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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Which comedy classics should be revived?
BBC comedy classic Only Fools And Horses is set to spearhead an assault on the Christmas 2001 TV ratings.
The BBC has confirmed reports that scriptwriter John Sullivan is working on three new episodes - the first of which should be broadcast on Christmas Day.
Only Fools and Horses ran for seven series between 1981 and 1991, with Christmas specials turning up for many years after that.
Although the cast members of some classic sitcoms are no longer alive, if you had the choice of bringing back one of these shows, which would you choose? Dad's Army, The Good Life and Fawlty Towers?
Would they still work today? Which other comedy classics would you like to see revived?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Why not revive Steptoe and Son, with Richard Briers as Albert and Steve Coogan as Harold? These two great actors could do justice to the performances of Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett.
No question about it - Yes Minister.
Most British sitcoms from the sixties, seventies and eighties were, let's be honest, mediocre at best. 'Allo, 'Allo, Hi de Hi, On The Buses et al - like most British sitcoms from that era - were bordering on pantomime (from the wrong side of the border). They were terrible then and they're terrible now. This is why, outside of Britain, few people class British sitcoms up there with the likes of Cheers, Seinfeld or the brilliant Simpsons. As for Only Fools and Horses well, Only The Easily Amused would class that as classic comedy, But then again people in Britain still insist that Tony (a pint, a pint, that's very nearly an armful) Hancock is the funniest guy to ever read his lines on live TV. Kick the Terry and Junes into the bargain bin of nostalgia TV where they belong and learn how to make proper sitcoms from the Yanks.
Thankfully we get plenty of BBC comedies in New Zealand, including many re-runs. I think half the secret of the quality was their limited life, the programs did not become old, tired or clichéd. Try for something new - it can work eg Vicar of Dibley.
Chris, Wales, U.K.
As a man turning 50 next Feb, I am fortunate to have grown up to the unique classic collection that the BBC put together over the last 5 decades. There has never been a network that has produced so many truly classic pieces of writing and acting. They should be a collective National Treasure. Thank you for letting me grow up in such good surroundings. My personal favourites are Dad's Army, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Porridge, Blackadder, The Goodies, Citizen Smith(Foxy!) and Farty Owls - filmed literally up the road from me in Torquay. Oh happy days!
Being an ex-pat living in Chicago and getting BBC America on cable, I am appalled that I cannot even see the original Fools and Horses over here, let alone the new stuff to come. All I get is British Men Behaving Badly and some idiot and very strange talk show host that thinks he is funny by being gay, crude and rude. Please repeat the old stuff and give us the new classics. By the way, repeating Dad's Army was great! Blackadder is wonderful, but over and over and over and over etc is boring. You have so much classic comedy in the archives, use it! Love The Fast Show and Harry Enfield. If it's new and good, put it out in the USA along with repeats of the classics! Suit You!
I would like to see Butterflies again and Steptoe and Son, and my favourite is anything with John Cleese in it. Some of the old programmes are available on Foxtel or Sky.
Dennis Colligan, USA
I've never understood why Fawlty Towers was so popular. Its "humour" depended on bad racial stereotypes and the most contrived situations possible. Python, by comparison, was deep and inspired satire, yet it's never mentioned by Britons at home in these discussions.
Station WXXI, Rochester, N.Y. has been re-running "Are You being Served" most nights
for the past 20 years... 'nuff said?
I don't watch British comedy any more as the quality is so poor and they're so bland. American comedies are far better than British ones nowadays [I never thought I'd ever say that!]. Trying to revive old shows with new casts will not work with the exception of Dr Who.
Steve Carley, England
What Tom? John Cleese saying "...we've finished the waldorfs".
Forget this pointless exercise in nostalgia - you should be ashamed of yourselves. Look for and nurture new talent.
Sorry ... but ditch the lot of them!!!
The Young Ones - 20 years on - a reunion film or something.
Learn from Hollywood's favourite mistake. Rerun them but don't try to remake them; even with cloning it can't be done.
I constantly watch the golden oldies on UK Gold including The Good Life, Dad's Army, Blackadder and Yes Prime Minister. They don't make them like that any more. Sadly the BBC seems to have become blinded by blandness in recent years. The fact that scriptwriter John Sullivan is working on three new episodes of Only Fools and Horses shows that the BBC has run out of new ideas and is turning to the past for inspiration.
How about The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin? That was fantastic! Even though Leonard Rossiter is dead, it was still very funny when they brought out the series after he died.
Having watched Only Fools and Horses for many years, I've never found a dull moment. I've even got my Dutch boyfriend Marco hooked, and he absolutely loves it! So another three episodes sounds like a great idea!
I would like to see In Loving Memory again with Dame Thora Hird - it's a wonderful comedy.
Ian, Hong Kong
Instead of trotting out the same old repeats of Dad's Army, 'Allo 'Allo et al, how about bringing back The Goodies or Citizen Smith?
What about including Ben Elton and Rowan Atkinson's 'The Thin Blue Line' in the options for resurrection - it is not only the comedy shows from the '70s and '80s which can be viewed as classics. As time passes and nostalgia sets in, more recent comedies will be viewed alongside Dad's Army etc as peers. It is noticeable that nostalgia has already hit the 1990s with 'I Love the 90s' currently being trailed.
Only Fools and Horses was the best sitcom ever made and charged with the question, if you could only ever see one TV programme again which would it be? then Fools would be my choice and no doubt that of many others. If I had to remake another sitcom it would be predictably Dad's Army - these programmes are classed as classics, simply because they are.
