Open All Hours Christmas special: is no TV classic safe from being revived, reheated – or ruined?

It seems telly bosses would happily screen Rising Damp without Rigsby and probably Father Ted with no Father Ted

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They’re bringing back Open All Hours. Terrific. Why not? It’s only been 30 years. Good on the BBC.

The classic corner shop sit-com is being revived this Christmas, and I’ll tell you this for free (which is less than Arkwright would have charged): if my nana even thinks about trying to blag the best seat on the sofa while it’s on, she’s being booted straight into a beanbag.

Of course some churlish curmudgeons might say turning to a show last screened in 1985 is a desperate attempt to improve festive viewing figures; and they might suggest such long-gone greats should be allowed to rest in peace instead of being dragged into an era they don’t belong.

But such clowns ignore two important questions which need answering: does Lynda Baron still look hot in a nurse’s uniform now she’s 74? And did shop assistant Granville, played by David Jason, ever get to take over old Albert Arkwright’s store?

Personally, I never thought he would. It seemed to me a bloke who continually lost a fight to a till wouldn’t stand much chance in a battle with the big four supermarkets. In an age where Tesco would open an Express in your airing cupboard if they could, I imagined Granville wouldn’t last long.

Turns out I was wrong. Seems our hero had hidden acumen all along. The new episode will indeed see him running the shop.

A shame, of course, script writer Roy Clarke has decided to kill off Arkwright himself. But then, as I understand, circumstance rather forced his hand. You know, what with actor Ronnie Barker now being dead and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I bow to no-one in my love of Seventies sit-coms. Shakespeare himself, I’d happily argue, would have been proud to have series two of Porridge on his CV. But how sad, in 21st century Britain, no TV classic is safe from being revived, remade, rebooted, rehashed and reheated – or, to put it more succinctly, ruined. How sad we’ve had to witness Ant and Dec p**s over the legacy of The Likely Lads, Ray Winstone soil the memory of The Sweeney, and – for the love of God! – Gladiators brought back minus Jet.

See, it seems to me, telly bosses would happily screen Rising Damp without Rigsby and probably Father Ted with no Father Ted. But anything so maverick as an original idea? Eeek, less interested.

Which is a joke, is it not?

Because while it’s boring to rant about popular culture – one has almost always had to dig beneath the mainstream to find true gold – wouldn’t it be nice if our terrestrial channels took a little more inspiration from the classics while taking a little less of the material? Which is to say, wouldn’t it be nice if they spent less time bringing back once-popular programmes, and spent more energy honing original ideas, nurturing young talent and encouraging fresh concepts?

Then they might just come up with something to rival those old shows, no?

And we – me and you – might live in a world where we could remember The Likely Lads when they were likable, and The Sweeney when they didn’t have automatic weapons, and Arkwright, not as a photo on a wall as he will be in the new Open All Hours, but as the living, breathing, laugh-a-minute miser overcharging for everything his little shop stocked.

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