Encouraged by the recent success of ‘Rock & Chips‘, the prequel to the hugely successful ‘Only Fools and Horses‘, and Director-General Mark Thompson’s Strategy Review, the BBC has commissioned re-workings of several previously owned 1970’s sitcoms. Heralding a ‘Return to the golden age of comedy’, Jay Hunt, BBC One controller said that there were still some ‘rich comedic seams in these neglected classics’ and she was ‘determined to plumb the depths to mine them.’
Ms Hunt enthused about the first episode of ‘Whatever Happened to Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ in which Bob and Terry continue to reminisce like it’s 1969 and Bob’s wife, Thelma, tries to have her husband sectioned under the mental health act. Luckily it is all a misunderstanding and it turns out that it is Thelma, not Bob, who is suffering from dementia. ‘It’s quite hilarious’ said Ms Hunt ‘My only concern is how we are going to maintain that standard.’
Other ‘classics‘ are not forgotten. ‘It Ain't Half Hot Mum’ makes an unwelcome return with the talent free concert party being posted to Helmand Province with zany consequences; whilst Paul O'Grady stars in “Are You Being Self-Served?’ as the children of the former staff of a department store get to grips with the automated check out machines of the GraceCo supermarket.
TV critic of The Times, AA Gill expressed horror at what he called ‘the exhumation of the long departed’. Citing ‘Great Grandad’s Army’, as ‘perhaps the most horrific atrocity to come out of the last World War this side of Auschwitz’, he said that the remake appeared to be ‘no more than a digitally enhanced version of the original show with a re-recorded canned laughter track.’
The trend for cryogenic revival programming is not confined to the UK. In Australia, ‘Skippy the Butch Kangaroo’ has earned iconic status among the gay community. Meanwhile in the USA it is understood that the Fox network have already commissioned writers for ‘Bungalow’ which is to be the next Hugh Laurie vehicle following the retirement of the maverick medical genius, Dr Gregory House.