The Strange World of Gurney Slade to be released on BD – 30th November 2020

Network have just announced a BD release of The Strange World of Gurney Slade on the 30th of November, with some mouth-watering special features. The press release is below.

On 22nd October 1960 renowned singer and actor Anthony Newley crashed through the fourth wall in his weird and wonderful ATV television series The Strange World of Gurney Slade. To celebrate its 60th birthday all six episodes have been restored in HD from the original 35mm film elements and are now, sixty years to the day since their debut, available to pre-order on a Limited Edition Blu-ray packed full of rare special features exclusively from networkonair.com – this includes streaming of all six episodes via watch.networkonair.com.

This brilliantly inventive and startlingly surreal comedy was unlike anything previously seen on television. Audiences were flabbergasted to see this star on the rise in such an experimental series that deconstructed the fledgling sitcom genre and provided a platform for Newley’s unique stream of consciousness. It was ultimately dropped from its primetime slot after two episodes but not before it managed to take hold in the minds of fans, not least a young David Bowie who’s own breaking of the fourth wall and surreal characters took notes from his fascination and imitation with Anthony Newley and the bizarre Gurney Slade.

Carrying on from where radio’s The Goon Show left off in 1960, Gurney Slade’s influence on comedy was to be felt across the decades that followed – in the late Sixties and Seventies with the surreal sketches of Monty Python ‘s Flying Circus and Marty to the present day Peep Show. The Strange World of Gurney Slade is to television comedy what The Prisoner has since become to television drama – both firmly of its time and spectacularly ahead of it.

The series saw Anthony Newley star as an actor who walks off the set of a banal sit-com and into a fantasy world of his own imagination in a dreamlike odyssey through one man’s personal alternative reality. Talking to dogs, rocks and fairies and dancing with vacuum cleaners it is an unpredictable, absurdist fantasy created by Newley and written by comedy legends Sid Green and Dick Hills (soon thereafter to become key writers for Morecambe and Wise). The series features British stalwarts including Una Stubbs, Anneke Wills, Geoffrey Palmer and Bernie Winters.

This Limited-Edition Blu-ray is brimming with special features including three rare Saturday Spectacular shows from 1960 which acted as a testing ground for Gurney Slade’s internal monologue and feature Shirley Bassey, Peter Sellers, Lionel Blair and more. Also included is a commemorative booklet with contributions from Andrew Pixley, Dick Fiddy and Andrew Roberts and Anthony Newley’s 1963 beat influenced British crime feature film The Small World of Sammy Lee from writer/director Ken Hughes. Released on 30th November it is now available to pre-order exclusively from networkonair.com and includes streaming of the series’ six episodes via watch.networkonair.com – Network’s new streaming platform launched this July.

“Well, it was a noble effort, wasn’t it? You tried. I give you that, you tried. But the public is no man’s fool, you know. The public knows what it wants, and you had no right to even try and suggest something different. Anyway, the public doesn’t like anything… suggestive.”  – Gurney Slade #GurneySlade60

Special Features:

Three Saturday Spectacular shows from 1960 featuring Anthony Newley alongside Shirley Bassey, Peter Sellers, Janette Scott, Lionel Blair and others. These variety specials feature Newley’s initial attempts at building the “internal monologue character” that would eventually become Gurney Slade.

Original Gurney Slade promotional shorts.

Extensive image galleries.

The Small World of Sammy Lee: The classic 1963 British crime film starring Anthony Newley

The Small World of Sammy Lee special features: newly discovered archive film material featuring an alternative ending, textless titles and a promotional interview with Anthony Newley

Commemorative booklet with contributions from Andrew Pixley, Dick Fiddy and Andrew Roberts

Free streaming of the series’ six episodes from today only when you buy the limited-edition Blu-ray set

Grange Hill – Series Nine and Ten to be released on DVD by Eureka Entertainment (19/10/20)

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The 19th of October will see Eureka Entertainment releasing series nine and ten of Grange Hill on DVD. There’s plenty to chew over during these two series – from Zammo’s heroin addiction to Harriet the Donkey. I’ve written about series nine here and series ten here, As the release date gets a little closer hopefully I’ll be able to revisit this era of the programme both here on the blog and over on my Twitter feed.

Below is an extract from the press release.

Series 9

New pupils Eric ‘Ziggy’ Greaves, Danny Kendall, Georgina Hayes & Ant Jones are amongst the fresh faces piling through the Grange Hill gates & Zammo makes some bad decisions when he should ‘Just Say No’.  Zammo’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic & It’s Roland who eventually discovers the shocking truth. The thorny subject of smoking is tackled with new student Danny Kendall taking every opportunity for a crafty cigarette. This leads pupils to set up an anti-smoking campaign, which also targets the teachers!!  In other news the ever entrepreneurial Gonch serves up his latest money-making scheme, anyone for a slice of toast?

Series 10

Imelda Davis continues her campaign of carnage & bullying, creating difficulties for pupils & teachers alike. It’s a tough year for Danny Kendall as he battles Cancer. Roland starts up a School Fund to help pay for his treatment.   A sixth form barge trip is certainly eventful as Gonch, Ziggy, Rob & Trevor first manage to crash the boat, then send it floating off on its own with stowaway (& former Grange Hill pupil) Ant Jones inside. The school gets its own Radio station, Zammo & Jackie get Engaged; & what will happen to Harriett the Donkey…?

DVD EXTRA Feature: 1985 Christmas Special Episode (First aired 27th December 1985)

The School Christmas Fayre preparations are underway. Roland faces Christmas alone & Calley can’t decide which of her parents to spend the festive season with.