I think people are way off the mark in claiming there are no good sitcoms any more. In the last couple of years Black Books, The Office and Spaced have been consistently good. As for the 70s, not everything was good - for every Fawlty Towers there was an On The Buses or a Bless This House.
My sanity is intact only because British comedy offers such good quality.
Referring to the comment "bring back the old classics and get rid of the everyday tripe", having suffered plenty of old classics on BBC Prime, I would be grateful to have the opportunity to view some "everyday tripe" - we don't get an awful lot of it here.
Release another series of Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister with the present government as the cast. This should give us all a laugh.
Andrei Ellman, UK
I miss those fabulous series like Doctor Who, Blake's 7 and Catweazle. Where are they?
Although Steptoe and Son was fantastically funny, I feel that with both of the main stars having died starting afresh with new actors would be too strange. All the major characters from Are You being Served? are, however, still with us and with this programme also being popular in the USA it might make sense to make some new episodes.
Keith Legg, UK
The old ones were funny as they focused upon the failings of the human condition, not the fleeting trendy social issues of the day.
Anything as long as it's not dreadful rehashed American 'Comedies' - when someone walks on the set the whole place erupts with whoops and screams!
I can watch the Trotter's (Only Fools and Horses) any time. I have bought my husband most of the video's and we watch them over and over again. Some might think us sad people, but we would be very sad without out video's to watch, we never tire of them and always feel cheered up afterwards. Please keep them coming John the more the merrier.
'It ain't alf hot mum ' would be my choice, although now it would seem as totally 'Politically incorrect'! It's classic British TV, long may it reign.
I have one request only : Please show again the excellent 'Citizen Smith' with Robert Lindsay as Wolfie. As far as I remember it was never repeated
Matthew Salter, UK
I only get BBC America over here, but I would love to see old Terry and June, or To The Manor Born re-runs. I think the old shows are far better!
It must surely be time to bring back Hi de Hi. Su Pollard and chums really brightened up Sunday evenings...
By all means bring back the best classic sitcoms - but someone has to write the new sitcoms to become classics for years to come.
While Dad's Army was one of the best comedy series ever produced, it was running out of ideas towards the end of its run. Fawlty Towers or Black Adder would be my choices. Both series were ended to ensure they finished while at their peak and could have easily gone on for longer before starting to look stale.
I watched an episode of Dad's Army late last night. It made me laugh. A lot. Shame the same can't be said for most of the more recent sitcoms, which are bland, and to be honest, UNFUNNY. Bring 'em all back!! Make Tuesday night sitcom night!!
Alan Binnie, Scotland
How can you revive Dad's Army when it's never off the TV anyway? Time to put the old nag out to grass.
Fawlty Towers, but set in a brothel, and with Manuel as an incompetent drug dealer.
I voted for 'Allo 'Allo. Here's why. I do not want the memories of my favourite sitcoms, like Blackadder and Fawlty Towers, tarnished by remakes that will inevitably suffer by comparison with the originals. If you're going to remake a sitcom, pick one that was popular, but mediocre in terms of quality. Something that you can improve upon. Besides, 'Allo 'Allo was always mindless, sexy fun and that always goes down well.
Only Fools and Horses ended so well. "One day we'll be millionaires," and so they were. Bringing them back seems totally pointless, especially now Buster Merryfield is no longer with us.
We've already seen the best finale to any comedy series - namely Blackadder at the end of World War 1 - diluted by that daft time travel special that was on Sky. We should therefore be mindful about doing that to other classic series.
Let the past be the past and concentrate on new ideas, not rehashing old ones...
Gary Holcombe, UK
Concentrate on the new stuff and leave the past to UK Gold.
The Good Life, because the story line is more relevant today than it was in the 70's.
What about Yes Minister?
Hip, hip, hurray - as Brits we seem prone to live in the past. New episodes of these fantastic sitcoms are our only chance to give the Americans a run for their money and may help inspire scriptwriters of the future.
The really old comedies should be left as classics, not having some new scriptwriter try to remake them now, in a style different to how they were intended to be. On the other hand, Blackadder for instance - which is only a couple of years out of production - would work very well with a new series. The BBC needs new ideas; it can't survive on past success. Repeats of "The Good Life" are not what modern viewers want to see and I believe the viewing figures reflect this. They should hire some young new scriptwriters to come up with some fresh ideas, before the BBC turns into UK Gold 3....
I don't care as long as we don't have to suffer 'Allo 'Allo or Hi-de-Hi again.
Most of the comedies you've listed are best left alone. Often I feel that it is the fact that only a small number of episodes were made that makes a comedy such a wonderful classic. For example there are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers into which John Cleese and Connie Booth crammed high quality material. On the other hand, a comedy that started off superbly such as 'Bread', can be spoiled by making more and more episodes of a lower and lower standard. Of all the examples you give I think Blackadder would be most suitable as each series has a completely new Blackadder character in a new situation.
For goodness sake, they will all be repeated soon anyway. All the Beeb does is invest in poor modern sitcoms (with a few exceptions like The Royle Family and The Office) and then repeat the old stuff so that something that was once a classic loses its appeal. Leave it alone. Invest in good comedy and sport!
For the love of Pete, give the world more Edmund Blackadder.
I voted for Dad's Army but would like to retract the vote now that it is clear that 'revived' means re-written and re-recorded with new actors. I agree with Tom - "concentrate on the new stuff" - but disagree that the past should be left to UK Gold. There is still a place for re-runs of classics on the Beeb.
08 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Only Fools And Horses 'to return'
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