The news that Dempsey & Makepeace will shortly be returning to ITV4 has reignited the conversation about the series and cuts. Since it’ll be running in a daytime slot there’s no doubt that the shows will be fairly heavily edited for violence.
Usually this wouldn’t be a problem as you’d be able to watch the series uncut on DVD. But sadly the Network releases are badly flawed – they seem to comprise cut prints assembled for daytime screenings on Granada Plus.
Not every episode is edited, but around 60 – 70% of the series is affected to a greater or lesser degree. A decade or so ago it seemed that Portugal were selling virtually uncut DVDs, but those are now long out of print.
The only foreign import I can currently see is this Season 1 release, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the running times of both to work out which offers the best value.
The import splits the pilot into a two-parter and runs for nearly three extra minutes (some of this may be down to the additional credit sequences though). Given to Acts of Violence is the other episode which is longer on the import – over a minute, compared to the Network DVD.
The other episodes are either the same, or the Network release is slightly longer (although this may be down to Network leaving “dead air” after the episode has finished – something that happened on a fair few of their releases).
So whilst the import DVD looks to be slightly less cut, it still seems not to be quite the whole picture (I find it difficult to believe that Make Peace Not War would have clocked in at under forty five minutes. For an hour long slot in the mid eighties that seems remarkably skimpy).
What’s certain is that the series is crying out for a restored BD release. The masters exist (or at least they did a decade ago) at LWT, but as The Sweeney BDs stalled after series one, I think it’s more than likely that we’ll have to soldier on with what we’ve got …