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In many ways, The Legacy Of Reginald Perrin is a testament to the faith
the BBC had in series creator David Nobbs, given that the star of the
original series - and the main reason for its success - had passed on.
'Legacy' instead focuses instead upon the supporting characters, giving
Geoffrey Palmer, by this time considered a safe pair of hands in a
starring role, centre seat. New supporting characters are also added to
fill out the cast, most notably Patricia Hodge, as the legal executor
of Reggie Perrin's fortune, for which the others must do something
silly in order to collect their share.
The pen of David Nobbs ensures that the series at all times maintains the feel of the original, and the returning cast generally seem to slip effortlessly back into their roles. Time may have softened John Barron a little, but the defiant spark accompanying every mixed metaphor is still there. However, although everyone concerned gives their all, it just isn't the same without the title character. Perrin and Rossiter were the dynamoes that drove the entire series. While the supporting characters were content to put up with their mundane middle-class lives, every fibre of Reggie's being yearned for more, and he went out and got it, achieving new levels of wonderful lunacy each time. Nobbs is very much aware of this, since the premise of 'Legacy' has to do with everyone wondering just how to achieve similar heights of silliness in order to claim their inheritance.
It's a brave try, and certainly a very watchable one. It's almost like watching scenes from original episodes where Reggie isn't in the room. Nonetheless, even though the final episode suggests quite strongly that this wasn't meant to be a one-off series, it's not difficult to see why it was. And to paraphrase CJ, I didn't get where I am today by not seeing why it was.
This programme was a bold move, it did only survive one series, but without Leanard Rossiter, it couldn't be what it used to. The main story was after Reginald Perrin passed away, he left a will to his family and former colleagues. A million pounds each. But, to get this money they had to do something totally absurd. After efforts were made they decided to work as a team and their idea was to have a bloodless revolution for the older generation, however, it actually was a good idea, so they didn't get a penny. On the character side of things, new characters were bought in and supporting characters were in the lead. With his success in "As Time Goes By", Geoffrey Palmer took the spotlight, relinquishing his role as Jimmy Anderson, the Leader of the Revolution along with all the other classic characters from the original series, CJ, Doc Morrisey, David "Great" Jones and Joan Greengross. If I hadn't of seen this programme at the tender age of 11, I would have never seen the original classic programme, so thank you David Nobbs.
The '90's saw the B.B.C. revive a number of famous comedy shows, including two made by I.T.V. - 'Agony Again' and 'Doctor At The Top' - along with 'The Liver Birds' and, of course, this. Whereas these featured the original casts, 'Legacy' was at a disadvantage because Leonard Rossiter passed away in 1984. David Nobbs tried to work around this by making Reggie's death the catalyst for the show's events. Reggie's family and friends must do something really absurd in order to qualify for a share in his will. After a number of failed individual attempts, they combine to try to take over the country, at the head of an army of pensioners. The show was not the disaster critics tried to make out; 'Jimmy', 'C.J.', 'Elisabeth', 'David Harris-Jones', 'Tom' and 'Linda' were strong enough to carry the show. The problem was that Reggie wasn't around to belittle them anymore. It was like watching 'Fawlty Towers' without Basil. Best of the new characters was Geraldine Hackstraw, played by the lovely Patricia Hodge.
Missed this when first shown in 1996 but recently managed to watch the
entire series in one day! That wasn't my intention but I just got
hooked from the first episode, perhaps it's like CJ states "I love
nostalgia, especially when it's about the past!" Great fun I thought
and every bit as well written as the original shows from 20 years
And a great cast to boot! Actually, I do seem to remember watching the first episode of this when first broadcast - then it did nothing for me, strange how the passing of time and being bothered to watch the series in full can change one's initial thought.
They don't do 'em like this these days and sure, it's not 'cutting edge comedy' (whatever that is?)but I didn't care.
Even without Reggie it was still great, super! to see so many original cast members reunited for this one-off (that's all it was intended to be) series.
Sure, it won't (indeed it didn't!) change the world, but a ruddy good Brit-com all the same.
If you can find a repeat I urge you to give it a try.
I didn't get where I am today by recommending rubbish sitcoms on IMDb you know! :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1996 saw the BBC's failed attempts to revive two of their best loved
sitcoms from the '70's - 'The Liver Birds' and 'The Fall & Rise Of
Reginald Perrin'. Unlike 'The Liver Birds', 'The Legacy Of Reginald
Perrin' had to try and soldier on without its leading man ( Leonard
Rossiter had died of a heart attack in 1984 ). A colossal task, but one
that David Nobbs worked around by having Reggie's passing being the
plot outline for the show.
