IAN HART: Retro gold or lazy broadcasting?

Ian Hart
Ian Hart
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In the week when ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ was voted the greatest sitcom of the 21st century, the BBC have rolled back the years with the start of the classic sitcom season which sees classic comedies given one-off modern updates.

The season kicked off on Sunday evening with versions of ‘Are You Being Served?’ and a modern version of Porridge featuring Fletcher’s grandson incarcerated for cybercrimes.

As a child of the 70s who watched both shows back in the day I was prepared to give it go, but what followed was ironically on a par with when I watched the aforementioned Mrs Brown’s Boys – I didn’t laugh once, and at the end of it the only conclusion I could reach was there was 60 minutes of my life I would never get back.

The Porridge episode, penned by the original writers, was marginally better than the re-visiting of Grace brothers, but that’s almost like saying which would you prefer – a stinking cold or man-flu?

Being courtesy of the Beeb clearly it was the good old licence payers who financed the project.

Money well spent? Not in my opinion, a bit like the recent Dad’s Army film, recreating classic comedy is almost a non-starter.

Mrs Slocombe’s “pussy” was of its time – Sherrie Hewison isn’t Mollie Sugden in the same way Jason Watkins may have won a BAFTA, but his recreation of Mr Humphries was like a pub singer trying to be Ol Blue Eyes on karaoke night.

In short, as an exercise probably another El Dorado for the Beeb, and a smack in the face for the next generation of the nation’s mainstream comedy writers.

Then again, if the readers of Radio Times think that Mrs Brown’s Boys surpasses the likes of The Office, Extras and Phoenix Nights, is that no more than the viewing public deserve?

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