Reginald Iolanthe Perrin is a 46-year old sales executive for Sunshine Desserts,run by the hearty but hectoring boss C.J. Reggie is clearly suffering a mid-life crisis. Though not unhappily... See full summary »

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Reginald Iolanthe Perrin is a 46-year old sales executive for Sunshine Desserts,run by the hearty but hectoring boss C.J. Reggie is clearly suffering a mid-life crisis. Though not unhappily married to Elizabeth,he calls her mother a hippopotamus and is finding no enthusiasm for marketing C.J.'s latest line - exotic ices. He wants something better for his life,but is not sure what. Written by don @ minifie-1

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footsie under the table | See All (1) »

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8 September 1976 (UK)  »

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Reggie's Rebellion Begins
1 May 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

With the 'Reggie Perrin' series starring Martin Clunes now underway on B.B.C.-1, I thought it might be a good time to review the first episode of the classic series starring the late, great Leonard Rossiter. Clunes has been dismissive of the old show in interviews ( why do people these days think the most effective way to promote a remake is to rubbish the original? ) and there have been several comments on internet television forums of the 'it was good in its day, but its very dated now' variety.

I have not seen the original show in many years, not since it was last repeated on B.B.C.-2 ( late '90's, I think ). So what did I make of the first episode after all this time? Every second of it was first-rate.

The title sequence, as everyone remembers, has Reggie running along a beach, stripping off his clothes, and taking a dip, accompanied by Ronnie Hazlehurst's wonderful theme. This scene is not in the opening episode, of course, it happens much later in the run.

What I found interesting was the way the episode was structured. It starts with a typical day in Reggie's life; everything is done to order, he and Elisabeth ( Pauline Yates ) swap the same farewells each morning ( "Have a good day at the office.". "I won't!" ). He walks along streets named after poets, catches the train where he finds himself sharing a compartment with hay fever sufferer Peter Cartwright ( Terence Conoley ) who never thinks to bring along tissues, and then finally, its off to 'Sunshine Desserts' whose sign loses at least one letter a day. Reggie throws his umbrella at the hat-stand but never hits it, and notices Joan's legs as she dictates a letter. Then there is the usual encounter with the appalling Tony Webster ( Trevor Adams ), whose favourite word is 'Great!' and nervous David Harris-Jones ( Bruce Bould ), whose favourite word is 'Super!', interplay with C.J. ( John Barron ), a man whose cruelty to his employees is borderline sadistic ( farting chairs in his office no less! ). The second day sees Reggie developing signs of anxiety, he even manages to throw up in the middle of a tasting of a new range of exotic ice creams. On the third day the madness begins proper, and here the show takes full comic flight. I don't accept the 'dated' argument because the themes dealt with here are timeless. People like 'Reggie' ( trapped in hum-drum jobs ) still exist unfortunately.

In the first episode of the new show, they decided not to show us what Reggie was rebelling against, and to use a popular phrase 'cut to the chase' with him insulting people at every opportunity. In today's multi-channel world, a series needs to get to the point quickly or else the impatient audience changes channels. A great pity.

Details like the streets named 'Coleridge Close' and 'Tennyson Avenue' are not funny in themselves, but they gave depth to what otherwise could have been a run-of-the-mill sitcom.

Rossiter as 'Reggie' is simply magnificent. Had 'Rising Damp' not happened, this would have been the show he would today best be remembered for. Even when nothing very funny is happening, he keeps you amused. Just look at the serene expression on his face when Esther Pigeon ( Jacki Piper ) witters on about sales figures! This was the only episode directed by its producer John Howard Davies. From then on, Gareth Gwelan assumed directorial responsibilities. Davies certainly knew how to cast. Every actor in this is perfectly chosen, even the minor characters such as Peter Cartwright.

Funniest moment - Reggie is in the Italian restaurant having a three-course meal - ravioli, ravioli, and ravioli. Guess what Elisabeth has waiting for him when he gets home? The series was off to a flying start.


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