This tape opens with the end credits of Pie in the Sky, a trailer for Rhodes and a trailer for Big Cat Diary.
Then, episode one of The Legacy of Reginald Perrin. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more second time around. But The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was one of the first sitcoms I really loved, growing up. I even read David Nobbs’ novels – I never knew if the books preceded the series or vice-versa. I assumed they were novelisations, but Wikipedia resolves this mystery. The first novel was adapted into the first series, but the other two were written specifically to serve as the basis for the next two series, so they are inverse novelisations, really.
This series starts with Reggie’s funeral. He’s really dead this time. And all of his friends and family are summoned to a solicitor for the reading of the will.
It’s a remarkable feat that the series has managed to assemble so many returning cast members. Pauline Yates returns as Reggie’s wife Elizabeth.
Sally-Jane Spencer plays his daughter Linda. According to iMDb, she this is her only appearance after the original series, so I presume she retired from acting
Tim Preece plays her (now ex) husband Tom – he gets first dibs over Leslie Schofield, who played the role in the latter season of the original.
It wouldn’t be worth doing without John Barron’s matchless CJ, one of the greatest comedy characters of all time.
Although CJ didn’t get his own spin-off – that honour went to Geoffrey Palmer’s Jimmy, who appeared (in a slightly alternate universe) in Fairly Secret Army, a Channel 4 series with a theme by Michael Nyman.
Bruce Bould and Theresa Watson are David and Prue Harris-Jones, just as annoying as ever. I’ve always thought Bould’s performance is very good. That kind of diffident stammer must be very hard to maintain.
Reggie’s former secretary Joan returns, in the form of Sue Nicholls, also star of Corrie and Rentaghost.
Rounding out the returning cast is Doc Morrissey, John Horsley, still doing his rather dated lechery schtick, which is rather painfully lampshaded in the dialogue.
One new character is Patricia Hodge as the solicitor Miss Hackstraw.
Reggie’s will leaves his (apparently considerable) fortune equally to all the principals, on the condition that they all have to do something completely absurd, thus setting up the premise of the series.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 22nd September 1996 – 20:30
After this, recording continues with a trailer for QED, a profile of Trevor Bayliss, inventor of the clockwork radio.
There’s also a trailer for the Amanda Redmond drama Beck.
Then, the second episode of Rhodes, an epic biography of the founder of the De Beers diamond company, the man after whom Rhodesia was named, and who was almost certainly a massive racist. “The native must be treated as a child and denied the vote.”
I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention while this was on, but I think I only noticed one black actor with any lines. Obviously he was a servant.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 22nd September 1996 – 21:00
Next, part 2 of The Legacy of Reginald Perrin. I like that they’ve kept the original theme tune, and not tried to modernise it. I wonder if it’s the original track or a re-recording.
The group’s individual attempts at absurdity aren’t very inspiring. Jimmy tries cross dressing.
CJ and Doc Morrissey both decide to ask Miss Hackstraw to marry them.
Linda takes up skating.
But all these efforts are rather pathetic. So the group convene, and come up with the idea of staging a bloodless revolution of old people and the economic disadvantaged. Although I’m not sure electing Jimmy as the leader is the best of starts.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th September 1996 – 20:30
After this, recording switches to the end of Birds of a Feather and how lovely to suddenly see Pat Coombs.
There’s a trailer for Medicine Man. And an Independence Day-themed trailer for Clive Anderson All Talk.
Then, the next episode of TLORP (as the cool kids are calling it) and Joan brings her young man, Hank, to the group, played by Michael Fenton Stevens.
The group do a lot of canvassing for their idea, but get little support. CJ, Tom and Doc continue to woo Miss Hackstraw to little avail.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th October 1996 – 20:35
There’s the end of another Birds of a Feather followed by a trailer for Beck. There’s also a trailer for Telly Addicts.
Then, more from the world of Reggie Perrin. The group’s planning continues, and as it does, the members seem to be improving themselves. Tom and Linda are getting back together, and even CJ is being nice to people.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 13th October 1996 – 20:35
Recording switches, and there’s the end of another episode of Birds of a Feather.
There’s a trailer for Tomorrow’s World. Look at the size of this terminal, used to track space debris.
There’s also a trailer for Clive Anderson All Talk.
Then, back to the revolutionaries, and CJ is definitely acting strangely so Tom and David follow him in disguise.
CJ is meeting with reporters, trying to spill the beans about the plot to storm parliament. One of the reporters is David Ryall playing Welton Ormsby.
But he’s been laid off because he’s too old. “You don’t look a day over 55” says CJ. “I’m 47” says Ormsby. “I’ve abused my body.”
CJ and Doc are still leching after Miss Hackstraw.
Meanwhile, both Tom and Linda, and Joan and Hank, decide to get married.
And David Harris-Jones drunkenly explains the whole revolution plan to a wedding guest who happens to be Tom and Linda’s son, who works for the BBC. Has the whole plot been ruined.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th October 1996 – 20:35
Next, recording switches to the end of another Birds of a Feather. There’s a trailer for Beck, then a trailer for Inside Story: Maxwell, The Downfall.
Then, the next episode of Reggie Perrin. Has David’s indiscretion damaged the plan? No, because Tom and Linda’s son and daughter in law fully support the plan, and have even recruited younger people to the cause.
Jimmy and Miss Hackstraw end up together. I guess this all fits in with the general theme of the destigmatisation of old age, but I can’t help thinking there might be just a smidge of author’s flight of fancy going on there.
And as the day of the revolution approaches, will the plan stay secret?
Watching (most of) this series now, I’m struck by how, even though it’s presented as this lovely, positive and entirely good thing, we seem currently to be living through a real-life manifestation of the older generation ‘taking back control’ and it’s nowhere near as positive or life affirming. It was particularly noticeable in the last episode here, where Doc Morrissey proposes that the first two years of their proposed ‘young age pension’ which would last for the first ten years of adult life, young people would do ‘national service’ in a ‘theme park’. “No rules or restrictions, except no computers, no television, no video, no video games, no mobile phones and no fourteen lane electronic super-highway.” Later in the episode it’s commented that this idea is not liked by the young people, but the oldies think it’s marvellous. A familiar sentiment.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th October 1996 – 20:30
After this, a trailer for Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Australia and one for Clive Anderson All Talk.
Then, the tape ends after a short segment of Rhodes.
If you’re interested, the final episode of the series was looked at some time ago. That was also one of the earlier instances of the curse of the blog, as that entry came out just as writer David Nobbs died.