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Frasier is back in the building, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS


As Kelsey Grammer used to intone at the end of every episode: ‘Frasier has left the building!’ But now, the Seattle psychiatrist at the centre of television’s most successful spin-off is coming back.

The question is, in a world of reality contests and dreary panel games, will TV audiences still be smart enough to get the jokes?

Frasier was comedy with a PhD in psychiatry, a rapid-fire barrage of gags about Freudian psychology, classical music, fine dining, and literature. It wore its learning like a university professor’s gown and mortar board.

And both viewers and critics adored it. During its 11 seasons, between 1993 and 2004, Frasier won 37 Emmys, including five on the trot for best comedy series.

Famous five: From left, Martin (John Mahoney), Daphne (Jane Leeves), Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Niles (David Hyde Pierce), Roz (Peri Gilpin) and Eddie the dog. And now, the Seattle psychiatrist at the centre of television's most successful spin-off, Frasier, is coming back

Famous five: From left, Martin (John Mahoney), Daphne (Jane Leeves), Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Niles (David Hyde Pierce), Roz (Peri Gilpin) and Eddie the dog. And now, the Seattle psychiatrist at the centre of television’s most successful spin-off, Frasier, is coming back

Now its star has announced that the central character is to return, in a new show due to air next year on a start-up American streaming video service, Paramount+.

‘I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr Frasier Crane,’ announced Grammer, mimicking the orotund phraseology of his character.

He failed to say whether the show’s other stars, including David Hyde Pierce as his equally prissy brother Niles, and Jane Leeves as Niles’s earthy wife Daphne, would be involved, provoking horror among fans.

‘A Frasier reboot without David Hyde Pierce,’ remarked one wit on Twitter, ‘is like taking in a sumptuous meal at Le Cigare Volant and forgoing their exquisite apple and persimmon tarte tatin. It simply isn’t done.’

'I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr Frasier Crane,' announced Grammer, mimicking the orotund phraseology of his character. He failed to say whether the show's other stars, including David Hyde Pierce as his equally prissy brother Niles, and Jane Leeves as Niles's earthy wife Daphne (above, together), would be involved, provoking horror among fans

‘I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr Frasier Crane,’ announced Grammer, mimicking the orotund phraseology of his character. He failed to say whether the show’s other stars, including David Hyde Pierce as his equally prissy brother Niles, and Jane Leeves as Niles’s earthy wife Daphne (above, together), would be involved, provoking horror among fans

That captured the pomposity, the pretension and the desperate flaunting of intellect that drove the brothers to furious bouts of competition — the running joke of the show.

It ignored the fact, though, that Frasier was hilarious long before he landed a show of his own. In fact, it was the character’s emotional depth, under a veneer of ostentatious education, that inspired his sitcom. 

He tried to hide it, but Frasier was a very human mess, a mixture — as the theme song put it — of ‘tossed salads and scrambled eggs’.

Frasier was created by the writers of Cheers, the brilliant 1980s comedy about a cellar bar in Boston and its denizens. 

Dr Crane, a verbose psychiatrist and all-round egghead, took up his stool near the door, after the romance of bartender Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) hit the rocks.

Frasier was, briefly, Diane’s insufferable boyfriend. She ditched him at the altar and he went on to marry a fellow psychiatrist — Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), as humourless as she was coldly rational. Frasier’s mother nicknamed her ‘the icicle’.

When Cheers called last orders in 1993, makers Paramount were eager for a follow-up. Writers David Lee, David Angell and Peter Casey thought any attempt at a spin-off was bound to fail, because Cheers was inimitable.

During its 11 seasons, between 1993 and 2004, Frasier won 37 Emmys, including five on the trot for best comedy series

During its 11 seasons, between 1993 and 2004, Frasier won 37 Emmys, including five on the trot for best comedy series

So they cast Grammer as a media mogul, paralysed and wheelchair-bound in his Manhattan apartment, with a wise-cracking New York nurse as his carer. Paramount hated the idea. 

They wanted something that built on the affection millions had for Frasier. Then the writers met Hyde Pierce — five years younger than Grammer but with all his mannerisms and the same high, polished forehead.