At the Fayre Zammo & Banksie’s “shaky hand” machine proves popular, as does the wet sponge stall (especially with Mr Baxter as the target!!). Gonch & Hollo unwittingly unleash pandemonium when they unlock a storeroom & a Donkey runs out. Merry Christmas everyone!!

 DVD Boxed Set Details

  • Release date 19th October 2020
  • BBFC : 12
  • RRP: £34.99
  • Series 9 x 4 Discs
  • Series 10 x 4 Discs
  • Series 9 -24 Episodes
  • Series 10 – 24 Episodes
  • Running time Series 9: – 579.41
  • Running time Series 10: – 576.47
  • Christmas Special: 29.10 (TX 27/12/85)
  • Series 9 & 10 Broadcast 1st April 1986/6th January 1987
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

 

Grange Hill Series Seven and Eight coming to DVD from Eureka DVD in November 2019

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It’s good to see that, a year following the release of series five and six, the next two series of Grange Hill are slated for release this November.  And if the front cover is to be believed then this DVD will also include the 1981 Christmas Special (which was left off the previous DVD).

Given its school disco setting, it was assumed that music clearances had scuppered its release – so possibly the clearances have now been sorted or there may be trims/music substitutions. Time will tell.

As for series seven and eight, it’ll be good to retire my old off-airs and revisit these two years.  For me, series seven has always felt like it was treading water somewhat – by this point GH would have benefited from the introduction of some fresh blood (although we’d have to wait until the following year for a new crop of first years).

Gripper (apart from a brief cameo) is missed.  At least they didn’t attempt to replicate his character and Jimmy McClaren (Gary Love) is fitfully amusing from time to time (although his villainy does seem quite restrained compared to Gripper’s rampaging).  Possibly the most interesting thing about Jimmy’s inclusion in the series is that it enables Roland to make the switch from victim to bully.

Jeremy Irvine’s swimming pool demise (Grange Hill‘s second pupil fatality) is the clear dramatic highpoint whilst there’s a generous (three episodes) amount of time set outside the school. Two episodes focus on the mock UN summit hosted by David Bellamy (they also feature a young Gina Bellman) whilst the third centres around the odd couple of Mr Baxter and Roland, who find themselves in trouble during an orientating weekend.

If series seven felt at times like an inferior companion to series six, then series eight initiated a major shake-up.  Most of the fifth-formers failed to make it to the sixth form – only Stewpot, Claire and Precious survived.  Indeed, had it not been for the plotline of Stewpot’s infatuation with Annette (a bizarre twist – Claire might have been a bit of a moaner, but surely she was preferable to Annette) then they would have nothing at all to do ….

The new crop of first-years – Gonch, Hollo, Trevor, Calley, Ronnie – fell into familiar patterns. Gonch was simply another Pogo (always with his eye on the next money-making scheme) whilst Calley and Ronnie are this years Trisha/Cathy or Annette/Fay.

There’s conflict amongst the fourth-years, as the remnants of Rodney Bennett and Brookdale found themselves rubbing shoulders with the old GH hands (although I’ve never quite understood how three schools worth of pupils could fit into two school buildings).

By far the most significant new arrival is, of course, Mr Bronson (“You boy!”). For many he defines Grange Hill, although his era (series eight – twelve, 1985 to 1989) saw some peaks and troughs for the show (series ten in 1987 was a bit of a nadir for 1980’s GH as the running thread of Harriet the Donkey was stretched to breaking point).

For those who want more episode by episode information, posts on series seven can be found here whilst my thoughts on series eight are here.

Do Not Adjust Your Set to be released by the BFI (16th September 2019)

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Also released by the BFI on the same day as At Last The 1948 Show is Do Not Adjust Your Set, which looks to be equally as essential. The press release is below –

Do Not Adjust Your Set
Collector’s Edition

3-DVD set released on 16 September 2019

Do Not Adjust Your Set, a madcap sketch show with a cult following, was a huge influence on television comedy. Written by and starring Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle, with performances and additional material by David Jason and Denise Coffey, it also provided a showcase for Terry Gilliam’s animations and the musical antics of art-school jazz-anarchists The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

This collection brings together all the existing shows from the Rediffusion and Thames series for the first time. Among the five episodes entirely new to DVD, two were previously thought lost entirely. The research, reconstruction and restoration involved in creating this 3-DVD set and its companion, At Last The 1948 Show, both released on 16 September 2019, is the biggest TV project ever undertaken by the BFI National Archive. Both represent huge cross BFI projects with extensive work done by the Video Publishing and Technical departments, to ensure the best releases possible.

Do Not Adjust Your Set will be launched during a month-long season at BFI Southbank, It’s… Monty Python at 50, running 1 September – 1 October 2019, celebrating Monty Python – their roots, influences and subsequent work both as a group, and as individuals. The season forms part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the beloved comedy group, whose seminal series Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on 5 October 1969. It will include all the Monty Python feature films; oddities and unseen curios from the depths of the BFI National Archive and from Michael Palin’s personal collection of super 8mm films; back-to-back screenings of the entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a unique big-screen outing; and screenings of post-Python TV (Fawlty Towers, Out of the Trees, Ripping Yarns) and films (Jabberwocky, A Fish Called Wanda, Time Bandits, Wind in the Willows and more). There will be a free exhibition of Python-related material from the BFI National Archive and The Monty Python Archive, and a Python takeover in the BFI Shop.

On Sunday 8 September at 17:40 in NFT1, there will be a special screening of two episodes of Do Not Adjust Your Set (one newly recovered). After the screening, a fully illustrated panel discussion will look back at the series and assess its importance within the Monty Python canon.

