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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.

Your reaction

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.
Liz, England

How about the Beeb creating a radio version of UK Gold?

Len, UK
For those of us in the autumn of our years who are either fed up with or incapable of watching the rubbish now on television, how about the Beeb creating a radio version of UK Gold and giving us some repeats of the good old classic radio programmes such as Round The Horn, Beyond Our Ken, The Navy Lark, The Goon Show and the Glums to name but a few. We keep being advised that the average age of the country is increasing and soon there will be more pensioners than workers. Why is it then that the majority of programmes on TV and radio cater for the young?
Len, UK

No question about it - Yes Minister.
Anand Narayanan, India

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.
Ian Crawford, Australia

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.
Ann Chapman, New Zealand

My choice would be The Young Ones

Chris, Wales
If any classic comedy should be revived my choice would be The Young Ones. It's always interesting to know how students change after leaving college. Imagine Rick as a New Labour MP!
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!
Robin Thompson, USA

The Beeb should leave this tired old horse alone

Orac, UK
The Beeb should leave this tired old horse alone and develop new comedy talent. Only Fools was classic stuff in the early 80's, but it became sentimental with sparse jokes towards the end. News of the return of this comedy show is almost bad as the extra episode of dodgy 'cockney' soap Eastenders. New ideas please, along the lines of Alan Partridge and The Day Today!
Orac, UK

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!
Barry Taylor, USA

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.
Rachel, Australia

The Good Life is my favourite show of all time

Dennis Colligan, USA
The Good Life is my favourite show of all time. I occasionally see the actors on other/later shows, and would love to see them back again; perhaps answering how the Good's are facing the retirement age?
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.
Steve, Los Angeles (ex High Wycombe)

Station WXXI, Rochester, N.Y. has been re-running "Are You being Served" most nights for the past 20 years... 'nuff said?
M.J.Bye, Canada

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, Australia

John Sullivan never fails to provide the unexpected in his scripts

Steve Carley, England
There is always the danger that the longer you drag out a sitcom, the worse it may become. But with the best like Only Fools and Horses, that theory has proved fruitless. The 1996 trilogy contained arguably some of the best moments in its history and I think David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst love the show so much they would never let it slip. Plus, John Sullivan never fails to provide the unexpected in his scripts and Del Boy will forever remain the best-loved character in sitcom. But the real key to reviving a sitcom is whether it is relevant to today. For example, Fawlty Towers could exist today, but its 12 episodes were so superb any efforts at a re-make would destroy it.
Steve Carley, England

What Tom? John Cleese saying "...we've finished the waldorfs".
Ian Grech, Malta

Forget this pointless exercise in nostalgia - you should be ashamed of yourselves. Look for and nurture new talent.
Nick, England

The Likely Lads is far worthier of a revival than any of those on the list

Ash, UK
Surely I cannot be the only person that would love to see Bob Ferris and Terry Collier heading towards pension day and bus passes? The Likely Lads is far worthier of a revival than any of those on the list. We've seen them in the Sixties, again in the Seventies; it's time to see them again.
Ash, UK

Sorry ... but ditch the lot of them!!!
Mike, UK

The Young Ones - 20 years on - a reunion film or something.
CRB, London, UK

Learn from Hollywood's favourite mistake. Rerun them but don't try to remake them; even with cloning it can't be done.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

I want new talent to make me laugh

Andy, UK
Although for me Hancock will always remain the master, the way should be kept clear for new talent. I don't agree with 'new issues' of old shows with a fresh cast. It simply does not work for me. Comedy to an extent reflects a period. I don't want to see Fools and Horses back. I want new talent to make me laugh.
Andy, UK

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.
David Hinsley, England

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.
Christopher Pope, Great Britain

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!
Julie Burgess, Netherlands

I would like to see In Loving Memory again with Dame Thora Hird - it's a wonderful comedy.
Martin Brannan, UK

Don't kick the old classics to death

Ian, Hong Kong
There is a saying in showbiz: "Always leave the audience wanting more". That way, you create a work of art that MEANS something special to a lot of people. Don't kick the old classics to death for the sake of banalities.
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?
Stuart, UK

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.
Jes Mansell, UK

"Butterflies" would work today

David, England
In many ways things are not done in the same way now as they were before and therefore it would be difficult to set a comedy based upon what would normally have been familiar circumstances. Dad's Army, for example, could not be revisited because only a small proportion of the viewers could identify with the characters and the surroundings. Butterflies would work today: new technologies but the same problems and family crises!
David, England

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.
John, England

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.
Raj, UK

My sanity is intact only because British comedy offers such good quality.
Bob D., USA

I always loved Ever Decreasing Circles

Sara, England
I always loved Ever Decreasing Circles and it's never repeated anywhere. I agree these should be left in the past but repeated on UK Gold as often as possible. I believe there's definitely a market for a TV channel called 'Repeat TV' or something, which showed nothing but requested old programmes including kids' programmes. I'd love to see Champion The Wonder Horse again!
Sara, England

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.
Heather Hopkins, Switzerland

Release another series of Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister with the present government as the cast. This should give us all a laugh.
Richard, UK

Bring back The Goodies

Andrei Ellman, UK
Bring back The Goodies. It was the closest a non-cartoon has been to becoming a cartoon. Bring it back before we forget what comedy is supposed to be like.
Andrei Ellman, UK

I miss those fabulous series like Doctor Who, Blake's 7 and Catweazle. Where are they?
Eric Rutjens, The Netherlands

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.
Angus Gulliver, UK

Blackadder as a 1980s City dealer at the height of the yuppie era?

