The weirdest TV shows that got movie spin-offs

Ben Falk
Contributor

This week sees the release of the Downton Abbey movie. The ITV period drama was a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic, making it an obvious choice for a movie adaptation. We’ve also just learned that Catherine Tate’s Nan character is getting her own movie.

Sometimes you have to wonder though how some of these got green lit. Here are some of the most unlikely programmes to get the cinematic treatment.

The Bad Education Movie

BBC sitcom Bad Education was a pretty obvious candidate for a film adaptation following the success of fellow school-based comedy The Inbetweeners, but the Jack Whitehall comedy was a flop with critics, and remains largely forgotten.

Are You Being Served?

Arriving in 1977, five years after the broad shop-based sitcom debuted, this is just plain bizarre.

The staff go on holiday together (do many offices do that?) to Costa Plonka (yep!) while Grace Bros. is undergoing renovations.

Read more: Behind the scenes of Downton Abbey

It was actually adapted from a stage version of the series which played to ecstatic audiences in Blackpool in 1976. It also features Andrew Sachs – aka Manuel in Fawlty Towers – playing a different Spanish character.

Love Thy Neighbour

Renowned as one of the most racist shows ever broadcast, this movie based on the series about a white couple living next door to a black one was the 15th most successful film at the UK box office when it was released in 1973.

Contrary scholars may try and argue this is a scathing attack on the casual bigotry of the time…they’re wrong. It’s just icky.

The Crocodile Hunter

The late, great Steve Irwin was a brilliant nature host, getting up close and personal with deadly spiders and the titular reptiles.

But a movie star? 2002’s The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course saw the presenter mistakenly take on the CIA with wife Terri and was a self-aware romp reliant on Irwin’s on-screen magnetism.

Its biggest achievement? A Kids’ Choice Award nomination for ‘Best Fart in a Movie’.

Top Cat

Top Cat was an American Hanna-Barbera cartoon for which they made 30 episodes between 1961 and 1962.

Top Cat: The Movie is a 2011 3D Mexican-Argentine co-production that became one of the biggest box office openings of all-time in Mexico, under the moniker ‘Don Gato Y Su Pandilla’.

Read more: Three Carry On films to shoot back-to-back

We’re still trying to process that information.

Rising Damp

Set in a cruddy boarding house in Yorkshire, the series had been off the air for two years when the film version emerged in 1980. What’s more, one of its stars, Richard Beckinsale (father of Kate), had died the year previously.

Still, that didn’t stop them putting Rigsby (Leonard Rossiter) on the big screen and the result was one of general apathy.

Is that really surprising for a show revolving around the farcical romantic shenanigans of some tenants and their skeevy landlord?

Car 54, Where Are You?

The show about a pair of patrol cop partners ran for two series at the beginning of the 60s and was remembered by few. The film was made in 1990 and co-starred Rosie O’Donnell. Even more weirdly, it wasn’t released until 1994 after the production company went bust.

No-one can confirm if this was the movie that tipped them over the edge.

George and Mildred

What’s remarkable about this is it’s practically unfathomable these days that there’d be a movie about the lives of a middle-aged, domestic couple. At least one that didn’t involve huge amounts of incest or them being secret drug dealers.

In fact, such was its commercial failure that this 1980 pic is often considered the flick which killed the trend for turning British sitcoms into films.

Dirty Sanchez

This Jackass rip-off somehow managed to secure a cinematic berth, despite featuring a cast even less appealing than all the ones in Jackass who aren’t Johnny Knoxville.

Read more: Child stars with surprising careers

In 2006, Welshmen Pritchard, Dainton and co. went around the world trying to carry out the seven deadly sins. The result was drinking liposuction fat and lots of things revolved around injuring each other’s nads.

Idiocy 1, the world 0.

On The Buses

This ITV comedy ran from 1969 until 1973 and featured a bus driver and his pervy conductor trying to get off with girls despite the constant nuisance of their officious boss Blakey (who probably ended up saving the bus company millions in sexual harassment claims).

It actually spawned three movies – On The Buses, Mutiny on the Buses and Holiday on the Buses – the first of which was Britain’s biggest-grossing film of 1971.

Bizarrely, despite featuring all the same actors and characters, it was set in a slightly alternate universe to the telly show, which seems pointlessly confusing.