Special features
• Putting Strange Things Together (2019, 33 mins); Michael Palin recalls his early TV days, including Do Not Adjust Your Set;
• We Just Want You to Invent the Show (2019, 34 mins): Humphrey Barclay on his comedy career from Footlights to Rediffusion;
• The Uninvited Guest Star (2019, 5 mins): Tim Brooke-Taylor on his Do Not Adjust Your Set appearance;
• The Funniest Thing on English Television (2019, 7 mins): John Cleese reflects on the show’s impact;
• Bonzos on the Box (2019, 60 mins): new feature-length documentary on The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band featuring Neil Innes, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin-Spear and ‘Legs’ Larry Smith;
• The Doo-Dah Discotheque (2019): a Bonzo video jukebox;
• The Intro and the Outro (2018, 2 mins): a newly filmed introduction by Neil Innes;
• The Christmas Card (1968, 3 mins); Beware of the Elephants (1968, 3 mins); Learning to Live With an Elephant (1968, 4 mins): animations by Terry Gilliam, newly scanned from his own 35mm film masters;
• Lost Listens (1969, audio): rare sound-only excerpts from missing Thames episodes;
• Do Not Adjust Your Scripts: reproductions of scripts from missing Rediffusion episodes;
• The Humphrey Barclay Scrapbook: photos, cuttings and drawings from the legendary producer’s personal archive;
• Illustrated booklet with an introduction by Michael Palin, an exclusive interview with David Jason, new contributions from Humphrey Barclay, Neil Innes, ‘Legs’ Larry Smith and Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry, plus essay and episode guide by the BFI’s Vic Pratt, comedy context by the BFI’s Dick Fiddy and musical notes by The Doo-Dah Diaries’ David Christie.

Product details
RRP: £29.99/ Cat. no. BFIV2120/ Cert PG
UK / 1967-1969 / black and white / 361 mins / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles / original aspect ratio 4:3 / DVD9 x 3: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio (192kbps)

At Last The 1948 Show to be released by the BFI (16th September 2019)

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A three-DVD deluxe set of At Last The 1948 Show is due to be released by the BFI on 16/9/18. The press release, detailing the mouth-watering collection of extras, is reproduced below.

At Last The 1948 Show
Collector’s Edition

3-DVD set released on 16 September 2019

At Last The 1948 Show debuted in 1967: the silly, cerebral team effort of future Pythons John Cleese and Graham Chapman, Goodie-to-be Tim Brooke-Taylor and the marvellously fizzogged Marty Feldman. With laconic links by The Lovely Aimi MacDonald and set-pieces including the debut of the landmark ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch, this pioneering comedy series is now ready to be enjoyed by a new generation of fans (or by old ones all over again). The research, reconstruction and restoration involved in creating this 3-DVD set and its companion, Do Not Adjust Your Set, both released on 16 September 2019, is the biggest TV project ever undertaken by the BFI National Archive.

Initially beginning work six years ago, a team of the BFI’s specialist TV curators gathered every episode known to exist. Further down the line, the Video Publishing and Technical Delivery teams work tirelessly to reconstruct missing episodes, using audio recordings and shooting scripts, to create the most complete collection ever assembled of this series.

This Collector’s Edition includes all 10 surviving shows, plus two near-complete reconstructions and a partially complete episode with full-length audio: all presented with an array of archive gems and newly filmed extras. The accompanying booklet includes an essay by curator Steve Bryant detailing the research and technical work that was carried out.

At Last The 1948 Show will be launched during a month-long season at BFI Southbank, It’s… Monty Python at 50, running 1 September – 1 October 2019, celebrating Monty Python – their roots, influences and subsequent work both as a group, and as individuals. The season forms part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the beloved comedy group, whose seminal series Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on 5 October 1969. It will include all the Monty Python feature films; oddities and unseen curios from the depths of the BFI National Archive and from Michael Palin’s personal collection of super 8mm films; back-to-back screenings of the entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a unique big-screen outing; and screenings of post-Python TV (Fawlty Towers, Out of the Trees, Ripping Yarns) and films (Jabberwocky, A Fish Called Wanda, Time Bandits, Wind in the Willows and more). There will be a free exhibition of Python-related material from the BFI National Archive and The Monty Python Archive, and a Python takeover in the BFI Shop.

On Sunday 8 September at 15:00 in NFT1, there will be a special screening of At Last The 1948 Show (two recovered editions from the series plus an exclusive preview of some of the extra material from this DVD release) followed by a Q&A with Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Special features
• Something About the Year 1948 (2019, 31 mins): John Cleese on working with Humphrey Barclay, David Frost and Graham Chapman, At Last The 1948 Show and the path to Python;
• We Just Wanted to Be Silly (2019, 38 mins): Tim Brooke-Taylor recalls his comedy influences and the making of At Last The 1948 Show;
• John Cleese in Conversation (2006, 36 mins): John Cleese joins comedy historian Dick Fiddy at BFI Southbank to reflect on At Last The 1948 Show;
• Reconstructing At Last The 1948 Show (2000, 44 mins, audio): the BFI’s Steve Bryant in discussion with Aimi MacDonald, Tim Brooke-Taylor and audiophile Ray Frensham;
• John Cleese Introduces At Last The 1948 Show (2003, 2 mins): an introduction recorded for the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped event;
• At Last It’s Dee Time (1967, 12 mins audio): the At Last The 1948 Show team’s unruly guest appearance on the BBC chat show;
• Now and Then: Marty Feldman (1968, 25 mins): Feldman discusses the nature of comedy in this unedited interview, shot for a never-broadcast Bernard Braden documentary series;
• The Humphrey Barclay Scrapbook: rare photos and drawings from the legendary TV producer’s personal archive;
• At Last Some Pictures: image gallery of promotional material;
• Reproductions of two scripts for the incomplete episodes;
• Illustrated booklet with Not Quite 500 Words by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Steve Bryant’s account of recovering and restoring the programmes and a look at the show’s place in comedy history by the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, plus episode notes with transmission dates and credits.