Reginald Iolanthe Perrin has died after being crushed to death by a collapsing billboard, a billboard which ironically was advertising a life insurance company with which Reggie had a policy with. He bequeaths his entire estate to his family and former colleagues from Sunshine Desserts. However, the fly in the ointment is that in order to qualify to inherit a share of Reggie's will, the entire party must do something utterly ludicrous, a task which is to be judged by Reggie's solicitor Geraldine Hackstraw.
All of the cast from the original series returned, save for Tony Webster, who was said to have moved to New Zealand ( the late Trevor Adams had given up on acting in 1982 to start a career in law ). Tim Preece reprised his role as Tom ( he was replaced in the third series of the original show by Leslie Schofield ). Some new characters were introduced. There was, of course, Hackstraw ( played by Patricia Hodge, who had earlier appeared in another David Nobbs scripted show, 'Rich Tea & Sympathy' ), Joan Greengross' new yuppie boyfriend Hank ( Michael Fenton Stevens ) who instead of saying ''Great!'' or ''Super!'' said ''Wicked!'' and incompetent journalist Welton Ormsby ( the late David Ryall, who played Phoebe's dad Eric in the first series of 'Goodnight Sweetheart' ). They all link forces, along with a large army of pensioners, to head a bloodless campaign to seize control of the government.
As a single serial, it was strong enough to work, showing us how everyone had gotten along over the passing years and how they were all coping with the loss of Reggie. There were some telling moments, such as the reconciliation of Tom and Linda and the budding romance between Jimmy and Geraldine and David Nobbs still came up with some witty lines but I think for some, the absence of Rossiter was just too much and, subsequently, 'The Legacy Of Reginald Perrin' flopped.
The final episode ended on a cliffhanger, suggesting that Nobbs hoped there would be demand for a second series but it was not to be. Only seven episodes were made.
'The Legacy Of Reginald Perrin' may not have been excellent, but it was worth watching and is vastly superior to the 2009 remake starring Martin Clunes. Despite Clunes' very best efforts, he simply was not Reggie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David Nobbs said in a radio interview (BBC Radio 2 ??/09/96) he had half heartedly dabbled sporadically at many ideas during the late 70s and early 1980s to wrap up the Reginald Perrin series as he was never fully satisfied with the conclusion of The Better World of Reginald Perrin (series 3). Nobbs felt as though he had fulfilled his original intention and caught the zeitgeist of the 1970s workplace with the original Perrin trilogy and couldn't take that vein too much further as the original Reggie Perrin was mainly about increasing dissatisfaction in the workplace, and the breakdown in worker/management relations which plagued British industry in the 1970s and the lack of humanity in dealing with workers. He now had a chance to move the cast on to the materialistic nineties zeitgeist with the new series as well as a golden chance to tie up the character's loose ends. He fought off the temptation (and apparently a fair amount of pressure from within the BBC) to recast another actor as Reggie, especially as Ronnie Barker was, at the time the series was floated in 1994, only recently semi-retired and he was still highly keen to get a chance to play Reggie Perrin - a role originally written for him - though he was too busy in 1977 to play the role in the series - and Leonard Rossiter got the role instead, made it his own and the rest is history. While the series had its critics, it was a bold move to reintroduce basically a supporting cast without the star. The series rolls along nicely in the gang's quest for absurdity and a slab of Reggie's legacy but never breaks any boundaries of comedy as the original series did. There were too many rehashed Reggie gags from the original series which the others just couldn't carry off. The true joy of the series was, that after a long break, we had the chance to catch up with old friends once again to find them all in fine fettle apart from Tony Webster (Trevor Adams) and of course Reggie (Leonard Rossiter) himself.
When David Nobbs starting working for the BBC again in the mid-90s he
made the bold decision to bring back Reginald Perrin. The critics were
scathing about the show and claimed that following the death of Leonard
Rossiter it should never have happened. With the benefit of hindsight
however, the show was not the disaster it was first claimed to be.
David Nobbs has always been a hugely talented writer and he proves that again here. The ideas in The Legacy of Reginald Perrin are more innovative and funny than most other comedy shows and it is only the overly repetitive catchphrases and a few slow sections which let the scripts down.
Even despite Leonard Rossiter's absence, there are still positives to the cast as well. Geoffrey Palmer is superb as Jimmy Anderson and John Horsley, Bruce Bould and Tim Preece all perform well as well. Sadly though John Barron's age appears to be catching up with him and one or two other cast members had not acted for several years and it shows.
All in all, I would recommend this to fans of the original series. It is certainly imperfect and could have benefited from strong editing but it is nevertheless fascinating viewing.
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