A round up of the latest TV related DVD releases and some you may have missed.
The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs Created by Humphrey Barclay to showcase the emerging talents of a young David Jason, this Cold War comedy series charts the inexplicable successes of Edgar Briggs – a clueless counter-espionage agent who inspires fear in the hearts of enemy agents, and sheer terror amongst his fellow colleagues! Somehow, the bungling Briggs has reached a position of responsibility within the Intelligence Service, and directs a team of sensible men and women. Despite their attempts to restrain him, he still manages to cause chaos wherever he goes. Yet Briggs always gets his man; the reason could be that, judging others by his own standards, he believes that everyone else is a fool...
The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson. Creator of the legendary Thunderbirds, Gerry Anderson scored incredible successes throughout the 1960s and '70s with Captain Scarlet, UFO, Space: 1999 and other series which appealed to both children and adults alike. Not all his ideas, however, went to a full series and this set contains the 1970s pilots for both The Investigator and The Day After Tomorrow, as well as the 1986 pilot for Space Police, which was eventually reworked as Space Precinct nearly a decade later. Alongside these rare and much sought after programmes, this collector's set also includes: You've Never Seen This - Gerry's directorial debut, from 1955. Here Comes Kandy - a colour puppet pilot made by Gerry's company Pentagon Films in 1956.
Long-awaited, long-overdue: The Professionals as you have never seen them before. Bodie and Doyle need little by way of introduction, but if the series had at all escaped you since its debut in 1977 their boss George Cowley, head of CI5, couldn't put it more succinctly than his opening gambit: "anarchy, acts of terror, crimes against the public. To combat it I've got special men – experts from the army, the police, from every service. These are The Professionals". Featuring the perfect ensemble cast of Martin Shaw, Gordon Jackson (completely against type here) and the much-missed Lewis Collins, the series ran for 57 action-packed episodes and made an immediate impact on British and then international audiences which has sustained 35 years. But the series has never looked this good. Painstakingly restored from the camera-original negatives the series could have been made yesterday. No matter how many times you have seen The Professionals, this is a new experience, like seeing it for the first time.
Available in May: Spinning off from the legendary television pop show 6.5 Special, this star-studded, song-filled feature centres on an aspiring young singer taking her first step towards fame when she catches the 'Six-Five Special' to London. To her surprise, she finds the train packed with an array of '50s showbiz talent – and, as the musical artistes rehearse en route, she gets a ringside seat to performances by Lonnie Donegan, Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth, Petula Clark, The John Barry Seven and many more! Scripted by Carry On stalwart Norman Hudis and featuring comic relief from Mike and Bernie Winters, Six-Five Special is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements. Also included is the edited 1962 re-release: Calling All Cats. Also available in Blu Ray.
Stella: The fictional town of Pontyberry in the South Wales Valleys is home to Stella Morris – a vivacious 40-something single divorcee making a living doing the locals’ washing and ironing. But what Stella does best is juggle the ups and downs of her family, ex-husbands, lovers and friends. And that’s a full-time job... Her eldest son Luke is in jail and her teenage daughter Emma is heading off the rails. Her best friend Paula is a functioning alcoholic funeral director with a vigorous sex life, her shallow- as-a puddle ex has taken up with a 28-year old and the lollipop man has been in love with her since 1984. And then there’s the tricky issue of love which takes her totally by surprise.. Oh, and the neighbours across the road keep a horse outside the front door. After her love life rollercoaster ride of series 2, Stella has renounced men and embarked on a new nursing career. With all her children and grandchildren plus a dog now living at home, Stella’s house is bursting at the seams. Just as she likes it! But an encounter with a new neighbour rocks Stella’s already chaotic boat… in more ways than one.
Kate Summerscale, the author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House, is an award-winning English writer and journalist. Based on a real-life crime committed by Constance Kent and investigated by Jack Whicher, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2008, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher was turned into a major TV series. In the early days of criminal investigation, before guilt and innocence were determined by forensic science, there was a detective, “ a man of mystery”, with an uncanny ability to read the human character and an unswerving instinct for the truth. In Victorian England, justice depended on The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. This set includes The Murder at Road Hill House, The Murder in Angel Lane, Beyond the Pale and The Ties That Bind.
The major adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies starring Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance. Wolf Hall presents an intimate portrait of Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance), the brilliant consigliere to King Henry VIII (Damian Lewis), as he manoeuvres the corridors of power at the Tudor court. Directed by BAFTA award-Wwinner Peter Kosminsky, this powerful series follows the complex machinations and back room dealings of Cromwell--a pragmatic and accomplished power broker, from humble beginnings and with an enigmatic past. Cromwell serves king and country while navigating deadly political intrigue, the King's tempestuous relationship with Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy) and the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation.
Television Heaven Recommends - Off The Box.
A round up of the latest non-TV related DVD releases.
Capitalising on his remarkable success in On the Buses, Reg Varney took on the contrasting role of a third-rate holiday camp entertainer dreaming of stardom in this mid-seventies tragi-comedy feature. Also starring Diana Coupland and Lee Montague, The Best Pair of Legs in the Business was adapted from an individual ITV Playhouse drama and scripted by Emmerdale Farm creator Kevin Laffan - presented here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements, in its correct aspect ratio. 'Sherry' Sheridan, a middle-aged compere and drag artiste currently stationed at a caravan site, is low on talent but high on ambition. Convinced he just needs one decent break to launch himself into the big time, he's relentlessly optimistic - but sadly unaware that his family life is crumbling around him. Can Sherry manage to secure both his job, and his marriage?
Based on the enormously popular television and radio sitcom Whack-O!, this 1960 comedy feature stars Jimmy Edwards in the classic role of devious, cane-brandishing headmaster. A later addition to the impressive series of comedies by Two Cities Films co-founder Mario Zampi, Bottoms Up! was co-scripted by Michael Pertwee and Whack-O! writers Frank Muir and Denis Norden; Edwards’ co-stars include Melvyn Hayes and, in an early film role, Richard Briers. Chiselbury School, according to the prospectus, is an academy ‘for the sons of gentlefolk’. Regardless of what the prospectus says, however, the boys are very far from being gentlemen; they are an undisciplined rabble. It is, in fact, a school like no other – anywhere. But Chiselbury’s head, Professor Jim Edwards, is about to put into action a novel scheme to raise the school’s profile...
The Cracksman is an hugely endearing crime caper stars Charlie Drake as a mild-mannered locksmith whose talents land him in hot water when he's recruited by a criminal gang; Nyree Dawn Porter is the beautiful girl who could spell his downfall, with Oscar winner George Sanders as rival crime boss 'the Guv'nor' opposite Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets' villainous aristocratic outcast). Ernest Wright's peerless prowess as a locksmith comes to the attention of a tough big-time crook, who feels that the little man would be a valuable asset to his crime kingdom. In order to inveigle him into a series of jobs, he sets up a beautiful hostess as a trap, into which the hapless Ernest inevitably falls..!