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The Brittas Empire

Speculation is growing that popular BBC sitcom The Brittas Empire could be making a comeback - after the cast reunited to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary. The show revolved around the inept manager of fictional Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre, whose bright ideas normally ended in disaster.

The show ran on BBC1 for seven series - comprising 52 episodes, from 1991 to 1997. Chris Barrie played Brittas, who presided over a rather strange collection of staff including receptionist Carole (played by Harriet Thorpe), whose children stayed in a cupboard at the leisure centre.

Handyman Colin (played by Mike Burns) had a continually septic hand, while lively coach Linda (played by Jill Greenacre) was just too enthusiastic. Brittas' long-suffering wife Helen (played by Pippa Haywood) ended up with a fragile mental state, thanks to her husband's antics.

The show was a huge success with both fans and critics. The plot of having an incompetent person controlling other people had the same traditional British humour as Dad's Army, while its sense of absurdity also appealed to a younger audience.

The crazier plots revolved around Brittas' attempts to introduce new initiatives to the leisure centre, one of which resulted in cars being filled with concrete and another which led to a public footpath being built through the ladies' toilets.

The first five series were written by Richard Fegen and Andrew Norriss, who created the show. It was supposed to end with Brittas being killed by a water tank falling on top of him. However, the BBC wanted to keep the show going, so they recruited new writers who wrote a further two series and a Christmas special in 1996.

The only thing that disappointed fans was the ending of the final series - when it turned out the whole thing had been a waking nightmare that Brittas had on the journey to the leisure centre for an interview as manager. In the same way that Dallas viewers were expected to suspend belief when Bobby Ewing rose from the dead in another "bad dream" storyline, Brittas Empire fans had to do the same and it didn't go down too well!

In a rather bizarre twist, considering Brittas' turning everything he touched to chaos, the show spawned six "Get Fit with Brittas" special episodes aimed at promoting healthy living.

Ending aside, the sitcom was a big success and following the cast reunion earlier this year, speculation increased that the show might return to our screens. Reports in the national press, attributed to "a source" close to the show, suggested most of the original actors wanted to film a new series. Later, Chris Barrie himself hinted that the reunion may have created a platform to do something new with the comedy.

It wouldn't be the first time a new series had been on the cards. However, the previous attempt to resurrect The Brittas Empire failed after the BBC and the writers couldn't agree on the scripts.

Although The Brittas Empire was a great show, no-one would ever want to work out at a place like Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre in the real world! It would be sure to end in disaster. Health and safety is paramount at leisure centres and that's why Coruba's range of rubber safety matting is so useful.

Our wet area and pool matting is ideal for swimming pools, saunas and showers, while our rubber gym mats promote safety in a gym environment. They are also suitable for Pilates, yoga, high-intensity interval training, cross-fit sessions and other keep fit activities.

Keep fit, stay safe… with Coruba’s rubber matting products!

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