Great sitcoms had always featured opposites. The irrepressible Lucille Ball and her short-tempered husband Desi Arnaz in I Love Lucy set the template at the start of the 1950s: opposites attract.

But in Grammer and Hyde Pierce, here were two actors so irresistibly similar, they had to be paired. It wasn’t their differences that made them funny, it was their identical faults and failings.

There had to be a counterweight, of course, a character as comically coarse as the brothers were refined. That was their father, Martin, a former police officer who regarded his sons as ‘disappointing sissies’.

To keep the original idea of a grumpy man stuck indoors, sparring with his carer, the writers made Martin (John Mahoney) an invalid. He spent most of every episode in his overstuffed recliner chair parked in front of the TV, in the middle of Frasier’s flat.

And what a chair. Held together with duct tape, the muddy green fabric clashed with every item of furniture. 

To keep the original idea of a grumpy man stuck indoors, sparring with his carer, the writers made Martin (John Mahoney, pictured) an invalid. He spent most of every episode in his overstuffed recliner chair parked in front of the TV, in the middle of Frasier's flat

To keep the original idea of a grumpy man stuck indoors, sparring with his carer, the writers made Martin (John Mahoney, pictured) an invalid. He spent most of every episode in his overstuffed recliner chair parked in front of the TV, in the middle of Frasier’s flat

To Martin, it was an old friend: he once told his son it was his closest link to his late wife, Frasier’s mother, because every night when he came off duty he would fall asleep in that chair and be gently shaken awake by her at bedtime.

To Frasier, the chair was the embodiment of all his frustrated ambitions. He wanted to be cultured, successful, the envy of his wealthy friends. But he could never escape his working-class roots, and all his affectations would not disguise that.

The chair suffered a catastrophic end. After oil spilled over the fabric, Frasier and Niles accidentally set it alight, then hurled the blazing wreckage from the balcony. It smashed onto the pavement, right before Martin’s disbelieving eyes.

Contrite, Frasier commissioned an exact, bespoke replica. It cost him more than any other piece of furniture in the apartment — even his baby grand piano.

The set designers spent nearly half a million dollars on Frasier’s palatial sitting room, on the Seattle skyline. He showed it off in the pilot episode: ‘The lamp by Corbu, this chair by Eames, and this couch is an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.’

In reality, the Eames chair was rented and the Coco Chanel sofa created with 24 yards of suede.

Frasier didn’t even mention his Pastoe curved sideboard, which alone cost the producers $3,200 (about £4,100 today).

That green monstrosity played a central role in other ways. In the opening episode, as Martin moved in with his son, his pride made him determined to manage without a carer. 

Then Daphne Moon turned up, a brash girl from Manchester who was convinced she possessed psychic powers.

Leeves (who started out as one of Hill's Angels, the buxom girls on The Benny Hill Show) won the part after a cast read-through that had everyone in hysterics. Her Mancunian accent never convinced British audiences, though — partly because she is a Londoner, and partly because her voice coach added American overtones after Paramount bosses feared U.S. viewers wouldn't understand her

Leeves (who started out as one of Hill’s Angels, the buxom girls on The Benny Hill Show) won the part after a cast read-through that had everyone in hysterics. Her Mancunian accent never convinced British audiences, though — partly because she is a Londoner, and partly because her voice coach added American overtones after Paramount bosses feared U.S. viewers wouldn’t understand her

She certainly read Martin’s mind. Parking herself in the recliner, she declared: ‘What a comfy chair! It’s like I always say, start with a good piece and replace the rest when you can afford it.’ Daphne was hired.

She nearly wasn’t ‘Daphne’, because Grammer didn’t want an Englishwoman. He preferred Hispanic actress Rosie Perez because he worried that a British co-star might make the show seem like a remake of the popular 1970s U.S. comedy Nanny And The Professor, which starred Juliet Mills.

Leeves (who started out as one of Hill’s Angels, the buxom girls on The Benny Hill Show) won the part after a cast read-through that had everyone in hysterics.

Her Mancunian accent never convinced British audiences, though — partly because she is a Londoner, and partly because her voice coach added American overtones after Paramount bosses feared U.S. viewers wouldn’t understand her.

