The Stuff of Dreams

You know that To The Manor Born Christmas special last year? Well:

a) Does anyone think that a one-off Brittas special, as talked about by Chris Barrie at EVERY DJ EVER, is actually a possibility?

b) Can everyone tell that I’m going through a big list of things I’ve been meaning to write for fucking ages?

I must admit, I always thought Chris’s notions of a special were something akin to crazy-talk, and the BBC would never be interested. But the BBC have shown a lot more interest in reviving old comedy shows recently – as well as Manor, there was the ‘Allo ‘Allo special, and the Goodies one as well. Is Brittas widely remembered enough for a special to happen? And, for that matter, would Fegen and Norriss be interested – because if they aren’t, there would be little point.

So many questions, so few answers. Unfortunately, the one thing we can say at this point is that a Brittas revival by the BBC might be more likely than a Dwarf one. And who would ever have though that would be the case…

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17 Responses to The Stuff of Dreams

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  1. An interesting theory at the end there, but somehow I don’t see it happening. But there’s hope, I guess.

  2. BBC4 brings you The Curse Of Brittas, starring Mark Heap

  3. Should it happen? Yes. Will it happen? No. It’s not luvvie enough to be seen as a ‘classic’ sitcom. Blackadder’s a different story. I can see that special eventually happening (was gonna be set in the ’60s)

  4. G&T Admin

    Yes it was going to be called the Blackadder Five. I’d rather see a Blackadder set in Roman times, or the other rumoured one about him being the 14th disciple, rather than the 60s. And after seeing ‘Back and Forth’, which was OK but it missed that energy, and the endless product placement and corporate bummery started to annoy me, I genuinely think they won’t be able to write Blackadder like they used to.

  5. They’d have to pretend the last episode didn’t happen (well, the last two series would be an idea as well…) as that ended with a depressing “It was all a dream” conclusion.

  6. G&T Admin

    You can always pretend that the train stuff *was* the dream sequence. Although there’s no way of really organically mentioning that, so they’d be better off just ignoring it. (Very few people remember exactly what happened in that last episode anyway, I suspect.)

    Still, I don’t really think a special will happen either – it’s just not remembered enough, I think, however unfair I think that is. The only thing that makes me wonder is that I wouldn’t have thought Manor was likely to get a special either. It only ran for three series between 1979-81, and whilst it’s fondly remembered by some, it doesn’t exactly go down into classic sitcom status. And Brittas *did* make it into that Top 50 sitcoms thing…

  7. Problem is Brittas seems genuinely unloved by the BBC. I don’t think its ever been fully repeated on BBC 1 or 2 (I only remember it on the old ON Digital Granada channel) and they couldn’t even be bothered to do the DVD releases themselves – they farmed it out to Eureka.

    As PerformingMonkey says its not luvvy enough. It doesn’t feature anyone like Atkinson, Enfield, Fry, Laurie, Elton etc etc.

    Finally To The Manor Born & Allo Allo were both repeated on the main BBC channels over and over.

    Nah I can’t say Brittas returning – Dwarf is BBC2’s most successful comedy ever and they’re not even interested in that. :(

  8. > You can always pretend that the train stuff *was* the dream sequence

    The bloody thing already clashed with the future-set Christmas special anyway…

  9. G&T Admin

    Finally To The Manor Born & Allo Allo were both repeated on the main BBC channels over and over.

    Good point, and one I should have considered – it helps keep the show alive. They were repeating both Manor and ‘Allo ‘Allo on Sunday afternoons a while back, I think. Brittas got repeats whilst it was running – I saw them in the Radio Times listings when I was doing some research a while back – but once the show finished, they stopped.

    Which is why the idea of a “classic” sitcom is a slight misnomer – they often only get a chance to *be* classic if they’re repeated properly! (The same with great comedy moments – Fork Handles is only remembered as a ‘classic’ sketch because it’s been repeated on clip shows ad nauseum. It’s FAR from the best Two Ronnies sketch.)

    Brittas did really well, and lasted for seven series – why *wasn’t* it repeated? What stopped it? Is the content seen as too risque – that it just about suited an 8:30 slot, but wouldn’t be suitable for earlier repeat slots?

