A sit-com that follows the misadventures of two sisters who unexpectedly inherit, from an uncle, a rundown garage in the small town of Frog's Hollow, Barley Charlie shows Joan and Shirley Muggleton's attempts to make the garage saleable, a plan foiled by the presence of lazy mechanic Charlie Appleby.
According to Don Storey, in his Classic Australian Television, 'GTV went to great lengths to ensure Barley Charlie would be successful. An enormous set covering 900 square feet was constructed - it comprised a full-scale garage, mechanic's store room, cafe and kitchen, and was complete with electricity, gas and water.' They also went to the expense of importing British script-writers Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe, hoping the two could replicate their success with British sit-coms such as The Rag Game.
Barley Charlie was successful both in terms of ratings and with the critics, but a second series was never made, largely due to the unavailability of key actors Eddie Hepple and Sheila Bradley. Of the program's significance to early Australian television, Storey notes that 'Most contemporary reports (and all of the GTV-9 publicity) credited Barley Charlie as being the first Australian produced situation comedy. This was not strictly correct, as Crawford Productions made a weekly 15-minute comedy series, Take That, for HSV-7 in 1957, although admittedly it was a live-to-air programme and was only screened in Melbourne.'
Australian Women's Weekly columnist Nan Musgrove, critices three Australian television series from the ear, including The Private World of Miss Prim. Under the sub-heading 'Is Burlesque Really Necessary?," she writes:
ATN7's new domestic comedy, My Name's McGooley - What's Yours?, a series specially devised for the talents of Gordon Chater, leaves me disappointed. The three main characters, Chater as McGooley, John Meillon as Wally Stiller, and Judi Farr as his wife, Rita, are splendid - real talking, walking Australians - but the stories don't match the characters. McGooley is Australian TV's third attempt at domestic comedy, or life with laughs, as it is known here. The first was Barley Charlie, a travesty of life in a service station on the Hume Highway. The second was The Private World of Miss Prim, the unfortunate comedy which starred Dawn Lake. Dawn as Miss Prim escaped into a world of fan- tasy (in dream sequences) from her real life in a Sydney office. Her office life was such a burlesque of the real thing that it made the whole show ridiculous. Both these lamentable shows were written by visiting Englishmen - Barley Charley by the creators of The Rag Trade, Ronald Chesney and Wolfe, and Miss Prim by Stan Mars. All of them apparently see life in Australia as a burlesque. I thought Ralph Petersen, a native of Adelaide, might do better for the local scene (14 September 1966, p.30.).