As there are obviously no original ideas left at the BBC, the corporation has revived Reggie Perrin.
The original mid-1970s sitcom starred Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin, a middle class manager disillusioned with his unsatisfying marriage, life and job. His breakdown and surreal fantasies captured the spirit of a crisis-ridden decade.
With the grim reaper of job cuts hovering over the shoulder of every middle class person, the BBC thought it was time to bring back Reggie.
Martin Clunes takes on the lead role, with Reggie now the head of disposable razors at the Groomtech firm.
All of the themes and characters that made the original such a success – Reggie’s mid-life crisis, his constant late arrival at work and bizarre explanations for it, the pointless nature of work and the ridiculous, overbearing boss (here Chris Jackson rather than CJ) – are all present and correct.
Reggie Perrin is a satire on modern workplaces and industry techniques, and the isolated commuter-hell people are forced to undergo.
But, like Groomtech itself, the production is all rather soulless. Clunes’s miserable persona is no match for Rossiter’s brilliant portrayal of Reggie as a man on the edge of madness or genius. The same could be said of Neil Stuke’s Chris Jackson.
Nye and Nobbs have also kept some of the sexism of the original, although this has been toned down for a different era.
Reggie fantasises about new arrival Jessica gyrating for him in his office, while his wife, though extremely socially active, is a minor character in the first episode.
It all pales in comparison to the original, isn’t that funny, and makes you wonder why they bothered.
Written by Simon Nye and David Nobbs
9.30pm, Friday 24 April, BBC1
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