Product details
RRP: £29.99/ Cat. no. BFIV2121/ Cert 12
UK / 1967-1968 / black and white / 320 mins / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles / original aspect ratio 4:3 / DVD9 x 3: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio (192kbps)

Three films from the Play For Today series to be released by Simply Media on the 1st of October 2018

Simply Media will be releasing Our Day Out, The Imitation Game and The Fishing Party on the 1st of October 2018. Below are details on all three, taken from Simply’s press release.

Our Day Out

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An anarchic, bittersweet comedy drama from Oscar-nominee Willy Russell, creator of Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine. Rated 8.2 on IMDB. Directed by BAFTA-winner Pedr James (Our Friends in the North) and produced by David Rose (Z Cars).

A hilarious and chaotic romp about a group of inner-city Liverpool schoolchildren let off the leash for a day’s outing. Different teaching approaches clash when the compassionate Mrs Kay (Jean Heywood – Billy Elliot) and disciplinarian Mr Briggs (Alun Armstrong – Krull) attempt to supervise.

Stopping at a cafe, a zoo, the beach and a funfair, the children take every opportunity to cause havoc. This tender comedy draws on Willy Russell’s own experiences of school trips as both pupil and teacher.

Originally broadcast in 1977, it was later adapted as a stage musical and still features today as a popular school text.

What the Press Said:

“I laughed out loud a great deal, and secretly wept a little.” The Sunday Times

“A gloriously funny and touching play.” Guardian

The Imitation Game

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Bestselling writer Ian McEwan (The Children Act) wrote this impassioned drama, inspired by stories of women who helped to crack the Enigma Code during WWII.

Rated 7.8 on IMDB and first shown in 1980. Directed and produced by BAFTA-nominee Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal).

Starring Harriet Walter (Sense and Sensibility / The Sense of an Ending) in her first major screen role alongside Oscar-nominee Brenda Blethyn (Vera) and BAFTA-nominee Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances).

19-year-old Cathy Raine (Harriet Walter) lives in 1940’s Frinton on Sea, expected to spend the war working at the local munitions factory. Against the wishes of her family she signs up for the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

There she befriends working-class Mary (Brenda Blethyn) and moves to the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park where Cathy meets Turing-like mathematics don John Turner (Nicholas Le Provost). But Cathy is being kept in the dark by the secretive male hierarchy – until she stumbles upon a secret intelligence file that may jeopardise her safety.

What the Press Said:

“A Play for Today of rare distinction” Clive James

The Fishing Party

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Crown Court creator Peter Terson’s comedy of class and manners. Rated 8.9 on IMDB, and first shown in 1972. Directed by BAFTA-winner Michael Simpson (Prince Regent).

Derbyshire miners Art (Brian Glover), Ern (Ray Mort) and Abe (Douglas Livingstone) head north to Whitby for a boys-only fishing escape.

Checking into a shabby B&B run by haughty landlady Audrey (Jane Freeman – Last of the Summer Wine) and her henpecked hubby, the trio are bamboozled into paying a high price for their rooms.

Their boat is piloted by a stern ex-fisherman, who warns them about mixing chips and brown ale on choppy waters. The boys are half-cut before they leave the harbour, and as they head out to sea they’re decidedly off-colour.

What the Press Said:

“A joyous comedy… overflowing with brilliant observation and wonderfully circular dialogue.” TV Cream

All three DVDs have a RRP of £12.99, Our Day Out runs for seventy minutes, The Imitation Game for ninety two minutes and The Fishing Party for fifty seven minutes.

Olivier Twist/Bleak House/Barnaby Rudge to be released by Simply Media – 21st August 2017

Due on the 21st of August from Simply Media are another three classic Charles Dickens adaptations from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Press release  –

Simply Media are delighted to announce the DVD release of three BBC Charles Dickens classic drama adaptations on 21st August 2017: Oliver Twist (1962), Bleak House (1959) and Barnaby Rudge (1960).

These rare and highly sought-after original BBC drama series are presented in their stunning black and white original form, and are all fondly remembered for their great production value and the fantastic acting talent in each production.

These will form a part of Simply Media’s Charles Dickens Classics Collection, with three other Charles Dickens classics already available on DVD from Simply Media: Dombey and Son (1969), Great Expectations (1967) and Our Mutual Friend (1958).

 

Oliver Twist (1962)

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The first ever BBC television adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist. Adapted by Writers’ Guild of Great Britain award winner Constance Cox (The Forsyte Saga), who specialised in creating great adaptations of classic literature for screen, and featuring an atmospheric soundtrack composed by BAFTA-nominee Ron Grainer (Doctor Who).

This uncompromising adaptation of Dickens’ tale of a gang of orphan boys turned to crime changed the face of British Sunday teatime viewing. Cox’s unvarnished depiction of despair and depravity in the back alleys of 19th century London, and the cruel divide between rich and poor, shattered expectations of cosy family drama. But this is Oliver as Dickens intended, without the enforced jollity of the blockbuster Lionel Bart/Carol Reed musical.

BAFTA-nominees Max Adrian (The Devils) stars as villainous Fagin and Peter Vaughan (Game of Thrones / Our Friends in the North) an indelibly brutal Bill Sikes, Bruce Prochnik (Emergency-Ward 10) a gentle Oliver, Melvyn Hayes (It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) a spry Artful Dodger, and Carmel McSharry (Beryl’s Lot) the trapped and powerless Nancy. Interestingly, both Prochnik, who played Oliver, and Willoughby Goddard (William Tell), who played Mr. Bumble, reprised their roles in the original Broadway production of “Oliver!

