TV's Frank Spencer to make return, but for Fox in the US
He was the character that made you wince at the screen more, perhaps, than any other on British television. And he appeared to be long gone.
But, in a move that risks as many groans as it does leaps of joy among his cult of fans with fond memories of the 1970s, the effeminate, haphazard disaster-zone that is Frank Spencer is set to make a return, in spirit at least, to the small screen.
The BBC has been asked to get working on scripts for a pilot episode of an American remake of the classic comedy Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, at the request of Fox TV, the American network owned by Rupert Murdoch. In what may prove one of the media mogul's more eccentric risks, Fox has asked the Beeb's Worldwide Production arm and Sony Pictures to embark on the revival, according to the Hollywood magazine Variety.
The extraordinary and somewhat unlikely news was greeted with glee by Raymond Allen, the creator of the original, which ran from 1973 to 1978 on BBC1 and embedded the brilliant, painfully awkward performances of Michael Crawford to the nation's psyches, if not hearts.
"I never would have dreamt 35 years ago when I originally wrote the series that dearly loved but disastrous Frank would be creating havoc on American soil," said Mr Allen, barely able to contain his jubilation. "It's a very exciting time... and a treasured moment of glory for Frank!"
In Some Mothers, the hapless but constantly optimistic Spencer – known to millions still for his catchphrase "Ooh Betty" – was constantly struggling to please his long-suffering, attractive red-head wife played by Michele Dotrice. Often dressed in his trade-mark beret and grey trench-coat, Spencer would plough into people's lives during his attempts, frequently causing calamitous accidents and even nervous breakdowns.
The first episode saw Spencer encouraged by the sensible and apparently normal Betty to go for a job interview as a sales rep to an ironmonger, or – as Spencer could not stop calling it – "wholeiron salemonger".
On arrival, Spencer causes an office assistant to topple from the top of a ladder simply by his unhinged grin; gets stuck in the lift for hours and – during the interview itself – proceedes to make a number of breakages, a tendency which caused Betty's original desire to get him out the house.
Some Mother's is the latest in a line of British comedy's to be remade for American screens, ranging from the 1970s sitcom Steptoe and Son, which became Stanford and Son, to, more recently, The Office for NBC.
The executive producer of BBC Worldwide, Paul Telegdy said: "We have felt for a while now that Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em would translate brilliantly across the pond."