THE tsunami of revivals and relaunches that hit TV late last year is hardly surprising given the country’s Brexit blues and people craving comfort viewing – pure TV nostalgia. We had revivals of Are You Being Served?, Porridge, and one-off remakes of original episodes from three of the greatest sitcoms: Steptoe And Son, Hancock’s Half Hour and Till Death Us Do Part.
Some believe political correctness has killed off dark, alternative TV comedy shows like Psychoville and The Office by overanalysing it – we mustn’t mock this or that. They claim most comedy IS based on laughing at others’ misfortunes which is healthy, acting as a vent for life’s stresses and frustrations.
For many, the original versions of Dad’s Army, Open All Hours and Porridge are ‘real’ people acting in character (not just a load of actors spouting so-called funny lines) – an era of performers working in front of audiences and feeding from them. Not the dull unblinking eye of a TV camera and teleprompt for a script that is often nothing more than a string of obscenities in modern sitcoms.
It often seems nowadays as if TV is too lazy to bother with anything but four-letter words and lavatory humour, divorced of originality and interest, relying on hackneyed programmes and repeats. Classic comedy used to hold up a mirror to society; now it just raises its middle finger.
However, the problem with any ‘return’ to a format (revivals, nostalgia TV) is that, like Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, if the public becomes saturated with a product, they’ll buy it. Give any new TV comedy show a long enough run (like Morecambe and Wise churned out every Christmas) and it becomes an institution (with Lloyd Webber, it’s the coach parties).
No, what we really need in 2017 are better writers, better scripts and better sketches. TV worth watching again, then? That’d be a laugh.
Finally, a footnote about the UK’s recent cold spell: sub-zero temperatures and arctic blasts from northern and central Europe are no longer good enough for us. Post-Brexit, our winters now come from Canada!
Nora Johnson’s psychological/ suspense crime thrillers ‘No Way Back,’ ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.99; £0.99) and iBookstore. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.