This landmark BBC production was a gritty game-changer that raised the bar and stretched the boundaries of TV adaptation and serial drama.

Format: DVD / RRP: £19.99 / Certificate: PG

Catalogue Number: 169661 / Barcode: 5019322696612

Genre: TV Series – Drama / Run Time: 390 mins approx. on 2 discs

 

Bleak House 1959

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The first ever BBC television adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic Bleak House, also adapted by the prolific Constance Cox. Starring Andrew Cruickshank (Dr. Finlay’s Casebook), Diana Fairfax (Just William), Colin Jeavons (The French Lieutenant’s Woman), Timothy Bateson (Dad’s Army) and Michael Aldridge (Last of the Summer Wine).

Dickens’ elegant satire about a disputed inheritance and the self-serving workings of the legal system gripped the public’s imagination. Cruickshank stars as John Jarndyce and Fairfax as his ward Esther Summerson in this delightfully complex comic drama.

A mystery story in which Esther uncovers the truth about her birth and her lost mother Lady Dedlock (Iris Russell); a murder story featuring one of the first detectives in English fiction, Inspector Bucket (Richard Pearson); and at its heart a redemption tale about a desolate home transformed by compassionate love. A slick and satisfying examination of double-dealing and injustice.

Format: DVD / RRP: £19.99 / Certificate: U

Catalogue Number: 167536 / Barcode: 5019322675365

Genre: TV Series – Drama / Run Time: 390 mins approx. on 2 discs

 

Barnaby Rudge (1960)

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The acclaimed BBC adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale of the 1780s Gordon Riots Barnaby Rudge, adapted by Michael Voysey and directed by Z Cars’ Morris Barry, remains the only TV portrayal of Dickens’ tantalizing gothic drama.

Starring John Wood (War Games), Barbara Hicks (Brazil), Timothy Bateson (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and BAFTA-nominee Joan Hickson (Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple).

On a stormy night in 1775 a ragged stranger (Nigel Arkwright) wanders into the Maypole Inn. Edward Chester (Bernard Brown – Crown Court), whose horse is lame, leaves the inn on foot to meet his beloved Emma Haredale (Eira Heath – A Man for All Seasons) at a masked ball. Joe Willet (Alan Hayward – Cash on Demand), quarrels with his father, Maypole landlord John (Arthur Brough – Are you Being Served?), and joins the army, only saying goodbye to Dolly (Jennifer Daniel – The Reptile), the pretty daughter of locksmith Gabriel Varden (Newton Blick – Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment). Varden’s household includes his formidable wife (Joan Hickson) and dithering maid Miss Miggs (Barbara Hicks).

Simple-minded Barnaby Rudge (John Wood) wanders in and out of the story, chattering with his pet raven Grip. Barnaby’s mother Mary (Isabel Dean) is visited by the stranger, and feels compelled to protect him.

As the stories interweave, Barnaby is caught up in the Gordon Riots, a violent demonstration against Catholics. Jailed with the ringleaders, will he hang for their actions?

Format: DVD / RRP: £19.99 / Certificate: PG

Catalogue Number: 169660 / Barcode: 5019322696605

Genre: TV Series – Drama / Run Time: 390 mins approx. on 2 discs

1950’s/1960’s BBC Charles Dickens Classics to be released by Simply Media – July 2017

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It’s very pleasing to see that a number of 1950’s/1960’s BBC Classic Serial adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels are due shortly from Simply Media.  Three have been confirmed for release on the 3rd of July 2007 – Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations and Dombey & Son.

Below is a little more detail about them.

Our Mutual Friend.  Adapted by Freda Lingstrom and broadcast in twelve episodes during 1958/59.  Paul Daneman, Zena Walker, David McCallum, Richard Pearson, Rachel Roberts and Robert Leach head the cast, whilst many other familiar faces – Rachel Gurney, Peggy Thorpe-Bates, Wilfred Brambell, Melvyn Hayes and Barbara Lott – also appear.

Great Expectations.  Adapted by Hugh Leonard and broadcast in ten episodes during 1967.  Gary Bond, Francesca Annis, Neil McCarthy, Richard O’Sullivan, Peter Vaughan and Bernard Hepton are the major players in this one whilst there’s also plenty of quality to be found lower down the cast-list (Ronald Lacey, Jon Laurimore and Kevin Stoney amongst others).

Dombey & Son.  Adapted by Hugh Leonard and broadcast in thirteen episodes during 1969.  A typically strong cast is headed by John Carson as Mr Dombey with Clive Swift, Pat Coombs, Ronald Pickering and Davyd Harries amongst the other familiar faces appearing.

And with three further releases to come in late August – Barnaby Rudge (1960), Oliver Twist (1962) and Bleak House (1959) – the next few months look to be good for those who enjoy classic BBC B&W drama.

Shadow of the Noose to be released by Simply Media – 20th February 2017

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Shadow of the Noose is coming later in the month from Simply Media –

A must-see series for fans of period drama and courtroom drama. Featuring outstanding acting talent including Jonathan Hyde, David Bradley, Siân Phillips, David Schofield, Caroline Quentin, and early performances from Peter Capaldi and David Rintoul

Simply Media is delighted to announce the DVD release of BBC’s Shadow of the Noose: The Complete Series. First shown on BBC Two in 1989, this highly regarded eight-part drama series, with an outstanding all-star cast, will be available to own for the first time on any home video format from 20th February 2017.

