The Brittas Empire Christmas Special (BBC1, 1994)
The Brittas Empire is one of my favourite sitcoms from the 90s and there were a couple of Christmas specials made, so here’s a review of the one shown in 1994 called “In The Beginning”. This episode is set at the end of 2019 which would have been 25 years away when it was originally shown, but now is barely a couple of years in the future which is rather remarkable.
Every year on New Year’s Eve the staff reunite at a castle in Scotland to remember when the Leisure Centre opened which was the time that they first met one another, with this occasion being the 30th anniversary, although most of them have gone to have success in much different areas in the years that have passed. For example, Gavin is now a politician, Carole is a concert pianist, and Tim is a novelist.
There are some continuity errors in this episode. Firstly, it states that the Leisure Centre opened in late-1989 when it was early-1991, and the flashback also features the series five cast, at least one of which didn’t appear in the first series. We discover what happened at the start, Christmas 1989 has just passed, but there has been a heavy snowstorm, and no-one is able to leave. How will they fill the time?
As the days pass, they begin to despair. They are beginning to run out of food, it is still very cold, Colin is having trouble with his boiler, and Mr Brittas is struggling to keep the morale up. They then realise that a lorry that crashed outside was containing costumes for a play, and they will come in very useful. And they see in the New Year together by having a party, before the snow finally clears and they can go home.
The difficult situation helped them to bond though, and despite some of them now being successful millionaires, everyone still takes the time to fly round the world to attend this special occasion every year to meet old friends including Mr Brittas who now has a knighthood, seemingly for his services to solving all the world’s problems. Well, it was his dream.
I’m fairly sure that this was supposed to be the final episode of The Brittas Empire, as everything had been concluded, but due to popular demand Mr Brittas actually returned to cause chaos for another two series, and this was also the final episode that was written by Richard Fegen and Andrew Norriss who were also the creators of the show. Earlier this year the cast of The Brittas Empire reunited 20 years after the show came to an end, it was great seeing them back together again, who knows if there will ever be any more episodes?