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Remarried and Back at Sunshine Desserts 

Married - again - to Elizabeth and working,as Martin, at Sunshine Desserts - where he runs the Reginald Perrin Memorial Trust - Reggie is now getting dissatisfied with his new identity and ... See full summary »

Director:

Gareth Gwenlan (uncredited)

Writer:

David Nobbs (by)
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Cast

Episode cast overview:
Leonard Rossiter ... Reginald Perrin
Pauline Yates Pauline Yates ... Elizabeth Perrin
John Barron ... C.J.
Sue Nicholls ... Joan Greengross
Bruce Bould Bruce Bould ... David Harris-Jones
Trevor Adams Trevor Adams ... Tony Webster
Sally-Jane Spencer Sally-Jane Spencer ... Linda Patterson
Tim Preece Tim Preece ... Tom Patterson
Geoffrey Palmer ... Jimmy Anderson
John Horsley ... Doc Morrissey
David Rowley David Rowley ... Owen Lewis
Ken Barker Ken Barker ... G.P.O. Engineer
Derek Deadman Derek Deadman ... Man at telephone box
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Storyline

Married - again - to Elizabeth and working,as Martin, at Sunshine Desserts - where he runs the Reginald Perrin Memorial Trust - Reggie is now getting dissatisfied with his new identity and keen to return to being his old self. Joan sees through the disguise,and tries to blackmail him into having sex with her. Doc Morrissey,the firm's vague old medical officer,also knows who Martin really is and tells C.J. C.J. however fires both Doc and 'Martin',who reverts to being toothy Donald Potts and working in a piggery. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Genres:

Comedy

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 1977 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs

Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
The Commerce of the Absurd
4 September 2019 | by JamesHitchcockSee all my reviews

How do you improve on perfection? The first series of David Nobbs's "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" was as close to perfect as any British comedy series ever gets, and a great hit with both the viewing public and the critics, but there was a problem which wouldn't exist with a standard sit-com, where the TV executives could simply commission the scriptwriters to write some more episodes based around the same characters.

"The Fall and Rise...", however, wasn't a standard sit-com but the dramatization of a comic (or serio-comic) novel which, unlike a sit-com, had a beginning, a middle and an end. Nobbs therefore had to come up with an idea for a second novel, which was published as "The Return of Reginald Perrin", although the original title was kept for the television version. In the first series Nobbs's hero Reggie was a bored, stressed and frustrated middle-manager, commuting from his suburban home to his pointless job at a firm called Sunshine Desserts, where he was bullied and patronised by his dreadful boss CJ. (Did Nobbs, I wonder, hit on the name of the firm because the word "desserts" is "stressed" spelt backwards?) In desperation he fakes his suicide in an attempt to start a new life, but eventually ends up working for his old firm under an assumed identity.

In his second book and television series Nobbs inverts his original idea. As the story opens Reggie is still working at Sunshine Desserts, disguised as his alter ego Martin Wellbourne, but is sacked when CJ learns his true identity. As a despairing gesture against the System, Reggie and his wife Elizabeth open a shop called Grot, based around a concept described in the novel (but not in this series) as the Commerce of the Absurd. It has long been a commonplace criticism of the "Consumer Society", and one much heard in the seventies, that big business was, through the cunning use of advertising, seducing unwary consumers into purchasing useless items which they did not need. It is implied that Sunshine Desserts is a firm of this sort, with a business model based upon flogging the public overpriced, tasteless products with little nutritional value.

Reggie takes this idea one step further by being quite honest about what he is doing. Everything sold in Grot is absolutely useless and is advertised under the slogan "everything sold here is absolutely useless". Examples of Grot products include square hoops, cruet sets without holes and the home-made wines brewed by Reggie's son-in-law Tom. (During the seventies there was something of a vogue for making one's own wine from the most unlikely ingredients; Tom's noxious brews include such vintages as "sprout" and "nettle"). Against the odds, Reggie's venture proves a huge success, and he quickly becomes the millionaire boss of a big chain of stores. He ends up employing CJ and several other colleagues from Sunshine Desserts after that firm goes bust.

Reggie, however, finds that he does not enjoy life as a successful boss any more than he enjoyed it as an unsuccessful middle manager. He finds that he is still trapped by routine and tries to destroy Grot from within, first by hiring people whom he believes to be incompetent in key positions and then by relapsing into eccentric behaviour. He fails, partly because his new appointees all prove to have hidden talents and partly because behaviour which seemed odd and bizarre in a middle-class commuter seems refreshingly unconventional in a wealthy business tycoon. Reggie and Elizabeth decide it is time to take a drastic step.

Leonard Rossiter, Pauline Yates and all the other regulars from the earlier series return apart from David Warwick as Reggie's son Mark who was for some reason written out. Tom has shaved off his beard, and Reggie's brother-in-law Jimmy, now discharged from the Army, returns as a more sinister figure, involved with far-right politics and trying unsuccessfully to set up a secret vigilante force to intervene in some unspecified national emergency. Once again, Nobbs makes great use of the various characters' catch-phrases ("I didn't get where I am today...", "I'm a something-or-other person!", "Great!", Super!"). Other comedy series used similar phrases, "Dad's Army" being a notable example, but whereas the phrases used in that series ("Stupid boy!", "Don't panic!" and so on) were simply used for comic effect, in "Reggie Perrin" they seem to have a more satirical function, being the sort of lazy ways of speech people slip into as a substitute for thinking.

Like the first series, the second is essentially a satirical critique of British capitalism, but this time seen from the top rather than from the middle. Success and failure are shown as two sides of the same counterfeit coin, and neither automatically leads to happiness. Yes, there's a lot to laugh at in "Reggie Perrin", but behind the laughter Nobbs is holding up a mirror to contemporary British society. 10/10


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