1 9 9 1 – 1 9 9 7 (UK)
53 x 30 minute episodes
Chris Barrie starred as the annoying, pedantic, anally-retentive, incompetent and accident-prone leisure centre manager Gordon Brittas in this 1990s classic.
The ineffectual staff of the duller-than-dull Whitbury Leisure Centre were plunged weekly into bizarre and outrageous plots.
Possessed by the jinx-touch, every improvement the pompous, over-zealous Brittas planned for his personal fiefdom ended in comic disaster, usually of epic proportions.
In one episode – ‘The Assassin’ – his misguided endeavours filled an entire hospital Intensive Care Unit, which – as his neurotic, pill-popping wife Helen (Pippa Haywood) was obliged to point out – was “a good score, even for Gordon!”
Those working under Brittas included sensible assistant Laura (Julia St John); tearful and permanently apologetic receptionist Carole (Harriet Thorpe) – who kept her children in a cupboard behind her desk because she couldn’t get childcare; incompetent (and pustulous) Geordie maintenance man Colin Weatherby (Michael Burns); secretary Julie (Judy Flynn); and the fitness and sports coaches, Tim (Russell Porter), Gavin (Tim Marriott) and Linda (Jill Greenacre).
Gavin and Tim were a gay couple but kept their relationship secret from Brittas.
Despite his mega-bumbling, Brittas was, at one point, appointed European Commissioner for Sport, before returning to the Leisure Centre (motto: Semper Omnibus Facultas) for more mayhem. A new arrival at the centre was Penny (Anouschka Menzies), boss of the privatised sauna/solarium.
A spin-off series of 10-minute keep fit segments – Get Fit With Brittas – aired on BBC1 in 1997. Guests included Nicholas Parsons, Lesley Joseph, June Whitfield, Leslie Ash, Kriss Akabusi, and weather forecaster Suzanne Charlton.
Julia St John