Reggie Perrin returns: interview with creator David Nobbs
The show's creator David Nobbs has placed his character in the contemporary world - but the pressures of the rat race faced by the original Reggie (played by Leonard Rossiter) remain relevant today, as David explains:
Comedy Blog: What was the original premise behind Reggie Perrin?
David Nobbs: The original series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, adapted from my novel, told the story of a man being driven mad by the pressures of the rat race and a job that he found boring and thought fatuous.
The inspiration came from a newspaper article about dark-suited men creating a new flavour of jam: there was a photo of all these earnest men with little jars and spoons sitting round a board room table. I thought two days of that would drive me mad.
Comedy Blog: How did this new incarnation of Reginald Perrin come about?
David Nobbs: The new series was suggested to me and the BBC by Objective Productions [the independent production company responsible for Peep Show]. I thought that enough of the same pressures remained for the series to be relevant today - but also that there had been enough changes in the world of commerce to enable us to make this sufficiently different to be interesting.
Comedy Blog: What did you change for this modern-day update?
David Nobbs: 'Exotic' ices were out. In the days of Heston Blumental, nothing in the world of food is exotic any more. Male grooming seemed perfect, a growth area and many of its products unnecessary.
Comedy Blog: You invented the character and wrote the first three series alone - what's it been like working with another writer, Simon Nye, for the new one?
David Nobbs: I felt that I wanted to be involved in the writing of the new series, but that it was a big ask for me to do it all on my own for a second time. It needed a new look, a fresh approach. Simon Nye was suggested, and I jumped at that.
Comedy Blog: What was the writing process?
David Nobbs: It seemed right to all of us that Simon should try a first draft, giving a modern slant, and this is how we ended up working: detailed discussions, then Simon would write a first draft, and I would come in after that. It's no problem to me that in effect he thus became the senior writer. It was a natural progression.
Comedy Blog: His line of business has changed, but has Reggie?
David Nobbs: One of the biggest changes is that Reggie no longer has children, and that his wife Nicola works and has her own pressures - the stay-at-home wife of 1976 would have seemed unreal in 2009.
The CJ character, now called Chris Jackson, is a more modern boss too - head hunted from the animal foodstuffs sector, knowing nothing about male grooming. Very 2009 in modern Britain, sadly.
For more on Reggie Perrin, watch a clip and read an interview with star Martin Clunes on the BBC News website, and look out on this blog next week for an interview with Simon Nye.