Keith Legg, UK
Blackadder as a 1980s City dealer at the height of the yuppie era - can you imagine the possibilities? On the other hand, some of the old stuff was so good - especially the last three "Only Fools and Horses" - can they be bettered?
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.
Patrick Martin, N. Ireland

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!
Dave H, London, UK

No more Only Fools and Horses please! It's on all the time and I'm fed up with it

Liz, UK
No more Only Fools and Horses please! It's on all the time and I'm fed up with it. The series finished on a high - leave it there. I love Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and many other classics but leave them as classics - don't try to 're-make' them with new scripts and cast. It won't work. They will never match up to the original. Repeats (of shows which haven't been shown for ages) would be welcome - on the BBC - not all of us have Sky/Digital - and at a reasonable time!
Liz, UK

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.
Helena, England

'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.
Dave, UK

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

We have plenty of wonderful comedy moments to view again and again

Matthew Salter, UK
Whilst there are a few exceptions at present, the 70's and 80's were an outstanding era for British comedy (most of which was made by the BBC). Much as I love all the classics, they were generally products of their time and should be appreciated from that standpoint. To try to recreate the situational humour of say, Dad's Army, The Good Life or Are You Being Served, would run the risk of appearing out of date, and trying to update them would destroy some of their charm. We have plenty of wonderful comedy moments to view again and again, thanks to video and DVD. Let's leave the old stuff on the shelf (but take them down and watch them frequently!) and try to write stuff which will be as well-loved and remembered in 30 years time as the classics are now.
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!
Clare Cassar, USA

It must surely be time to bring back Hi de Hi. Su Pollard and chums really brightened up Sunday evenings...
Jonathan Drysdale, UK

By all means bring back the best classic sitcoms - but someone has to write the new sitcoms to become classics for years to come.
Martin Watts, UK

There's still nothing else that lives up to it!

Aaron, England
It's true to say that the industry has a habit of doing things to death and not knowing when to stop, but I must confess that I really want to see more episodes of Only Fools and Horses - there's still nothing else that lives up to it!
Aaron, England

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.
Bill, UK

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!!
Ali Wells, Essex, UK

You couldn't revamp the old shows because you wouldn't get the same quality of cast

Alan Binnie, Scotland
Where comedies like "Dad's Army" and "The Good Life" succeeded was in having superb ensemble casts. Even when the scripts were not quite so good, the cast could rise above them because of their vast experience. Today the attitude is "Hey, Davina McCall, let's build a sitcom around her" or some talentless prat who's been runner-up in the Perrier Awards, "Let's give him a sitcom". What you get is half-baked rubbish which wouldn't even work on children's TV. Good sitcoms need good scripts but most importantly they need good actors. You couldn't revamp the old shows because you wouldn't get the same quality of cast.
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.
Will, London

Fawlty Towers, but set in a brothel, and with Manuel as an incompetent drug dealer.
Jon, Basingstoke, UK

Classic sitcoms should be left in peace

Kev, England
Classic sitcoms should be left in peace. They could never repeat the genius that was Fawlty Towers - to try to do so would be folly. They tried to bring back Reggie Perrin - and the resultant show was nothing but an insult to the original.
Kev, England

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.
Pete, England

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...
Craig, London, UK

Bring back more of these old classics

Gary Holcombe, UK
Bring back more of these old classics and get rid of the everyday tripe that the TV channels provide us with. How about removing all the whinging and outrageous soaps such as Eastenders, Coronation Street etc. and replacing them with these classic, light hearted programmes. I'm sure we would see more people smiling around the country!
Gary Holcombe, UK

Concentrate on the new stuff and leave the past to UK Gold.
Tom, London

The Good Life, because the story line is more relevant today than it was in the 70's.
Mac, Dundee, UK

What about Yes Minister?
Patrick, Ireland

No shows are improved by exhuming them

James, UK
No! None of them. Classics are classics because of the time and space they occupy. It is always best to let them rest, and if we feel the need to revisit them we can do it via video or repeats. No shows are improved by exhuming them. Let them die in the blaze of glory they deserve. Only Fools and Horses has already been raised from the dead too many times and is beginning to leave an unpleasant smell whenever it returns. Leave it alone, or the entertainment it once gave will be lost.
James, UK

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.
Jemima, UK

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....
Andy L, UK

I don't care as long as we don't have to suffer 'Allo 'Allo or Hi-de-Hi again.
Helen, England

I'd like to see "It ain't half hot, Mum" back again

Harriet, England
If I could choose, I'd like to see "It ain't half hot, Mum" back again - even dafter and more non-PC than 'Allo 'Allo! Windsor Davies and Don Estelle were terrific, to name but two of a comic star cast.
Harriet, England

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.
Dan, England

It's about time we had some good new comedy

I love only Fools and Horses, but please, I'm begging John Sullivan, leave it alone. The last three were a perfect ending for the Trotters - don't spoil it. It's about time we had some good new comedy.

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!
Alice, England

For the love of Pete, give the world more Edmund Blackadder.
Ricardo Signes, U.S.A.

Fawlty Towers has to be the greatest of all

Mick, UK
Fawlty Towers has to be the greatest of all. The three main characters are still with us and could easily make a new series. I always thought it was a shame that there were only ever 12 episodes made. But seeing the repeats over the years hasn't undermined my enjoyment of the show. It was just so hilarious, by far the greatest, with John Cleese's slapstick sarcasm, which had us all in stitches. For most of the other classic Brit-coms, sadly most, or a significant member, of the cast are no longer with us, so these shows would never be as good.
Mick, UK

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.
p, UK

See also:

08 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Only Fools And Horses 'to return'

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