Shooting The Pilot by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran is a remarkably good book by the writers and creators of The New Statesman and Birds Of A Feather (among so many others). As well as getting to read the pilot scripts for some of their best series, they also introduce each one with some great memories about the process.
Their description of how they arrived at the final premise for Birds Of A Feather is fascinating, and includes this lovely nugget about the first draft:
Then what happens? Simple. Sharon and Tracey realise their lives can be so much better without their controlling worse halves telling them what to do and how to do it. Their men may be locked up, but the girls are free to let their hair down and flash their husbands’ cash. There’s a twist of course: the jealous spouses hire another villain to keep an eye on the girls and make sure they behave themselves.pg 115
This first draft had no Dorien, and the writers admit they were treating the two sisters as just one character. That’s when they hit upon the idea of giving them opposite reactions to the incarceration of their husbands, and decided to add a neighbour who juxtaposed them both.
A brilliant and inspired choice, and one that made sure the series would run and run.