On the heels of yesterdays announcement that the BBC is looking into reviving several classic British sitcoms, including the Ronnie Barker classic, Porridge, and the Michael Crawford’s Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, as part of their forthcoming Landmark Sitcom Season. Officials at the BBC announced that the series would mark 60 years since Hancock’s Half Hour transferred from radio to television on Friday 6th July 1956 and promising to “…revisit loved classics alongside launching new shows“. Expected to coincide with the inaugural broadcast of Hancock’s Half Hour, the season will be launched with a live broadcast of Mrs Brown’s Boys.
Thanks to our good friends over at the British Comedy Guide, we now know much more than the law allows about this ambitious effort on behalf of the BBC. The BCG is reporting that according to the industry publication, Broadcast, BBC executives are looking at The Good Life, Are You Being Served?, Up Pompeii! and Keeping Up Appearances in addition to Porridge and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em as program that could possibly return for one-off specials.
You may remember back in 2013 that Open All Hours was revived with David Jason returning as the owner of Arkwrights in Still Open All Hours. The special, which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2013, was so well received that a first series of six programs were produced with a second set of six episodes set to premiere this December on BBC 1. Same would hold true for any and all of the proposed revivals. Each show would come back for a one-off 30-minute special with the potential to then continue on to a series if the episode proves popular.
This could prove to be a bit difficult for a number of different reasons as the BCG points out. In most cases, given the lengthy time period that has passed since each series has actually aired, producers will be faced with the fact that either the writers have passed (i.e. David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd), a majority of the actors involved in the original have passed (i.e. John Inman, Mollie Sugden, Frank Thornton, Wendy Richard and Trevor Bannister) or both. In that instance, producers will be faced with the herculean task of needing to either create modern spin-offs featuring new characters or see some central roles re-cast.
Unfortunately, even though I don’t want to be standing in the ‘good old days syndrome’ line, you are going to at least have to point in direction of the skeptical line that this can be pulled off at this point. Each of these series are such classics. Thankfully, it’s the BBC that will be remaking each bit of brilliance and not some random American producer trying to make a U.S. version of a British classic.
Personally, I would so welcome a remake of Up Pompeii, but with Frankie Howerd gone I can’t fathom how anyone could pull this off. Howerd’s to-camera monologues and ad-libs were priceless.