My 2018 DVD wishes

z cars.jpg

Inspired by a post over at LouReviews, I’ve been having a ponder about which unreleased television series I’d like to see pop up on shiny discs. And this is what I’ve come up with ….

Z Cars

Acorn, before they sadly stopped releasing archive titles, did issue a selection of early seventies episodes – but the original run from the sixties (Barlow, Watt, Fancy Smith, et al.) remains out of circulation. Given how ground-breaking the series was, it’s difficult to understand why Z Cars remains so under-represented on DVD. A few have been repeated over the years, a few more are available on YT, but most of the surviving episodes are simply gathering dust.

Blood Money/Skorpion/Cold Warrior

Possibly I’m the only person hoping these three series (all starring Michael Denison as SIS agent Captain Aubrey Percival) eventually resurface, but it’d be nice to think that there’s a few other people out there who’d also buy it! If you didn’t know they were produced by Gerard Glaister, then a glance at the cast lists (Juliet-Hammond Hill, Stephen Yardley, Bernard Hepton, etc, etc) might give you a clue. Simon May penned the title themes, which is another pointer ….

The Secret Servant

A three-part adaptation of Gavin Lyall’s novel, featuring Charles Dance as Harry Maxim, The Secret Servant was originally broadcast in 1984, repeated in 1987 and then vanished. Adapted by Brian Clemens, my memory of the 1987 repeat is that it was a more than decent spy thriller with a muscular turn from Dance.

Pulaski

Another of those series which has dropped off the radar somewhat (only thin pickings on YT, alas) Roy Clarke’s 1987 series starring David Andrews as Larry Summers (who plays the wisecracking PI Pulaski) should be worth a release. Co-starring Caroline Langrishe, it might not have set the schedules alight back then but I’ve a feeling that it’s probably aged quite well. Ace theme by the Shadows as well.

Blankety Blank

No really! I’ve previously praised the series here and those comments still stand. It’s just great fun, packed – especially in the early years – with some top guests and is high on rewatch value.

Spycatcher

I’m not sure how many episodes of this WW2 psychological series, starring Bernard Archard as Lt. Col. Oreste Pinto, exist but one featured in the BBC Archive Trial a few years back, so hopefully there’s enough remaining to make up a decent set. The episodes were re-recorded for radio (these versions remain easily accessible) and whilst the visuals might not add a great deal, it would be nice to see some of these stories in vision.

Moonstrike

Another Gerard Glaister series. Despite its science fiction name Moonstrike was set during WW2. Glaister, of course, would later mine this era very successfully in both Colditz and Secret Army, so it would be fascinating to see how this series (broadcast in 1963) compares.

Of course this only scratches the surface – restored versions of At Last The 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set would also be high on my wants list as would the black and white Dixon of Dock Green‘s. The BBC work of Les Dawson, Mike Yarwood and (provided the rights can be negotiated) Dave Allen would also be welcome.

That’s one of the problems with wish-lists of course, once you start it’s difficult to stop …

12 thoughts on “My 2018 DVD wishes

  1. Another one which has occurred to me – and as it is Channel 4, it’s possible – is Centrepoint from 1990. I had forgotten about it but on searching for something else today, saw it mentioned. I don’t believe it has ever been repeated.

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  2. Dick Fiddy once told me that he was a consultant on a 4 disc Z Cars collection (including extras) that got abandoned late in the process… We got so close!

    If all of Doctor Finlay can get released, Z Cars would be the most obviously-viable 1960s BBC project for Simply to attempt next, I would think.

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    • Interesting! I never knew that that plans had been made for a Z Cars release. It would be lovely to have all the episodes released, but given the number, possibly a curated release might be the best way to go.

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  3. Thanks for reminding me about Moonstrike. I remember watching this in the 60’s. That is one I would definitely buy if it was released on DVD. You should tell your friends at Simply that there is a market for this one! Although I read that only 7 of the 27 episodes still survive.

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  4. Of course, what I’d really want from Simply would just be more ‘Softly Softly: Task Force’ and – more than anything else, actually – Series 3 and 4 of ‘Angels’. I’ve been watching some blurry off-air recordings of edited 1990s UK Gold repeats of them recently, and even in that impaired form they’re still compelling and inspiring viewing. There really never was a bad episode – every one has a proper intelligent dialectic about the value of care, achieved without shock tactics or sentimentality.

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    • Yes, more SS:TF would be more than welcome. I’m now at the point where I’m thinking about ordering the German DVDs – they may only offer a sample of the later seasons, but that would he better than nothing.

      I haven’t got around to watching Simply’s Angels releases yet, so I really should give them a spin soon. The capsule reviews of some of the episodes you posted a while back at Roobarbs made them sound very intriguing.

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  5. You definitely won’t regret getting the Pidax Softly Softly collections, although it can be a bit frustrating seeing what the Germans have left off them! Couldn’t you have included that three part Alan Plater story, etc., etc.

    For what very little its worth, the Mark I version of ‘Angels’ is just about my favourite popular long-running BBC drama series. I really can’t recommend it too highly. As well as all of the virtues of in-house BBC production at its height, it also has extremely perceptive character studies of its regulars, a confidence in the viewer being able to register subtle changes and inferences, and a rare concentration upon women’s professional experiences – mostly written by women – that you realise that you’ve only infrequently seen elsewhere.

    The most recent Simply catalogue ominously had them, cheaper than ever before, on the ‘Last chance to buy’ page, so I’d get in quick!

    I put a revised version of those reviews up here – https://forgottentelevisiondrama.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/angels-series-2-bbc1-1976-viewing-notes/

    and there’s a bit about the scripting process at the end of this long article – https://forgottentelevisiondrama.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/pat-hooker-writing-for-television-in-the-1970s/

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    • I thought I had both S1 & S2 of Angels, but it seems that I only have S2 so I’ve nipped in an order for the first series, just in case its days are numbered …

      Along with Network’s releases of Emergency Ward 10 and the single volume of General Hospital (another series there should have been more releases of) that’ll be a hefty chunk of hospital drama viewing to work through.

      Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out as I make my way through the series.

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