Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By, Mrs. Brown) and Wendy Craig (The Forsyte Saga) star in one of the most popular BBC sitcoms ever. She is an everyday housewife bored beyond endurance with her life. Married to a dour dentist who collects butterflies obsessively and the mother of two teenage sons whose chief occupation is bickering with their father, Ria Parkinson wants something more. Or is it someone more? When she meets a wealthy businessman who tries to woo her, she struggles to find out. As seen on public television.
Carla Lane's piquant brand of whimsical comedy peaked in 1978 with the BBC sitcom Butterflies
. Wendy Craig as Ria Parkinson, the wife and mother who can never quite put her finger on what's missing from her mundane life, is outstanding. She wrings every ounce of truth from a script that, if anything, has sharpened with the years. The concept of the housewife, "happily but not excitingly married," whose main function as perceived by those around her is to meet the needs of a reactionary husband (Geoffrey Palmer, baleful as ever) and a pair of layabout sons, might be dated. The fashions certainly are. But her plight is that of everybody who has ever thought, "there must be something better." And she is innocently subversive: a terrible cook, forever teetering on the brink of an affair with a lonely, smitten businessman she meets one lunchtime in a coffee shop, and always defying conventions. The passage of time exposes a real depth and darkness in Lane's writing: Ria's constant, dreamy philosophizing provokes raging outbursts of uncomprehending frustration from her husband that reveal him to be equally at odds with his own situation. This edgy streak saves Butterflies
from mawkishness and keeps it fresh even today. --Piers Ford