Directed by BAFTA-winner Matthew Robinson (Byker Grove / Eastenders) and Sebastian Graham Jones (Cadfael), Shadow of the Noose tells the true story of the career and personal life of “The Great Defender” Sir Edward Marshall Hall. He was London’s most celebrated barrister and the first world-famous legal celebrity, whose gripping cases consistently made news headlines and drew crowds in to the public gallery of the Old Bailey during the late Victorian era and early Edwardian era.

Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) brings Marshall Hall’s style and personality to life on screen in an outstanding performance. Marshall Hall was known for his theatrics as he argued his cases with gusto and determination, keeping the Court audience on the edge of their seat, particularly at a time when a guilty verdict meant facing the rope.

Throughout the series, which is based on true cases, Marshall Hall tackles a variety of seemingly impossible and controversial cases, and defends a colourful array of characters. Whether championing a lowly German prostitute accused of murdering a client, dissecting an ugly libel battle surrounding accusations of homosexuality within an aristocratic family, or defending the accused in the infamous Camden Town Murder…it’s all in a day’s work for Sir Edward Marshall Hall! But when a maid is accused of killing her illegitimate baby Marshall Hall is forced to face his own personal demons when it brings back unhappy memories of his first marriage…

The series also features stellar performances from the supporting cast, which includes Michael Feast (Game of Thrones) as Marshall Hall’s clerk Edgar Bowker, Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly) and David Schofield (Gladiator). Marshall-Hall’s clients are also played by renowned actors such as  Golden Globe nominee Siân Phillips (I, Claudius), BAFTA-winner David Bradley (Broadchurch) and an early performance from Academy Award winner Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Doctor Who).

Probation Officer to be released by Network – January 2017

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Volume One of Probation Officer (containing the twelve earliest surviving episodes) can be pre-bought now at Network.  Payment will be taken immediately, although the DVD won’t be dispatched until late January. For Doomwatch fans, it’s a chance to see a young John Paul, but it also looks like an absorbing, black and white videotaped drama in its own right, with a mouth-watering roster of guest actors.

An early hit for ATV, this absorbing, rigorously researched and very human drama series centres on the work of a team of probation officers based in London, and the lives of the men and women of all ages and backgrounds who come under their care. Drawing on the documentary skills of creator Julian Bond and produced by Emergency – Ward 10’s Antony Kearey, Probation Officer was broadcast at a time – a time when the service was increasingly coming into focus as a progressive response to rising crime.

Future Doomwatch star John Paul stars as newcomer Philip Main, alongside The Avengers’ Honor Blackman as Iris Cope, the team’s only female officer. Guests include Alfred Burke, Susan Hampshire, Charles Lloyd Pack, Richard Vernon and Peter Vaughan – while Earl Cameron and Lloyd Reckord star in a blistering tale of racism and intolerance which features one of the earliest interracial kisses ever broadcast on British television.

Probation Officer does not exist complete in the archive – this volume contains the twelve earliest surviving episodes from series one.

All Star Comedy Carnival to be released by Network – 5th December 2016

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Network will release the 1972 & 1973 editions of All Star Comedy Carnival in December.

An annual television event for five years from 1969, All Star Comedy Carnival was ITV’s annual ‘Christmas bonus’ – presenting viewers with brand-new sketches from the network’s most popular sitcoms of any given year. A highlight of the festive viewing period, only two editions still exist: those for 1972 and 1973.

This set presents both complete shows, comprising specially written festive sketches for thirteen classic series:

• LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
• ON THE BUSES
• CHRISTMAS WITH WOGAN
• NEAREST AND DEAREST
• THIRTY MINUTES WORTH
• SEZ LES
• THE FENN STREET GANG
• FATHER DEAR FATHER
• MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE
• MY GOOD WOMAN
• BILLY LIAR
• SPRING AND AUTUMN
• DOCTOR IN CHARGE

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Dustbinmen: All Star Comedy Carnival sketch from 1969.

Till Death us do Part to be released by Network – 5th December 2016

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Till Death us do Part will be released by Network in December.

Highly popular – and more than a little controversial – Johnny Speight’s classic sitcom satirised the less acceptable aspects of conservative working-class culture and the yawning generation gap, creating a sea change in television comedy that influenced just about every sitcom that followed.  As relevant today as when first transmitted, Speight’s liberal attitude to comedy shone a light on some of the more unsavoury aspects of the national character to great effect.

Starring Warren Mitchell as highly opinionated, true-blue bigot Alf Garnett, Till Death Us Do Part sees him mouthing off on race, immigration, party politics and any other issues that take his fancy. His rantings meet fierce opposition in the form of his left-wing, Liverpudlian layabout son-in-law Mike, while liberal daughter Rita despairs and long-suffering wife Else occasionally wields a sharp put-down of her own.

Though all colour episodes exist, many early black and white episodes were wiped decades ago. The recent recovery of the episode Intolerance, however, alongside off-air audio recordings made on original transmission allow us to present a near-complete run of the series from beginning to end.

Morecambe & Wise: Two of a Kind to be released by Network – 5th December 2016

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Morecambe & Wise: Two of a Kind  will be released by Network in December.

Morecambe and Wise, undoubtedly the best-loved double act that Britain has ever produced, first achieved their phenomenal television success in the early 1960s with this long-running hit series for ATV. Showcasing their mildly anarchic humour, impeccable sense of timing and keen eye for the absurd in a feast of uproarious sketches, onstage antics and musical entertainment, Two of a Kind propelled Morecambe and Wise towards superstardom in no uncertain terms.

