The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

From Academic Kids

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was a British sitcom starring Leonard Rossiter in the title role. The screenplay was adapted by David Nobbs from his own Reginald Perrin novels, though certain subplots in the novels were considered too dark for television and toned down or omitted from the TV series.

The original three series, all of the same name, were broadcast between 1976 and 1979; a fourth, The Legacy of Reginald Perrin, followed in 1996.

The basis of the plot is the mid-life crisis experienced by Perrin as he becomes desperate to escape his dreary life as a sales executive at Sunshine Desserts. At the end of the first series he fakes his own suicide by leaving his clothes on a beach in Dorset and running into the sea. (While this was coincidentally similar to a stunt pulled at around the same time by maverick MP John Stonehouse, neither was Nobbs inspired by Stonehouse nor Stonehouse by Reggie: the novel was written before Stonehouse's faked suicide in June 1974 but not published until 1975. The phrase "to do a Reggie Perrin" did enter the vernacular, however, no doubt assisted by the media circus that surrounded the Stonehouse affair.) The first series was based on Nobbs' novel The Death of Reginald Perrin, which was re-titled The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin to tie in with the TV series and retains its new title to this day.

In the second series he remarries his wife, and they build a retail business ("Grot") which sells useless items, hoping that it will be an interesting failure. Instead, the useless items are snapped up as novelties: Grot becomes a runaway success, and Reggie ends up employing all the staff from Sunshine Desserts, including his former boss, CJ. This causes the Perrins to fall into the same boredom that Reggie suffered before, so at the end of the second series they fake a joint suicide. This series was novelised as The Return of Reginald Perrin.

In the third series, novelised as The Better World of Reginald Perrin, Reggie and his wife open a therapy centre for bored middle-aged people. Although still very funny, it lacked the energy that the first two series had contained, and the ending saw Reggie come pretty much full circle and back where he started. He is rehired by CJ's brother FJ at Amalgamated Aerosols, with CJ himself as Reggie's supervisor. The final scene sees him contemplating another trip to the beach for another possible faked suicide. In 1982, as part of a show called The Funny Side of Christmas, there was a short, festive sketch featuring the regular cast crowding Reggie's house. The sketch appears to be set during Reggie's crisis and is out of synchronisation with the other episodes.

The fourth series, made long after Leonard Rossiter's death, shows the effect of Reggie's legacy: a fortune left to his friends and family but with strange conditions attached. This was largely seen as a failure by viewers, because time had moved on and the loss of Leonard Rossiter as the main character removed any affection for the series. Both book and series were titled The Legacy of Reginald Perrin.

Cast

  • Reginald Iolanthe Perrin: Leonard Rossiter
  • Joan Greengross, his secretary: Sue Nicholls
  • CJ, his boss: John Barron (CJ is fond of pompous statements beginning "I didn't get where I am today by ..." – except when Reggie becomes his boss, whereupon he says "I didn't get where you are today by...")
  • David Harris-Jones, 'Yes man': Bruce Bould
  • Tony Webster, 'Yes man': Trevor Adams
  • Elizabeth Perrin, his wife: Pauline Yates
  • Mark, their son: David Warwick
  • Linda Patterson, their daughter: Sally-Jane Spencer
  • Tom Patterson, her husband: Tim Preece (first two series and fourth series) and Leslie Schofield (third series)
  • Jimmy, Elizabeth's brother: Geoffrey Palmer
  • Doc Morrissey, company doctor at Sunshine Desserts: John Horsley
  • Seamus Finnegan, Irish Labourer with a genius for management: Derry Power
  • Kenny McBlane, Scottish Chef at Perrin's: Joseph Brady

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