The best and worst TV returns – from Dallas and Doctor Who to Melrose Place and Charlie’s Angels

We take a look at the television shows that have reappeared on our screens after time away, with varying degrees of success...

The thrills and spills of Texan life return to our screens tonight (9pm, Channel 5) as Dallas rises from the ashes more than two decades after leaving our screens.


It’s easy to see why bringing back a hugely successful series is tempting, but while some reboots, remakes and returns go on to be successes in their own right, others fail to stand on their own two feet…

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of television’s comeback kids…


Dallas first burst onto our screens in 1978 and the American soap opera soon captured our hearts. The drama followed wealthy Texas oil barons the Ewings. Known for its cliffhanger endings, Dallas’s dramatic storylines centred around sex, power and money. 

Original Dallas ran for 14 seasons before its final episode was aired in 1991. The final offering was, in typical Dallas fashion, an almighty cliffhanger, leaving viewers unsure as to whether J.R. had commited suicide. Though, alongside Sue Ellen and Bobby, J.R. is one of the original characters making a return in the new remake so that clears that up…

Dallas is making its comeback tonight on C5. Following the sons of J.R. and Bobby, played by Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe, the new glossy remake promises to be just as gripping as its predecessor – it’s already been renewed for a second series in the US so it’s doing a lot better than some attempts! 

Charlie’s Angels 

The original Charlie’s Angels premiered in 1976 and quickly became one of the most successful series of the 70s. Charlie’s Angels focused on three, glamorous mystery-solving women: Sabina, Jill and Kelly. They were ex-policewomen who, bored by the menial jobs they were given in their male-dominated workplace, quit to join the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. 

The 2011 remade TV series didn’t diverge far from the original premise although, instead of all being ex-policewomen, the Angels comprised of an ex-Miami cop, a street racer and a thief. This update wasn’t enough to snag viewers, though – thirteen episodes of the new show were made, but, due to extremely poor ratings and reviews from critics, only four were ever aired, confirming its place as one of the worst remakes ever. 


Beverly Hills: 90210 followed a group of wealthy teenagers as they navigated life at West Beverly High School. The show started with the arrival of twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh from Minnesota and followed them as they attempted to fit in to their classmates’ glamourous way of life. The show was an instant sensation and propelled many of its cast members into the lime light, but it wasn’t without controversy, famously tackling subjects such as gay rights, suicide, abortion, AIDS and eating disorders. After 10 years and 10 seasons, the show called it a day in 2000. 

Just eight years later, 90210 was re-commissioned, bringing back original stars Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty, Tori Spelling and Ann Gillespie. Just like its predecessor, 90210 started with the arrival of two newbies: Dixon and Annie Wilson, the children of the new principle of West Beverly High School. Since its first series, 90210’s characters have left West Beverly High behind, and all the cast members from the original series have been written out of the show. But this reboot is still going strong and will be returning to our screens for a fifth season next year.  

Upstairs Downstairs

ITV’s 1971 drama Upstairs Downstairs was set in a London townhouse, 165 Eaton Place, during Edwardian, First World War and interwar Britain. The programme focused on the dramas of the wealthy Bellamy family who lived “upstairs” and those who worked for them, and lived “downstairs.” It became something of a surprise success, running for five series before the final episode, which saw the last of the cast leaving the house, was aired in 1975. 

In 2010, BBC breathed life back into the house, producing a glammed-up version of the 70s series with original character Rose Buck, played by Jean Marsh. The new series, starring Keeley Hawes and Ed Stoppard, started where the previous version left off, in 1936, when a new family moved into the house.

Although the remake had good reviews for its first run, viewing figures dropped quickly in the second series – and there are no plans to make a third.

Doctor Who 

The Doctor, in his many different guises, has been travelling through time and space since 1963. Fighting aliens, saving planet Earth and taking his companions on adventures across the universe, the Time Lord was a staple on TV screens across Britain until the late 1980s. The last regular episode in 1989, titled Survival, saw the Seventh Doctor (Sylvestor McCoy) with his companion, Ace, return to the Tardis ready to set off on more adventures. 

Sixteen years later, in 2005, the Time Lord made an incredibly successful comeback. Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor and his companion Rose, played by Billie Piper, charmed the nation, giving Doctor Who a new and dedicated fan base. And our beloved time traveller is definitely here to stay – 6.38 million viewers tuned in last Saturday for the start of series seven and Doctor Who on its return has become one of the BBC’s biggest shows around the world.

Watch Dinosaurs on a Spaceship on Saturday 8 September at 7:35pm. 

Melrose Place 

The original Melrose Place was actually a spin-off from Beverly Hills: 90210. The show followed the dramas of a group of young adults living in an apartment complex in Los Angeles.

The show ran for an impressive seven seasons and during this time the cast changed considerably. Many (now famous) faces appeared on the show, including Marcia Cross, who later went on to play Bree in Desperate Housewives, and Kristin Davis, who played Charlotte in Sex and the City. 

Melrose Place’s 2009 remake failed to find the same success. It was met with poor reviews from critics and lower-than-expected ratings and was subsequently cancelled after its first season…


The new series of Dallas starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 5