Each show features fast-moving skits and musical parodies, with Eric and Ernie giving us their inimitable versions of television favourites Supercar, Face to Face and Candid Camera – in addition to memorable interpretations of key scenes from Macbeth and Hamlet, Eric’s ongoing battle to get his lines right in Samson and Delilah, and undoubtedly the most ambitious attempt ever seen to recreate the ‘fight sequence’ in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! Among the many guest stars are Roy Castle, Joe Brown, Kathy Kirby, Susan Maughan, The Bachelors and Acker Bilk.

This eight disc set contains all 48 editions of Two of a Kind (aka The Morecambe and Wise Show) alongside a wealth of special features – including an exceptionally rare early performance from 1957, several appearances on Val Parnell’s Saturday Spectacular and the two surviving editions of Piccadilly Palace.

All Good Things to be released by Simply Media – 28th November 2016

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All Good Things, originally broadcast in 1991, will be released by Simply Media on the 28th of November 2016.  Review here.

A marriage and home can be made complete with the arrival of a new baby, but Shirley Frame (Brenda Blethyn) feels a need to share her good fortune by going out into the world and helping others – driving husband Phil (Warren Clarke) up the wall.

Shirley Frame (39) gives birth to her third child and is over the moon. Intent on sharing her delight with the world she embarks on a plan to make life a better place for as many people as possible. Husband Phil and their two teenagers aren’t easily convinced.

Very quickly Shirley learns that it’s not easy being a Good Samaritan, especially in a world of tower blocks, drug abuse and homelessness, even if your own life is rosy. Shirley identifies a string of potential good causes, leaving Phil holding the baby as she tries and fails to fix the lives of others.

Whether coaxing a potential suicide from a watery grave, giving reading lessons to an illiterate young mum with an abusive husband, or trying her hand at marriage guidance, Shirley puts her foot in it at every good turn – and invariably brings other people’s problems too close to home for comfort.

Joining double Oscar nominee, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voice) and the ever-dependable Clarke (Dalziel & Pascoe, Nice Work) in this 1991 BBC six-parter are Celia Imrie, Jemma Redgrave and Ken Stott, who were all on track to become equally well-loved household names.

Screenwriter Lesley Bruce’s TV credits also include Doctor Finlay, Lizzie’s Pictures, The Practice and Home Video.

Now on DVD for the first time, this is a wry comedy of errors about losing the plot while attempting to mend the ways of life’s ne’er-do-wells and no-hopers.

Animated Power of the Daleks to be released by BBC Worldwide – November 2016

Now updated with the impressive list of special features

Archive Television Musings

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Although there have been rumours for a few weeks (following the posting of a clip on YouTube) it’s now been confirmed that a fully animated Power of the Daleks will be released in November.  It’ll debut initially on the BBC Store with a DVD release following later the same month.

A very unexpected but welcome early Christmas present.  Hopefully sales (both download and physical) will be healthy and further releases will follow in the future.  The press release is below.

BBC Worldwide to release animation of lost Doctor Who story, The Power of the Daleks

Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks is being produced by the team behind the highly successful animation of lost Dad’s Army episode A Stripe For Frazer, first released on BBC Store in February this year. The producer and director is Charles Norton, with character designs from acclaimed comic book artists Martin Geraghty and Adrian Salmon.

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I Didn’t Know You Cared to be released by Second Sight – 28th November 2016

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Second Sight will be releasing all four series of Peter Tinniswood’s classic sitcom I Didn’t Know You Cared in late November.  Review here.

Classic BBC sitcom I Didn’t Know You Cared arrives as a fantastic DVD Box Set featuring all four series courtesy of Second Sight.

Based on Peter Tinniswood’s renowned books comes one of television’s greatest comedy families, The Brandons, in this hilarious 1970s series. There’s miserable pessimist Uncle Mort (Robin Bailey – Charters & Caldicott), his sharp-tongued sister Annie played by the inimitable Liz Smith (The Royle Family), who is forever rowing with her husband Les (John Comer – Last Of The Summer Wine), there’s their laid-back son Carter and his not so laid-back fiancee Pat and finally old Uncle Staveley who carries his friend’s ashes around his neck in a box and only enters the constant bickering with his cry of ‘I ‘eard that! Pardon’.

This brilliant slice of great British comedy arrives as a bumper four-disc DVD box set on 28 November 2016.

In series one we meet the feuding Brandon family, the only thing that unites them is their determination to turn their lazy son Carter (Stephen Rea – Dickensian) into a go-getting executive before he marries his fiancee Pat (Anita Carey – Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads?). Uncle Staveley (Bert Palmer – Z Cars), contributes to the family rows with his familiar catchphrase. There are seven episodes: ‘Cause For Celebration’; ‘A Knitter in the Family’; ‘The Old Tin Trunk’; ‘After the Ball Was Over’; ‘Aye…Well…Mm…’; ‘Large or Small, Big or Tall’ and ‘The Axe and the Cleaver’.

The second series sees Carter return from his honeymoon but he hasn’t quite adjusted to married life. There are six episodes: ‘The Way My Wife Looks At Me’; ‘Chez Us’; ‘A Woman’s Work’; ‘A Signal Disaster’; ‘You Should See Me Now’; and ‘Good Wood, God’.

Series three sees Uncle Mort worrying about dying and Carter, this time played by Keith Drinkel (Gandhi), worrying about his future at work, this series see his wife Pat played by Liz Goulding (Within These Walls). It features six episodes: ‘Men At Work’; ‘Grave Decision’; ‘Party Games’; ‘A Bleak Day’; ‘Stout Deeds’; ‘Paradise Lost’; and ‘The Last Tram’.

