TV reboots: there’s a time and a place

Blog > What to watch
22 Mar • 7 min read

If the last couple of years have taught us anything - it’s that nostalgia is very much on the agenda when it comes to film and television. We’ve seen everything from our old Marvel favourites making a return, to classic 90’s shows being resurrected. And it was the latter that really got us thinking.

With the recent success of the Larkins, which paid homage to a British classic, Darling Buds of May, we sat down and reminisced on some of the best shows that have enjoyed a second run - as well as some that we'd love to see on our screens again. Here’s what we came up with.

The good

It’s hard to get a reboot right. The pressure to live up to its initial incarnation, added to the pressure of seeking some sort of originality is a tough conundrum to solve. Few bother with the hassle of giving it a try, while even fewer manage to actually get it right. Perhaps one of the better examples of a rerun done well is classic game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Famous for its fantastic, edge-of-your-seat tension as much as it is for its controversy, the original run presented by Chris Tarrant was always going to be a tough act to follow.

But follow it they did. How do you live up to a game show that remains one of the most talked about in British TV history? Draft in one of the most controversial, and divisive characters in the UK to be the host. Love him, or loathe him - we’ve all got an opinion on Jeremy Clarkson. And it must be said that the former Top Gear mainstay has more than made his mark on the show.

And credit where it’s due - ITV have a pretty impeccable record when it comes to restoring game shows from years gone by. Who Wants to be a Millionaire can comfortably sit alongside the likes of Family Fortunes and Catchphrase when it comes to enjoying a successful second outing.

The bad

Just because a show has been a total smash hit, it doesn’t guarantee that lightning will strike twice again in a different country or era. Some have found this out the hard way. Take cult classic Peep Show for example, from one of the UK’s most quotable and hilarious shows still to this day, to an instant flop when repackaged for a US version.

The frankly ridiculous situations Mark and Jeremy get themselves caught up in are so intrinsically ‘British.’ So not only did the jokes often not quite add up - but hearing very English colloquialisms regurgitated in an American accent just didn’t work from the offset. They even inexplicably ditched the show’s iconic POV camera shots.

Sadly, there have been a few more culprits when it comes to a transatlantic translation. Anyone remember Gracepoint - the US version of the hugely popular Broadchurch? Didn’t think so. Eyebrows were already raised slightly when David Tennant put pen to paper on a deal to reprise his role for the remake. They were raised even more when the former Doctor Who actor seemed to have picked up a dodgy American accent along the way. It’s safe to say something just didn’t click with this whatsoever.

The jury’s out

For those who love a spy thriller, the Ipcress Files, based on the 1965 film, has kept us on the edge of our seat. The ITV reboot sees ex-smuggler turned spy Harry Palmer at the centre of a dangerous undercover mission, where he uses his connections to find a missing British nuclear scientist.

With cast members including Tom Hollander and Lucy Boyle, it has all ingredients for a perfect drama. The show only hit our screens this month and with two episodes still to go, the jury’s out on whether this reboot is a winner! However for those who can’t wait, you can get a sneak-peek at the final two episodes on ITV Hub.

What we want to see

Now we’ve had a look at the good and the bad, it’s time to figure out which shows we’d like to see brought back from obscurity. British telly has been in a pretty healthy position post-lockdown - there’s always room for a little nostalgia though.

With Waterloo Road already being commissioned for a dramatic comeback, we’d love to see Grange Hill come back on a regular basis. The show’s bosses have already announced plans for a film next year, so what better way to fully cement the comeback than by having it on our screens regularly.

Or what about one last dance over at Sun Hill police station. Ever since its final episode in 2010, fans of The Bill have been hoping for a return. With the huge popularity of shows such as Trigger Point and Line of Duty - there definitely seems to be a gap in the market. Bring it back, we say!

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear from you either way. Should there still be a clamour for these nostalgic shows? Or is it time to move on to some original ideas? As always you can reach us via email, Twitter or Facebook.