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The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

Hello and welcome back to My 70’s TV Childhood blog. Today, I want to take you on a trip down memory lane to explore a TV show that captured the essence of the era, “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.”

Watching television in the 1970s was a unique experience that united families and society in a way that modern technology can’t replicate. With just three channels that didn’t broadcast all the time, there was no option for recording, catch-up, or streaming. If you missed a show, you missed it. But for those of us who grew up in that era, the communal act of watching TV on unreliable, often black and white sets was an integral part of our shared experience.

As children, we often failed to appreciate the challenges our parents and other adults faced. Life seemed simpler, with our biggest dilemmas revolving around which channel to watch or remembering our PE kits for school. However, the reality for adults in the 70’s was quite different. Conventional societal norms and deference to authority figures still held sway, and the workplace was no exception.

In the workplace, clear distinctions existed between white-collar office workers and blue-collar shop floor employees. Hierarchy and divisions were prevalent, with strict guidelines governing behaviour and advancement. Stereotypes abounded, such as addressing superiors as “Sir” and the dreaded boss’s dinner party, a plot point in many sitcoms.

“The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” brilliantly captured this stifling work environment and one man’s quest to break free from it all.

The show, first broadcast in 1976, remains one of the BBC’s most beloved comedies. The iconic opening sequence, featuring Reggie running naked down a pebble beach and swimming in the sea in sped-up motion, is etched in our memories. Based on David Nobbs’ novel, ‘The Death of Reginald Perrin,’ the show was a dark comedy with poignant undertones.

Portrayed by Leonard Rossiter, Reggie Perrin was a middle-aged man grappling with a midlife crisis. He despised his job as a Sales Executive at Sunshine Desserts, and the daily grind of commuting. His mundane life led to bizarre daydreams and eccentric behaviour, including an obsession with his secretary, Joan.

Joan, portrayed by Sue Nicholls, was just one of the memorable characters in the series. Reggie’s boss, CJ (John Barron), became a comedic icon, known for his bombastic demeanour and catchphrase, “I didn’t get where I am today by….” The show introduced several sayings into the language, cementing its cultural impact.

The first series masterfully chronicled Reggie’s descent into madness and featured surreal moments like his hallucinatory encounters with a hippopotamus. The series addressed the theme of a man driven to desperation by the monotony of his existence, blending comedy, pathos, and tragedy.

In subsequent series, Reggie’s life took unexpected turns, including setting up a quirky shop called Grot and employing a motley crew of characters. While the later series had their moments, they couldn’t quite capture the magic of the original.

“The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” stands as a classic of British television, thanks to Leonard Rossiter’s brilliant performance, David Nobbs’ exceptional writing, and the memorable supporting cast. Attempts to revive the show in later years couldn’t replicate its unique charm. Some things are best left in the past, cherished as nostalgic treasures.

I’d love to hear your memories of Reggie Perrin and whether you share my sentiment about the later series. Tune into the My 70’s TV Childhood Podcast, like and rate us wherever you listen to podcasts, leave a comment, or connect with us on social media, and spread the word to your friends.

Stay tuned for more nostalgic journeys down memory lane with My 70’s TV Childhood.

Take care,


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Andy Green

    Grrrreeeat episode! I think you’re right; for many of us who grew up in the 1970s, we were largely shielded from the choppy economic and political waters through which our parents’ generation were having to navigate. However, despite my tender years, I loved watching Reginald Perrin, probably as much for its comedy and catch-phrases than for the social commentary.

    I actually did enjoy the Martin Clunes ‘remake’, as I think it showed that, despite all the social and technological changes in the intervening three decades, the fundamentals of office life hadn’t really moved on.

    Anyway, enough of this as I need to go and investigate why our company’s market share of Matcha Tiramisu is down 1.73% in the Wollangong East district.

    1. Oliver


      Thanks for your kind words Andy and so pleased you enjoyed listening. I’ve had lots of comments on this episode already and opinion is divided on both series 2 and 3 and the Martin Clunes reboot. I have to confess I only watched the first episode of the reboot and that was enough for me. Perhaps I should give it another go?

      I didn’t get where I am today without giving things another go!

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