Looking at what I call comeback TV, where an old favourite is given a new lease of life with an all new up to date version.
Programs that have found themselves in this position include Come Dancing, re-launched as an all new version – Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and of course Butterflies of which many people believe My Family was an updated version. So it was no surprise in 2009 when the BBC decided to bring back Reginald Perrin. Despite it’s modern take it didn’t really connect with audiences leading to disappointing viewing figures and yet it was still commissioned for a second series.
Written by it’s original writer and re-named Reggie Perrin, this all new version starred Martin Clunes in a re-worked version that ran for two series of six episodes each.
The new series gave a fresh take on the original storyline, with many variations in character, setting and incident.
In this series Reginald Perrin is a middle-aged project executive for “Groomtech”, a manufacturer of grooming products, where he is in charge of disposable razors. Although secure in his marriage, with a paid-for house, no children, a car and a comfortable living, he is dissatisfied with the grind of modern living—such as his daily commute by train, often overcrowded and “27 minutes late” due to a plethora of reasons—and undergoing a mid-life crisis, keeping himself entertained by fantasies.
At work, he has to contend with a dim secretary, two fawning but ambitious junior executives, and an overbearing boss, Chris Jackson. Lacking attention from his wife, Nicola, he finds a fantasy distraction in his colleague, Jasmine Strauss. The latter comes close to being consummated during a business trip to Finland when Perrin and Strauss get drunk and Strauss (as with Perrin’s secretary Joan in the 1970s original) removes her blouse to reveal a black bra. However Perrin is apparently overcome with feelings for his wife, shortly after which Jackson appears unexpectedly, setting up a potentially embarrassing situation. The first series ends similarly to the original with Reggie considering whether he should fake his own death or actually commit suicide.
Whilst the original series progressed to a faked death and Leonard Rossiter as Reggie assuming a variety of disguises so that he could revisit his “widow,”, the idea of someone as distinctive as Martin Clunes attempting to assume disguises didn’t seem feasible and so for series two, matters progress no further and he just soldiers on as Reggie.
Written By: David Nobbs and Simon Nye
Produced By: Charlie Hanson and Ben Farrell
Original Transmission Dates: 24th April 2009 – 18th November 2010