The fourth and final series sees the Brandons get a lodger, Pat (Liz Goulding), goes on a work trip to Europe and Uncle Mort’s pending nuptials. This series sees Leslie Sarony (Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life) star as Uncle Staveley. There are seven episodes: ‘The Love Match’; ‘Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing’; ‘A Tip Top Day’; ‘Don’t Answer That’; ‘The Great Escape’; ‘What’s In a Name?’; and ‘The Great Day’.

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Spike Milligan’s Q Series – Volume One to be released by Simply Media – 21st November 2016

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A pleasant surprise to see this on the release schedule as it’s the type of series which seemed increasingly unlikely to ever materialise on DVD.  And apart from a few minor trims (to excise unclearable music tracks) it will be as complete as it can possibility be.  Review here.

Spike Milligan’s Q was one of the most surreal sketch shows ever made and a huge influence on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which launched six months after Q first aired in 1969. Now this highly sought-after BAFTA-nominated series gets its first ever home entertainment release courtesy of Simply Media, with Q Volume 1: Series 1-3 released on DVD on 21 November 2016.

Considered one of the best examples of the British Comedy Award winner’s eccentricity and ‘stream-of-consciousness’ humour, Spike Milligan’s sketches in Q make outrageous leaps from one subject matter or location to another, stopping with no apparent conclusion, and not shying away from controversial matters. Filled with invention and taking huge risks, Q provides the perfect showcase for Milligan’s surreal wit.

It is clear to see Monty Python in Spike’s work, and the Pythons were quick to nab director Ian MacNaughton for their own show. The series features regular appearances from John Bluthal (The Vicar of Dibley), John D. Collins (‘Allo ‘Allo), Peter Jones (The Rag Trade), and Margaret Nolan (Goldfinger), with seasoned satirists Richard Ingrams and John Wells prominent in the rarely seen early episodes.

Enjoy the madness and mayhem of Spike Milligan’s Q5, Q6, and Q7 again in this landmark DVD release which contains all surviving episodes from series one, and the complete series two and three.

The Justice Game to be released by Simply Media – 10th October 2016

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The Justice Game – Series One and Two will be released on the 10th of October by Simply Media.  Review here.

New Tricks star Denis Lawson stars as suave criminal lawyer Dominic Rossi, who exposes corruption in Glasgow and loses his heart in Italy in this gripping miniseries from 1989. After a successful career break in America, Rossi returns to his Glasgow roots. As he investigates the fatal stabbing of an elderly man at a bus stop, and defends a tough ex-soldier accused of a vigilante killing, he untangles a shady web of big business. Digging deeper, all trails lead to a Mr Big called Tim Forsythe (Michael Kitchen – Foyle’s War) – who will stop at nothing to make sure Rossi doesn’t reveal too much.

In series two, Rossi falls in love with the beautiful Francesca (Anita Zagaria – Under the Tuscan Sun) while on holiday in Sorrento, then discovers that many of her friends have been murdered. As he investigates another killing back in Glasgow Francesca shows up, apparently with the Italian murderer in tow. But it turns out she’s hiding a shattering truth from her past.

Lawson sparkles as a smooth operator with a steely sense of justice in this thrilling series alongside an all-star supporting cast including BAFTA winner James Cosmo (Braveheart), Ron Donachie (Game of Thrones), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’s Diary), Joss Ackland (The Hunt for Red October) and Diana Quick (Saving Grace).

Directed by BAFTA winner Norman Stone (Shadowlands) and written by John Brown (The Flying Scotsman), The Justice Game: Series 1 and 2 arrives on DVD on 10 October 2016.

Prince Regent to be released by Simply Media – 17th October 2016

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Starring Peter Egan and Susannah York, Prince Regent will be released by Simply Media on the 17th of October 2016.  Review here.

BAFTA winner Peter Egan (Chariots of Fire), Oscar and Primetime Emmy nominee Susannah York (Superman) and Nigel Davenport (Chariots of Fire) star in the BAFTA winning eight-part historical drama, Prince Regent: The Complete Series.

Transmitted by the BBC in 1979, the series depicts the life and times of George IV (1762-1830) from his early days of debauchery, his ascent to the throne as Prince Regent and his reign as King. Covering his famously dissolute lifestyle including his two marriages (one legal, one not), his mistresses, the famous men of his day and the over-indulgence and frustration of waiting for his father George III to die or remain mad; this sumptuous series will be available on DVD from 17 October 2016.

Directed by BAFTA winner Michael Simpson (The Bill) and also featuring Patsy Kensit (Holby City) and Cherie Lunghi (Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein).

 

The Legend of King Arthur to be released by Simply Media – 10th October 2016

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The Legend of King Arthur will be released by Simply Media on the 10th of October 2016.  Review here.

Andrew Davies’ (House of Cards) sumptuous adaptation of the timeless saga, The Legend of King Arthur, makes its home entertainment debut on 10 October 2016 with the complete 1979 series.

Dark Ages wizard Merlin (Robert Eddison – Indiana Jones), weary of the barbarism around him, creates a new order of enlightenment and justice with a youthful Arthur (Andrew Burt – Emmerdale) at its head. Merlin presents Arthur with the magic sword Excalibur to help him defeat the nobles who oppose his rule. But Arthur must also beware his half-sister Morgan (Maureen O’Brien – Doctor Who), a sorceress who has sworn to kill him to avenge her father’s death.

As Morgan intensifies her campaign, she uses magic to draw Lancelot (David Robb – Downton Abbey) and Guinevere (Felicity Dean – The Whistle Blower) into a passionate affair. But it is the still more traitorous Mordred (Steve Hodson – Break in the Sun) who will fatally halt Arthur’s rule.

Bringing high romance, low treachery and magical adventure via a host of legendary characters and featuring an early appearance by Patsy Kensit (Holby City), this is a fabulous retelling of the gloriously twisting tale.