Lisa Kudrow, who went on to star in Friends, was first choice for Roz Doyle, the loud-mouthed producer at the radio station where Frasier works as an agony uncle on a phone-in. But she was replaced by Peri Gilpin, who was more convincing in her shouting matches with the star.

Grammer has already confirmed that, when Frasier returns, it won’t be to that radio station and it won’t be to Seattle. That suggests Roz will no longer be a central character. 

Jane Leeves said yesterday that she hasn’t been asked to return either, and that she has no intention of abandoning her current hit, a medical series on Fox called The Resident.

Sadly, there will be no Martin Crane either. John Mahoney died in 2018 after four years of battling throat cancer.

The remake will also be without writer David Angell, who died aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the Twin Towers, in the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. 

It’s difficult to imagine Frasier without the tight-knit cast around him, partly because they were all clearly good friends in real life.

Jane Leeves said yesterday that she hasn't been asked to return, and that she has no intention of abandoning her current hit, a medical series on Fox called The Resident. Sadly, there will be no Martin Crane either. John Mahoney died in 2018 after four years of battling throat cancer

Jane Leeves said yesterday that she hasn’t been asked to return, and that she has no intention of abandoning her current hit, a medical series on Fox called The Resident. Sadly, there will be no Martin Crane either. John Mahoney died in 2018 after four years of battling throat cancer

Last year, the survivors reunited for an hour-long chat on Zoom, to raise money for The Actors Fund, helping performers whose income was hit by the pandemic.

But Grammer is bound to miss the character, having played him for 20 consecutive years. And the sitcom did end with Frasier leaving Seattle and his friends.

Talking to James Corden two years ago, Grammer admitted that he dreamed of reuniting the cast. ‘Same group of characters, but in a different setting,’ he said hopefully. ‘It could be in Chicago. Something has changed in their lives.

‘John Mahoney died, and we would probably deal with that a little bit, Dad being gone — but this would be the third act of Frasier, rather than trying to pick it up right where they were.

‘There seems to be,’ he added, ‘some appetite for it.’

You bet. I say, garcon, we’ll have some more of those tossed salads and scrambled eggs.

So where are the main characters of the show now?

JANE LEEVES 

Jane Leeves is married to US TV executive Marshall Coben

Jane Leeves is married to US TV executive Marshall Coben

Jane Leeves, 59, and Peri Gilpin, who plays Roz, are such close friends that Peri was reportedly present at the birth of Jane’s daughter, Isabella, in 2001. 

The pregnancy was concealed on TV with a storyline that Daphne was over-eating. 

Her husband is U.S. TV exec Marshall Coben — they were introduced by David Hyde Pierce. She is currently in U.S. medical drama The Resident. 

KELSEY GRAMMER

Kelsey Grammer is happily married to Brit Kayte Walsh - and has seven children

Kelsey Grammer is happily married to Brit Kayte Walsh – and has seven children

Kelsey Grammer, 66, struggled with fame and went into rehab for alcohol and drug addiction in 1996. 

His marriage to third wife Camille Donatacci lasted 14 years but is chiefly remembered for the embarrassing details she shared when she joined the cast of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. 

He is now happily married to Brit Kayte Walsh. He has seven children. 

DAVID HYDE PIERCE

David Hyde Pierce has since starred in Broadway hits including Spamalot and Hello Dolly!

David Hyde Pierce has since starred in Broadway hits including Spamalot and Hello Dolly!

David Hyde Pierce, 61, came out as gay in 2007 and married TV director Brian Hargrove, a year later. 

His distinctive voice has featured in animated movies such as A Bug’s Life, as well as The Simpsons, but it is on Broadway that he is happiest — winning a Tony as best leading actor for Curtains, in 2007, and starring in hits such as Spamalot and Hello, Dolly! 

PERI GILPIN

Peri has guested on several hit shows, including Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family, Men At Work and Masters Of Sex.

Peri has guested on several hit shows, including Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Men At Work and Masters Of Sex.

Peri Gilpin, 59, set up a production company with best friend Jane Leeves called Bristol Cities in the Noughties, and tried to relaunch The Vicar Of Dibley in the States. 

Peri has guested on several hit shows, including Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Men At Work and Masters Of Sex. 

She has suggested she’d be wary of a Frasier revival. 



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