Clas­sic TV shows ‘One Day at a Time’ and ‘Roseanne’ are on their way back; here are some more olden-days shows that should also be re­made

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

Look­ing ahead at the telly sched­ules for 2018, I see many, many re­boots and se­quels. This can be a good thing, Netflix’s re­make of Nor­man Lear’s

One Day at a Time is warm, up­lift­ing and funny and I have high hopes for Roseanne. Also, new things scare me and they clearly scare tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies. So here are some tele­vi­sion prop­er­ties from the olden days that should be re­made or re­booted.

Tales of the River­bank

Orig­i­nally an adap­ta­tion of James Her­bert’s

The Rats, Tales of the River­bank fea­tured real cud­dly an­i­mal ac­tors en­gaged in en­ter­tain­ing ac­tiv­i­ties such as pad­dling a river­boat with a mole, tak­ing tea with a wise old frog or pi­lot­ing a plane along­side a cheeky field mouse. As wildlife doc­u­men­taries go, it was very en­ter­tain­ing. For my re­boot, I would re­tain the es­sen­tial con­cepts but would add the odd anti-heroic touch, like hav­ing Rod­er­ick the Wa­ter Rat spread plague or Hammy the Ham­ster can­ni­balise his sib­lings or slow-coach side­kick Tur­tle not so much “teach­ing his friends pa­tience” as “frus­trat­ing his friends by be­ing very dif­fi­cult to de­vour”. HBO will snap it up.


A young boy be­friends an anachro­nis­tic cave­man, or, pos­si­bly, just an ugly, weird man who lives in the dump. Which is it? The re­boot, dis­turbingly, will leave that ques­tion to the viewer.

WorzelGu mm id ge P. I.

Worzel Gum­midge (Jon Per­twee) was an el­derly turnip-nog­gined gent who worked as a scare­crow and could change his head when re­quired (much like Jon Per­twee’s other fa­mous role, Doc­tor Who). His best friends were baf­fled and ne­glected school­child­ren John and Su­san, and he reg­u­larly said up­set­ting things like “I’ll be bum-swiz­zled”. The re­boot will see him move to the city and the let­ters “PI” added to the ti­tle. I will, on re­flec­tion, also add “PI”. to the ti­tle of Stig of the

Dump, just to give him a more whole­some rea­son to be hang­ing around a dump.


Two young raga­muffins go to spend a week­end at their rich boss’s sea­side man­sion only to find him deceased. They do what any­one would do in the cir­cum­stances: they an­i­mate him us­ing var­i­ous ropes and pul­leys, fool a woman into hav­ing sex with his corpse and pro­ceed to have the most mag­i­cal week­end of their lives. What joy­ful scamps. For my HBO TV re­boot, I will spread the ac­tion over sev­eral sea­sons and ex­plore, more deeply, what it means to live and party with a de­com­pos­ing body.

The Calor Kosan­gas Housewife of the Year

This pop­u­lar wom­an­ning com­pe­ti­tion was spon­sored by a gas com­pany be­cause sol­vent abuse was the only way most in­tel­li­gent Ir­ish women could get through the day in the 1980s. Over the course of this pro­gramme, women with the wits to run CERN or per­form brain surgery in­stead demon­strated how to make a casse­role while be­ing pa­tro­n­ised by a man in a nice suit. My pro­posed re­make would be just called The Pa­tri­archy and would be hosted by Panti Bliss and Ed­vard Munch’s paint­ing The Scream.

The John Player Tops

This cig­a­rette-com­pany-spon­sored va­ri­ety com­pe­ti­tion was ahead of its time. It fea­tured the em­ploy­ees of var­i­ous com­pa­nies dancing, singing and jap­ing in re­turn for job se­cu­rity and/or love. Who can for­get Waterford Glass ver­sus Packard Elec­tric? We sing songs about it still, where I’m from. Nowa­days, in a de-unionised world of mo­bile, tax-ef­fi­cient multi­na­tion­als, the fre­netic hoof­ing will be even more des­per­ate and the cor­po­rate box will surely look like some­thing from the Capi­tol in The

Hunger Games. It would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate, nowa­days, to have the show spon­sored by a cig­a­rette com­pany, so we would make do with an anti-anx­i­ety drug or methadone man­u­fac­turer. Ap­ple will only be al­lowed en­ter if they give us the ¤13 bil­lion they owe us (there’s an in­cen­tive, lads).


