40 years ago today, Carla Lane’s Butterflies debuted on BBC 2
The situation is the day-to-day life of the Parkinson family in a bittersweet style. There are both traditional comedy sources (Ria’s cooking, family squabbles) and more unusual sources such as Ria’s unconsummated relationship with the outwardly-successful Leonard (Bruce Montague). Ria (Wendy Craig) is still in love with her husband, Ben (Geoffrey Palmer), and has raised two potentially fine sons (Nicholas Lyndhurst and Andrew Hall), yet finds herself dissatisfied and in need of something more. Throughout the series Ria searches for that “something more” and finds some solace in her unconventional friendship with Leonard.
In the first episode, an expository discussion between Ria and Leonard alludes to the significance of the series’ title: “We are all kids chasing butterflies. You see it, you want it, you grab it, and there it is, all squashed in your hand.” She adds, “I am one of the few lucky ones, I have a pleasant house, a pleasant man and two pleasant sons. My butterfly didn’t get squashed.” Ria’s husband Ben collects and studies butterflies.