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Perrin remake wins 5million viewers

Reggie Perrin attracted an impressive 5 million viewers to BBC One on Friday night, despite many critics damning it as a poor imitation of the Leonard Rossiter original.

It attracted 22 per cent of the total audience between 9.30pm and 10pm, and a million more than were watching Hell's Kitchen on ITV1.

The Martin Clunes sitcom also benefited from following Have I Got News for You, which pulled in a strong 5.6 million viewers and a 25 per cent audience share.

Critics were divided, with many saying the show compared badly to the original.

The Mirror’s Jim Shelley said bluntly that the show ‘ruined our memory of one of the great British comedies of all time,’ saying: ‘There were only big two things wrong with the re-make/update of Reggie Perrin: the idea and the execution.’

The Guardian’s Sam Woollaston said: ‘Leonard Rossiter must be turning in his grave’ adding that the original was ‘wonderful, and unique in its time; a copy can only be disappointing.’

In the Sunday Times, AA Gill said: ‘Is it funny? Not really. Actually, not remotely. Clunes isn’t funny. It’s not what he does. He’s popular instead. He’s a popular unfunny funny man, hugely likeable. Funny people are generally unpleasant.’

And the News Of The World’s Ian Hyland said: ‘Fair play to Martin Clunes. He promised this revival would be “entirely different” to the original 1970s masterpiece, and he was right. It's not funny.’

But other critics were more impressed. The Independent’s Tom Sutcliffe admitted the idea seemed ‘depressing’ on paper – competing ‘not only with memories of its own source, but also of The Office’.

But he concluded: ‘It really is a bit surprising, then, that Reggie Perrin should work as well as it does. Martin Clunes helps a lot. He looks funny when he's glum, in a way that's sufficiently different to Leonard Rossiter. And the script – a collaboration between Simon Nye and David Nobbs – has some good lines in it.’

And in The Times, Andrew Billen said it was ‘very funny, largely because of Martin Clunes as Perrin who lumbers through home, his daily commute and his office life,’ adding, controversially: ‘He is funnier than Rossiter was in the part.’

Published: 27 Apr 2009

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