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The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. Reginald Perrin (Leonard Rossiter). Image credit: British Broadcasting Corporation.

The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin

Mid-life crisis sitcom about a bored executive who fakes his own suicide and seeks to reinvent himself in a desperate search for purpose & contentment

Genre:
Sitcom
Broadcast:
1976 - 1979  (BBC One)
Episodes:
21 (3 series)
Starring:
Leonard Rossiter, Pauline Yates, John Barron, Sue Nicholls, John Horsley, Trevor Adams, Bruce Bould, Theresa Watson, Geoffrey Palmer, Tim Preece, Leslie Schofield
Writers:
David Nobbs
Production:
British Broadcasting Corporation

Based on David Nobbs's comic novel The Death Of Reginald Perrin, this era-defining sitcom follows the successive breakdowns and recoveries of put-upon, bored office worker Reginald Perrin.

Perrin, a middle-aged executive working for Sunshine Desserts, has long grown bored of his humdrum, repetitive suburban life with wife Elizabeth, eccentric boss CJ, and ravishing secretary Joan. Regularly drifting off into fanciful daydreams as his only means of mental stimulation, Reggie finally snaps and fakes his own suicide, eventually returning as "Martin Wellbourne", his own (non-existent) best friend.

Under the new identity, Reggie embarks upon an affair with his own wife, and returns to work at Sunshine Desserts, but it is not long before he grows tired of 'Martin' and unmasks himself. However, CJ does not take kindly to the deception and fires him.

Increasingly frustrated with middle-class suburban life once more, Reggie mockingly establishes Grot, a business selling totally useless goods such as round dice. However, much to his distress, Grot becomes an overnight success with its products flying off the shelves as highly-valued novelties.

The Perrins become billionaires off the back of the company's success, but Reggie is fast spiraling toward another breakdown. Eventually, with the money from Grot, Reggie and Elizabeth open their home as a new-age community cum health retreat for other middle class couples hoping to become better, healthier, happier people. Can this finally find Reggie contentment?

Our Review: Reginald Perrin, played so well by Leonard Rossiter, was a great character in a great sitcom. The fact the central character was losing his mind opened up a whole world of wonderful comic possibilities (including visions of his mother-in-law as a hippopotamus), and in an era in which growing discontentment with everyday life also saw successes such as The Good Life on television screens, this subversive, quite literally escapist sitcom captured the minds of a nation.