Was forced to watch this as a kid. My mum loved it. Hated the bits with 'Leonard' Not sure why anyone would want to buy this? Good price though....
Though neither attracting the huge audiences of Bread nor defining an era like The Liver Birds, Butterflies is arguably the most successful of Carla Lane's sitcoms in terms of its style, oblique yet revolutionary theme and the affection in which it remains held. The story depicts Ria Parkinson, an attractive middle-class woman approaching middle-age and worrying that she has not made the most of her life. Her husband Ben, a dentist and collector of butterflies, is a stable yet essentially dull man; their children Russell and Adam are typical teenagers, with a typical teenage rivalry.
On the surface, Ria seemed an extension of other Wendy Craig TV characters (Not In Front Of The Children, ...And Mother Makes Three/Five but whereas they wondered aloud at their lot, Ria became obsessed with it in her every waking moment, her thoughts being dominated by the notion that time was slipping through her fingers. The series' bitter-sweet nature and sometimes downbeat atmosphere set it apart from other sitcoms, and dramatic undertones allowed it to deal with subjects (like teenage pregnancy and suicidal feelings) that many others series would have avoided. The central theme in Butterflies, indeed, was the temptation of adultery, with Ria being wooed by a wealthy businessman, Leonard, who represented the sort of adventure missing from her life. But Ria's upbringing and natural timidity made it impossible for her to consummate the relationship, so instead she daydreamed about it and, in this way, actually seemed to achieve some solace.
The series was very well cast. Wendy Craig brought believability and vulnerability to the part of Ria, Geoffrey Palmer proved that 'less is more' with his fine, understated performance as Ben, and Andrew Hall and Nicholas Lyndhurst were excellent as Russell and Adam. Bruce Montague as Leonard, Michael Ripper as his enigmatic chauffeur and Joyce Windsor as the Parkinsons' cleaning lady Ruby, all supported well. But they couldn't have made it work without Carla Lane's finely judged script, which had just enough traditional sitcom elements (the family's reaction to Ria's gruesome attempts at cookery, the adolescent bickering of the boys) to keep the mood light before exploring the darker areas of her frustration, her marital boredom and ageing.