I’M always slightly wary when writers take a much-loved and popular film or TV series and attempt to update it for a contemporary audience.

It doesn’t always work and ends up looking pale in comparison to the original. One could say it flatters to deceive.

That’s the case with Jeremy Sams’ latest production, The Good Life, which brings the iconic 1970s BBC sitcom to the stage for the first time.

The original TV series written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde of Please Sir! fame, was an immediate hit when it premiered in April 1975.

It started out with viewing figures of five million and at its peak attracted an audience averaging 16 million.

It made television stars out of Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal, who played Tom and Barbara Good, and their snobbish Surbiton neighbours Jerry and Margo, played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith.

The sitcom – which ran for four series until June 1978 – went from hit to sensation as viewers fell in love with Tom and Barbara’s decision to drop out of the suburban rat race and become self-sufficient, while laughing at Margo’s snobbishness and Jerry’s henpecked husband.

Sams says: “It’s a homage to the characters as well as an old-fashioned comedy” that captures the spirit of the TV show whilst inventively rejigging the story.

Sadly, while this stage version is mildly entertaining, it lacks the warmth and the genuine belly laughs that the original generated.

Rufus Hound (Tom) and Sally Tatum (Barbara) do their best to make their characters believable, while Preeya Kalidas (Margo) and Dominic Rowan (Jerry) ham it up as their next-door neighbours.

The cast is bolstered by Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchyard in a series of cameo performances as Sir/Harry the Pigman/policeman and Dr Joe and Felicity/milkwoman and Mary respectively.

One can’t fault their acting, as they are all accomplished professionals, but sadly they are let down by the plot, which is adapted and directed by Sams.

It consists of a sequence of set-pieces, such as a scene where Barbara attempts to milk an animatronic goat, to a dinner-party fuelled by the Harry the Pigman’s hash cakes and Tom’s peapod wine, their attempts to revive a newly-born but dying piglet.

The production does however have a lovely set and costumes designed by Michael Taylor, backed up by lighting and sound from Mark Henderson and Fergus O’Hare.

In the programme, much is made of the play’s environmental issues and self-sufficiency and their relevance to today’s modern world.

Interestingly, most of the cast deliberately seem not to have watched the TV series in an attempt to avoid producing an impression of the original characters. In the event, they have tried to approach it as a new play and new characters.

Sadly, there are likely to be too many audience members out there who watched the TV series and will be drawn to buy tickets for the stage production in the hope of reconnecting with the characters they once loved.

It’s not going to happen, as the comedy fails to generate the laughter that once carried the TV series to its iconic status.

To be fair, though, I think’s there’s enough scope for an accomplished writer produce a new TV series poking fun at modern-day issues, such as city v country living, being eco-friendly and sustainability, as well as the moves towards ecological and climate change emergency declarations.

The Good Life is on at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday, October 16, and is then touring to December 4.