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The Brittas Empire
Want to blame anyone for obese Britain? You don't have to look further than Gordon Brittas, the nasal nightmare of an anally-retentive leisure centre manager who could single-handedly put any fitness-faddist off the idea of ever donning lycra again.
Played with gusto by Chris Barrie, Mr Brittas was a swarm of overcomplex plans, initiatives and regulations dressed in a blue blazer.
Presiding over a team consisting of homeless receptionist Carole, who kept her children in the cupboard, handyman Colin, whose permanently septic hand left its mark on many a visitor, overenthusiastic coach Linda, stroppy secretary Julie, shy Gavin and his over-attentive partner Tim, it was hardly surprising that each new scheme the visionary Brittas conceived was reduced to rubble by each episode’s end.
A similar fate was also to befall the mental state of Gordon's long-suffering wife Helen (Green Wing's Pippa Haywood). Only stalwart Deputy Manager Laura ever succeeded in halting Brittas's madness.
Despite its mundane setting, Richard Fegen and Andre Norris's "The Brittas Empire" was an often bizarre journey through a world filled with disaster. Wherever Mr Brittas lurked the prospect of serious injury (or Brittas's attempted murder) was never far away and, wherever he had been, chaos (cars filled with concrete, public footpaths through the women's loos) dwelt.
A successful mainstream sitcom, The Brittas Empire never quite made it into the nation's heart. Perhaps its plots were too outlandish and cartoon-like for BBC ONE at 8.30, perhaps the problem was that the essential plot (Brittas being incredibly irritating) was the same each week.
Nonetheless it won itself a large audience over seven series during the 1990s and even gave birth to six ten-minute "Get Fit with Brittas" specials to promote healthy living. Gordon would have been loudly - and irritatingly - proud.
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