20 April 2008 | Muldwych
As good as it could have been without Reggie.
In many ways, The Legacy Of Reginald Perrin is a testament to the faith the BBC had in series creator David Nobbs, given that the star of the original series - and the main reason for its success - had passed on. 'Legacy' instead focuses instead upon the supporting characters, giving Geoffrey Palmer, by this time considered a safe pair of hands in a starring role, centre seat. New supporting characters are also added to fill out the cast, most notably Patricia Hodge, as the legal executor of Reggie Perrin's fortune, for which the others must do something silly in order to collect their share.
The pen of David Nobbs ensures that the series at all times maintains the feel of the original, and the returning cast generally seem to slip effortlessly back into their roles. Time may have softened John Barron a little, but the defiant spark accompanying every mixed metaphor is still there. However, although everyone concerned gives their all, it just isn't the same without the title character. Perrin and Rossiter were the dynamoes that drove the entire series. While the supporting characters were content to put up with their mundane middle-class lives, every fibre of Reggie's being yearned for more, and he went out and got it, achieving new levels of wonderful lunacy each time. Nobbs is very much aware of this, since the premise of 'Legacy' has to do with everyone wondering just how to achieve similar heights of silliness in order to claim their inheritance.
It's a brave try, and certainly a very watchable one. It's almost like watching scenes from original episodes where Reggie isn't in the room. Nonetheless, even though the final episode suggests quite strongly that this wasn't meant to be a one-off series, it's not difficult to see why it was. And to paraphrase CJ, I didn't get where I am today by not seeing why it was.