    Having said ALL of that – it’s true that The Goodies got a special, despite being refused a repeat on the BBC for YEARS. Which is proof that it CAN happen. Still, even without the repeats, The Goodies is remembered more fondly than Brittas. Which doesn’t upset me too much, as The Goodies is great.

  10. G&T Admin

    Fork Handles is only remembered as a ?classic? sketch because it?s been repeated on clip shows ad nauseum. It?s FAR from the best Two Ronnies sketch.

    Useless fact #87632:

    The Official title for that sketch was actually called “Annie Finkhouse”, and the original draft was found my a lady in her attic and was credtied under Ronnie Barker’s pseudonym, Gerald Wiley.

    I’ll shut up now.

  11. I think that the decision to make a Manor Born special was understandable. It’s one of the most watched comedies ever and both of the main stars are still very recognisable faces. Those characters are immediately recognisable as well.

    To bring Brittas back would be weirder I guess. Although it was successful, it was never watched by as many people as Manor Born, Chris’s is the only face many people would know and the characters have probably been forgotten. They would have to spend so long re-introducing the characters that it would be tough to make it work imo.

  12. I really enjoyed the TTMB special. Which is especially interesting as I never really took to the original series. Some good, proper laughs in there.

    > Although it was successful, it was never watched by as many people as Manor Born

    This is true, but maybe a little unfair – Brittas arrived a full decade later. Channel 4 and Sky were competing, Brittas played weekdays not Sundays…and some of us were busy playing on our Amigas. :-)

    Still, it’s a fair enough point; it was a success in its slot (you don’t get recommissioned six times otherwise) – but, as has been said, it’s didn’t benefit from the repeat support that other shows have sometimes received, which makes a big difference to the building of an audience.

    > Chris?s is the only face many people would know and the characters have probably been forgotten. They would have to spend so long re-introducing the characters that it would be tough to make it work imo.

    I don’t expect everybody watching TTMB over Christmas knew the show. It’s situation comedy – done right, it should be pick-up-able at any stage. The back story, relationships and characters aren’t hugely complex in Brittas. If they can be established in a half-hour pilot, they can certainly be recapped and built on in an hour special.

    I suspect people might recognise Julia St. John and Pippa Haywood, though it was never a ‘star-led’ show (beyiond Chris himself) and they’re ‘hmm, didn’t I see her in something…?’ actors. But I don’t for a second doubt that that dads around the country who couldn’t name any of the secondary characters if asked would recognise and flashback to the whole thing instantly if a new special were broadcast.

    I think you’re right, that it’d never happen, for those and other reasons. But I disagree that it wouldn’t work, or get decent enough figures, if it did.

  13. > I think you?re right, that it?d never happen, for those and other reasons. But I disagree that it wouldn?t work, or get decent enough figures, if it did.

    Well it certainly could work if the original writers were to write it but I do think it could be tough. In Manor Born the main story I guess was about the two main characters, in Brittas you have half a dozen important relationships to get across. As you said, that was done in the pilot and could be done again but I don’t think the pilot was one of the stronger episodes.

    Anyway I would definitely like to see it happen but, as everyone says, it probably never will.

  14. I’ve been trawling through the box set recently and have enjoyed almost every minute of it, there is so much I’d forgotten. It all does come back very quickly though.

    I love the characters throughout but had forgotten just how much Carole and those bloody kids in the drawer grated on me towards the end.

    Much as I’d love to see a return, I cant see it happening..

    I would also love to see more Blackadder and this would seem more likely. And it has to be said that the entire cast are far more high profile and influential.

  15. >Gerald Wiley

    I initially read that as ‘Gerald Willy’ and giggled a little.

  16. Just don’t think that Brittas is fondly remembered enough to realistically justify it.

  17. G&T Admin

    I think that’d be the BBC’s view, too – although I think it’s a shame, because as Andrew said, I think it’d find an audience.

    I’ve been watching the series again recently, Frankly, I laugh more at it more than I ever have at Dwarf. Other factors come into play there, of course, as I think I talked about recently – the fact that I always watched Dwarf alone rather than with someone, and I’ve seen it so often now – but even so, it really deserves more recognition than it gets.

    What’s weird is that in my experience, it often doesn’t get that recognition even amongst hardcore comedy fans either. Even the hardcore comedy fans who love mainstream sitcom.

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