A gym renovation four weeks ahead of schedule: the entire cast of The Brittas Empire – what could possibly go wrong?
If you arrived at Ringwood Leisure Centre half an hour before the cast, you may have thought you were in an episode of the legendary 90s’ sitcom. There were wires dangling out of the ceiling, corridors in darkness and people in reflective jackets working manically while a boiler-suited manager calmly carried out interviews as if nothing was amiss.
It brought memories flooding back of the iconic BBC sitcom focussed around a leisure centre manager who despite all his good intentions managed to create mayhem.
The Brittas Empire was filmed at Ringwood Leisure Centre and in a flash of inspiration, someone suggested that actor Chris Barrie (Gordon Brittas) should be invited to open the new gym, which has doubled in size, as has the spinning studio.
Manager Rob Mangles said, “We went to the Brittas members’ group. They told us it was 20 years since filming and eight members of the cast wanted to come as well as the writers.”
On the day, the whole cast arrived with co-writers Richard Fegen and Andrew Norriss and the warmth and friendship throughout the centre was tangible.
To the fans’ delight Chris Barrie and Harriet Thorpe, who played Carole the receptionist, went straight into character and spontaneously acted a skit behind the counter.
Meanwhile it was a bean-feast for autograph hunters from all over the country who were rewarded with signatures and smiles.
As for a widely-rumoured comeback, writer Richard Fegen told mags4dorset that he’d written a script, “and gone the whole nine yards.”
When it came to cutting the ribbon to officially open the gym, Chris Barrie said, “It’s great to be back, it’s great to be part of the rebranding of Ringwood Leisure Centre that we knew of course as Whitbury.”
Rob Mangles added, “It was supposed to have been 14 weeks delivery, we have done this in 10. It has been a great, great local business project seen all the way through without mishaps Brittas-style, as Mr Brittas would say, ‘It’s been an Eeeeeexcellent project.’”
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