24 April, 2009

Preview: "Reggie Perrin"

"A modern-day update of the classic British sitcom The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, starring Martin Clunes in the title role, comes to BBC One. He leads an impressive cast including Fay Ripley (Cold Feet), Wendy Craig (Butterflies, The Royal), Geoffrey Whitehead (Worst Week Of My Life), Neil Stuke (Game On) and Lucy Liemann (Moving Wallpaper).

Reggie Perrin retells the story of a sales executive on the edge – an average man finding it increasingly difficult to put up with the monotony of life, the disappointing marriage, the office grind as head of disposable razors at male-grooming firm Groomtech and the daily commute. Rebellion begins to build in his mind, in the form of increasingly surreal flights of fancy, and slowly, Reggie begins to say what he really thinks – to his wife, his boss, his fellow commuters ... and, most dangerously of all, to his new colleague, Jasmine Strauss." BBC


David Nobbs, Daily Mail article:

"The BBC was excited by the prospect of a new series, and a pilot script was commissioned. By this time I had realised that, living in a small North Yorkshire village, I might not be as up to date with the minutiae of the urban and suburban nightmare as I was when I lived in Barnet, North London. Maybe it would be foolish to do the whole thing on my own this time.

When Simon Nye, of Men Behaving Badly fame, was suggested as a co-writer, I jumped at it, and luckily so did he.

One problem was the nature of Reggie's job. Exotic ices just weren't on. In food-mad, celebrity-chef-riddled modern Britain, no food is too exotic, so we settled on male grooming products. Perfect: a modern industry creating a whole range of products that were suddenly necessary even though men had got by perfectly happily without most of them for thousands of years.

It was time to produce a draft script. Since I had, in a sense, done the first draft 33 years ago, it made sense for Simon to have a crack at the new one. He created a range of characters who were quite different from the originals, yet performed similar functions. Is this a remake, or is it a new series loosely based on my original? I'd say it's a cross between the two.

Simon must take a great deal of the credit for this new creation. I could never have got as far away from the original as Simon has, and I think it was necessary to do so to breathe life into a 2009 version. "


David Nobbs, The Times:

“Reggie strikes a chord with people because a lot us feel the same way. I know from correspondence I received at the time of the original that viewers found the story cathartic. Seeing Reggie's plight, viewers felt relief - they thought: ‘thank God I'm not alone'. Comedy is a very broad church. The comedy that interests me the most could, with just the smallest changes, be rewritten as tragedy.”

Simon Nye, The Times:

“ I think it's always best to feel there is something at stake in a comedy. You need to sense that at any moment this could go horribly wrong. I'm all for Marx Brothers madcappery, but it's also great when viewers empathise with characters' predicaments and genuinely feel sorry for them.”


David Nobbs and Simon Nye interview, The Independent


Fridays, BBC1, 9:30pm for 6 weeks
(repeated Saturdays 9:40pm)



Tom Murphy said...

I got a preview disc of this last week. Unfortunately I found it very disappointing - it seems more of an antiquated throwback than a 'modern reinterpretation'.

I've written a bit about it here, with a link to my review.

The Brothers McLeod said...

I watched the new programme. I had to force myself to keep watching. I thought the script seemed laboured trying too hard to put in modern cultural references, rather than seeking for the universal themes inherent in the idea of Perrin. I also thought the actors were coming down in two camps... as though they were starring in two different sitcoms... some were playing it down, others playing it over the top. And the lighting? Please! The whole thing was bland, bland, bland.

Robin Kelly said...

I agree with you both but I'm giving it another chance as pilots are difficult to do well.

It got 5 million for its début but that's with almost all the Have I Got News For You viewers staying tuned in. I wonder how many will stay this week.