With Blackadder set to ride again, possibly as a scheming 60s hippy, and fansites chomping at the televisual bit over rumoured or confirmed revivals of Twin Peaks, Blake’s 7 and Prison Break – the latter with a classic back-from-the-dead main character, apparently – here’s 10 other shows that clawed their way off the shelf, for better or worse…
Sylvester McCoy was such an awful Willy Wonka of a Doctor that Doctor Who was cancelled in 1989 after 26 years due to falling viewing figures. When the show returned in 2005, of course, it blew all other sci-fi time travel weirdo-regeneration comedy-dramas out of the water and currently stands as the BBC’s most iconic cult hit.
During its initial run on Fox from 1999 to 2003, animated sci-fi comedy Futurama was considered the poor cousin of creator Matt Groening’s rather more successful “other show”, despite frequently being just as capable of taking your legs out from under you with a deft one-liner. Thankfully, after re-runs on Comedy Central and four direct-to-video films proved popular, the cable channel revived Futurama in 2008 for a successful second stint that lasted until 2013.
Once upon a time, Chris Evans was like Ant & Dec, Simon Cowell and ISIS all rolled into one – culturally powerful, rich, universally hated and all over the telly 24/7. Laddish madcap Britpop weekend-starter TFI Friday was his flagship show until it finished in 2000, an example of “Yoof TV” at its wackiest and the show that made a sweary Shaun Ryder the only person banned by name in the BBC guidelines on live broadcasts. But that didn’t stop people crying out for a 20th anniversary reboot this June after a hugely popular one-off return to Channel 4, sparking a new eight-part series due later this year.
Like Futurama, Seth MacFarlane’s controversial adult cartoon series Family Guy suffered from irregular broadcast slots during its first incarnation on Fox, pitted against Friends, Frasier and Who Wants To be A Millionaire?. Canned in 2002, it too became a huge late-night re-run hit when sold to the Cartoon Network for virtually nothing, and after shifting an impressive 2.2m DVDs as well, Fox snapped it up again in 2004.
Already the longest-running espionage drama in US TV history when its eighth and “final” season drew to a close in 2010, Kiefer Sutherland’s turn as Jack Bauer in real-time race-against-the-clock thriller 24 would get a 2014 reboot as 24: Live Another Day. They cheated with a 12-hour time jump at the end, though, presumably having exhausted the Red Bull budget by season eight.
As bizarre as it sounds today, Baywatch only lasted one season during its initial airing on NBC in 1989. But David Hasselhoff wouldn’t let his running-down-the-beach-in-slow-motion dreams die. He became executive producer, pushed the series back on the air and went on to bag viewing figures of 1 billion worldwide. Strangely, the popularity of a show consisting largely of busty women running around in swimwear only dropped off alongside the rise of the internet.
When NBC axed cult sitcom Community in May 2014 after five seasons, fans refused to accept that their favourite show was really over. Sure enough, Yahoo! Screen revived the series a month later – on the day the cast’s contracts were due to expire, no less – and a sixth season premiered on the streaming service earlier this year. Yahoo! has declined to release viewing figures for season six, but show runner Dan Harmon has revealed that when he was told how many people were tuning in online, his reaction was: “Holy shit! That’s what I always would’ve guessed, times two or three.”
Mitchell Hurwitz’s brilliant sitcom following Newport Beach’s awesomely dysfunctional Bluth family originally ran on Fox for three seasons between 2003 and 2006. Arrested Development‘s reputation only grew stronger after it was axed for delivering disappointing ratings, so when Netflix revived the show for a belated fourth season in 2013, it looked like a masterstroke. However, the new season received mixed reviews from TV critics and many fans objected to what creator Hurwitz described as the “anthology” format, whereby each episode revolved around a single member of the Bluth clan. Despite the lukewarm reaction to season four, Hurwitz is now working on a fifth season to launch on Netflix in 2016.
Fifteen To One
When William G Stewart presented the toughest quiz on TV (this was long before Only Connect) every weekday lunchtime from 1988 to 2003, the show often had more contestants than viewers. It took a one-off celebrity special hosted by Adam Hills in 2013 to rejuvenate the knock-out quiz, essentially an ancient Roman gladiatorial contest for overqualified Swindon tax consultants, which is now hosted daily by Sandy Toksvig.
Sunday Night At The Palladium
This iconic variety show, first hosted in 1955 by Tommy Trinder and later presented by Jimmy Tarbuck, Jim Dale, Bob Monkhouse and Bruce Forsyth (among many others) introduced Britain to Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, helping fuel the UK’s rock’n’roll conversion. Later, The Beatles’ publicist Tony Barrow claimed their appearance on the show in 1963 launched Beatlemania. It ran until 1974, and was revived with great fondness in 2014 with Jason Manford, Jimmy Carr and Bradley Walsh at the helm.