Last Night’s TV – Reggie Perrin
This was awful. I don’t often begin my reviews with such negativity, but truly, as much as I love Martin Clunes in every other role he’s ever had, as Reggie Perrin, I’m afraid I feel he was grave robbing…
Well, maybe not him per se but certainly the commissioning editors at the BBC as well as Simon Nye and David Nobbs – who wrote the adaptation – certainly are; and actually, David Nobbs wrote the original Reggie Perrin series’, so what he was thinking, I can’t imagine!
I guess if you’ve never seen the original, then a) you won’t really get what’s going on and b) you might feel differently, but to remake Reggie was, in my opinion anyway, a big mistake; there can be only one Reggie Perrin and that’s the late, great Leonard Rossiter…
In this remake, they’ve shifted Reggie from his ever more tedious work life at Sunshine Desserts to Groomtech, and in the original series, Reggie’s boss, CJ, the mustached tally-ho dingbat whose catchphrase of “I didn’t get where I am today by…” never got old. And speaking of old, to my horror, the new Reggie’s boss is a young man and nothing like CJ, other than his sometimes pomposity.
The original Reggie had similar ‘flights of fancy’ to the new Reggie but his relationships aren’t nearly as believable. Granted, last night was the show’s first outing so maybe I need to give it time for those to develop, but take for example how the original Reggie fantasised about, and sometimes tried to seduce, his secretary Joan Greengross who was played by Sue Nicholls – who’s currently Audrey in Corrie of course.
The writers of the new Reggie tried to replicate this theme of course in that Reggie’s boss Chris introduced him to the beautiful Jasmine Strauss, who’s the new head of balms and lubricants, and as Reggie’s wife Nicola – played by Fay Ripley – isn’t that interested in him, Reggie’s attraction to Jasmine begins, hence the Reggie-Joan thing.
And of course there were the new Reggie’s train journeys, reminiscent of the original ones, but again, it can’t be replicated… it just can’t.
It’s like having Helen Mirren stand in for the Queen on Christmas Day… it’s just not on and would go down like a lead balloon, as I fear will the new Reggie Perrin, unless the younger generation – who’ve never witnessed the genius of the original – fall in love with it.
And certainly the new Reggie has a very impressive cast, I’ll give it that. Apart from Martin Clunes there’s Fay Ripley, Wendy Craig, Geoffrey Whitehead, Neil Stuke and Lucy Liemann but they don’t cut it for me either, as great as they all are as actors.
Just in case you’ve never seen the original, here’s a fantastic clip that was one of my favourites when it first aired in the 70s. Reggie, his wife and daughter, along with her husband and their kids, go on a day trip, and Reggie loses it and goes on an hilarious rant…
And this one was another classic and favourite scene starring Leonard alongside Jeffrey Palmer who of course played Wendy Craig’s husband in Butterflies.
And here’s the original opening sequence…
As I said at the beginning, I can’t blame Martin Clunes; he’s a great actor, as are the rest of the cast, and I’m sure they’re all doing their very best to do the original justice, but The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was one of the most justifiably venerated comedy shows of all time and I honestly don’t think it can be remade with any credibility.
What did you think of it?