This was a gritty sec­ondary school-set drama that aired on RTÉ in the 1970s but was can­celled after an art room scene fea­tur­ing a naked life draw­ing model up­set the whole coun­try (then un­der the cosh of an au­to­cratic blood cult brought over here by a de­ranged Welsh­man). The Spike was, by all ac­counts, ter­ri­ble. But it might be nice if we re­booted just the art room scene and used it to re­place the An­gelus, just as a re­minder of how far we’ve come.

The Euro­vi­sion When We Used to Win it

Wasn’t it great when we used to win the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test? Didn’t that feel good? Well, rather than pin all our hopes on some reedy-voiced tyke who has won a singing com­pe­ti­tion or com­pleted his na­tional ser­vice in a boy­band, let’s go all North Korean on the Euro­vi­sion and fake it. Yes, that’s what I said: fake it.

Why not? The li­cence pay­ers won’t no­tice, they haven’t even read this far down the page. A big “live” shindig where per­form­ers from all over “Europe”, all played by Glen Hansard wear­ing dif­fer­ent wigs, are bested by Johnny Lo­gan or Dana, would surely be cheaper than send­ing a team to Gdansk. And it would also serve as a nice pro­pa­gan­dis­tic pre­cur­sor to Irexit.


The Rior­dans was an an­cient Ir­ish soap opera that was also used to prop­a­gate new farm tech­nol­ogy to a sim­ple, agrar­ian peo­ple. My re­boot would be set in Dublin’s tech quar­ter and would fol­low sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of a fam­ily of so­cial me­dia con­sul­tants as they sing folk songs about search-en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion and have tea with the priest.

“I be­lieve they’re hir­ing vlog­gers up at the big in­ter­net fac­tory,” he’ll say.

“No son of mine will vlog for the Yanks!” Pa Rior­dan will tweet, bang­ing his hand on the ta­ble and shak­ing the froth off his frap­puc­cino.


We should aim the new ver­sion of this in­fant BBC romp at grown-ups. We’re all a bit stressed th­ese days. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a kind lady read sto­ries to us, take us to visit a bot­tle fac­tory via a magic win­dow and guide us in grow­ing from an acorn to an oak, like Adrian Mole’s dad? Adults have colonised all other as­pects of youth cul­ture – pop mu­sic/fes­ti­vals/pub­lic tantrums – so why not Play School?

And while I’m at it, I’d also like to see Bosco get­ting a po­lit­i­cal in­ter­view show (he’d cer­tainly be more ag­gres­sive than Piers Mor­gan). Also, I want all peo­ple with Blue Peter badges recog­nised as mem­bers of a para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion and ar­rested.


Re­mem­ber the tele­vi­sion news? Re­mem­ber a time be­fore the day’s events were vom­ited end­lessly from the vi­brat­ing mo­bile hate screens to which our ner­vous sys­tems are wired? Re­mem­ber when new in­for­ma­tion did not come along­side the hys­ter­i­cal rav­ings of a thou­sand un­happy strangers? Re­mem­ber when nice older gentle­men with un­earned con­fi­dence, con­firmed in firm, dis­pas­sion­ate voices that the govern­ment had the sit­u­a­tion in hand?

Wouldn’t you like to just watch the news, on tele­vi­sion, at set times of the day, in­stead of fall­ing to your knees un­der the weight of your iPhone, gib­ber­ing and wail­ing like a loon?

Well, that was my big idea: “Let’s do news on the tele­vi­sion again”. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to some know-it-alls here at The Ir­ish Times, tele­vi­sion never stopped do­ing news. Well, la-di-da, look at them with their big news-ca­pa­ble brains. I bet they even read news­pa­pers. They think they’re so great.

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