I was very sorry to hear that Network’s founder, Tim Beddows, recently passed away at the very early age of 59 (click here for more info). The fact that I have multiple shelves groaning with Network’s DVDs is testament to just how much this one company has been responsible for developing my appreciation for archive television over the past few decades.
Network have always been a company that’s delighted in championing the obscure, which is one of the main reasons why I love them. Their archive television releases may have slowed down in recent years, but you can never guess what might pop up next. Give Us A Clue, for example. I wasn’t expecting that, but I’ll certainly take it.
What follows is a quick list of just a few of my favourites from their back catalogue – some were titles new to me, others were ones where I was happy to upgrade from VHS to DVD (or BD). Let’s dive in ….
This might very well have been the first Network DVD I bought, certainly it was one of the earliest. I do remember that the original pressing had a rather eccentric menu selection page, meaning that selecting a specific PIF was something of a challenge. Thankfully, some years later the disc was repressed with a bonus second volume, and this is the one that I keep returning to on a regular basis.
I loved the early years of Network, which saw a regular stream of releases that I had no prior knowledge of (but was more than happy to take a chance on). More often than not, as with Public Eye, I came up trumps. For some reason the repeats back in the day totally passed me by, but from the first episode I saw (Welcome to Brighton?) I was hooked.
This was another, equally obscure series to me (and I guess to most of the target audience). Series one was another blind buy, but again it was money well spent and Cork now ranks as one of my favourite 1960’s drama series. A production line series, with episodes churned out regularly over several lengthy periods, it’s slightly astounding that the quality always remained so high. And the fact that every episode was eventually located is another miracle for a drama series of this era. If you haven’t seen it, then I’d heartily recommend it.
Thanks to Network, I’ve a large chunk of ITC’s film series output. I remain very fond of the big hitters (like The Saint) but equally I’ve a lot of time for shows like Gideon’s Way. More kitchen-sink than ITC’s usual crime shows (although the series lacked the dark edge found in John Creasey’s novels) it’s another series which has withstood multiple rewatches.
When I bought volume one of Crown Court, I didn’t really imagine I’d be that interested in picking up any further releases. Like many, I had dim memories of the series from times spent at home as a child (either from being sick or at half term) and assumed that this first release would be enough to quench my thirst. Wrong! The quality of the scripting and acting came as a real surprise and I hungrily snapped up the subsequent seven releases. I still pine today for further DVDs. Maybe one day.
There are so many others bubbling under this top five list – Sunday Night at the London Palladium, The Beiderbecke Trilogy, The Plane Makers, The Power Game, The Main Chance, Callan, Special Branch, Redcap, Star Cops, The Feathered Serpent, Sykes, Sez Les, etc, etc.
If there’s any I’ve missed (and I’m sure there’s plenty) please feel free to leave a comment below.