This is wrong in so many ways.
The original series was very much of the 1970s, expressing the decade's dawning dissatisfaction with corporate culture and - like The Good Life - offered a way of escaping from it.
Leonard Rossiter was an incomparable actor, always on the verge of going over the top but never quite doing so. The early episodes of Rising Damp defy comic gravity by getting funnier as the years go by.
And when I was in the sixth form we conversed largely in lines from Fawlty Towers and Reginald Perrin.
The new Reggie, Martin Clunes, is bullish about the new series:
But the melancholy of the original series, and of the David Nobbs novel on which it was based, was precisely what made it stand out. This is true of many great comedies. Someone once said, rightly, of One Foot in the Grave that, funny as it was, you had the feeling that something terrible might happen at any moment.
Still, as useless as he finds comparisons in general, Clunes is prepared to make one himself, between the old Perrin and his new one. “I think this one’s funnier,” he says. “There are more jokes. It’s quicker paced.
If you’re measuring comedy by quantity, instead of anything else… But yes, I don’t think it’s as ponderous and melancholic.”
David Nobbs is involved with the new series, which gives it some credibility, but the original producer is not impressed.
John Howard Davies - who also produced Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son and The Good Life - told the Daily Telegraph:
"My initial reaction to this remake was the same as quite a lot of people: why? I don't like remakes of programmes anyway. It's unimaginative. It's much better to start afresh with a blank sheet of paper. I think Martin Clunes is wonderful and he may save the day, but I'm pessimistic. I probably won't watch it. Comedy is like wine - it improves with age. And Leonard Rossiter [itals] was [itals] Reggie Perrin. He was the catalyst for the show's success."[The fawlty italics tag is in the original.]
And he agrees about the distinctive quality of the original:
"It wasn't funny ha ha, it was always a thoughtful piece, and I wouldn't like to see that taken away. What made it different from normal situation comedy was that it raised one or two interesting points for the middle-aged man."For a glimpse of John Howard Davies as a child star now read about Oliver Twist.