DVD RELEASES - AVAILABLE NOW
THE MALE OF THE SPECIES: THREE PLAYS BY ALUN OWEN
Featuring rare television performances from Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Paul Scofield, and with Anna Calder-Marshall as the increasingly savvy Mary MacNeil, this trilogy of plays, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, forms a dramatic and controversial study in male behaviour. Part of ITV’s celebrated anthology series Saturday Night Theatre, Male of the Species was written by Oscar-nominated playwright Alun Owen and originally screened in 1969 to great acclaim, earning Primetime Emmy Awards for both Paul Scofield and Anna Calder-Marshall. Never trust a man – whoever he is. This is the bitter lesson learned by Mary MacNeil in her relationships with three different men: her father, a mendacious womaniser; a smooth-talking office flirt, Cornelius; and an elderly barrister, Emlyn, who is enchanted by Mary’s youthful vitality and charm. Only one of these men will win her heart in the end…
BIRDS OF A FEATHER: THE COMPLETE SERIES
One of the nineties’ most consistently successful and fondly remembered sitcoms, Birds of a Feather stars Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson as Sharon and Tracey, North London-born sisters left to fend for themselves, both financially and emotionally, when their husbands are jailed for armed robbery. While Darryl and Chris do time, the girls try numerous ways to bolster their dwindling finances – from dog-walking services to hawking cheap perfume, swimming-pool construction to their own cleaning business: 'Maids of Ongar'. Doing their best to hang onto 'Dalentrace', Tracey’s smart home, the sisters also enjoy regular visits from waspish yet sympathetic neighbour Dorien (Lesley Joseph), whose high-grade gossip and extramarital antics liven up many a dull day in Chigwell...This complete set brings together all nine series, including six Christmas Specials and a 1996 retrospective, The Chigwell Years.
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM: VOLUMES 1 and 2
Debuting on ITV’s opening weekend in 1955, Sunday Night at the London Palladium swiftly established itself as one of the weekly televisual highlights and was one of the core shows that helped establish commercial television in the UK, transcending class, denomination and age group – an unquestionable success which still provides a high benchmark that today’s variety shows can only aspire to. Hosted mainly by Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck, this set contains what little remains in the archives for the series, and guests featured include Beryl Reid, Adam Faith (with the John Barry Seven), Bobby Darin, Cleo Laine and the Johnny Dankworth Seven, Pinky and Perky, Sarah Vaughan, Freddie and the Dreamers, Mario Lanza, Larry Grayson, Jim Dale, Paul Anka, Rod Hull and Emu, Ted Rogers, Sacha Distel, Bob Monkhouse, Clodagh Rodgers, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, The Searchers, The Hollies, Arthur Haynes, Des O’Connor – and many more.
A VERY PECULIAR PRACTICE
Lowlands University is a swamp of fear and loathing. A showpiece Sixties campus looking increasingly anachronistic in the paranoid, profit-driven Eighties, it is staffed by angst-ridden academics desperate to hang onto their privileged status amid swingeing cutbacks. It also houses what may well be the worst medical practice in the British Isles. Stephen Daker sees his new job at the Medical Centre as a chance to pursue excellence among a dedicated team and he’s somewhat shaken when his colleagues turn out to be a wildly unpredictable dipsomaniac, a public school-educated fascist and an uber-feminist who sees illness as something men do to women. Dark secrets, sinister experiments, demented academics, STD epidemics, the Yankee Dollar, a desperate Creative with writer’s block and a couple of nuns all conspire to make life on campus a hair-raising experience for Stephen! Andrew Davies’ surreal, searingly funny look at sexual politics, medical malpractice and academic rivalry at the height of the Thatcher era won huge acclaim and a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Series. This set comprises both series and A Very Polish Practice, the 1992 sequel film which finds Stephen coping with life in post-Communism Warsaw.
THE COMPLETE HARRY WORTH COLLECTION
The first thing you should know about The Complete Harry Worth Collection is that it isn't. Far from being complete this box set, presented on 4 discs, isn't even the full output of his ITV series' as How's Your Father?, the 1979 sitcom from Yorkshire Television is not included. What you do get, however, is the full 23 editions (and one short special) of the three series of Thirty Minutes Worth which was made by Thames Television between 1972 to 1973. Thames appeared to want to get their money's worth from Harry in as short a time as possible, and in doing so they changed the format that viewers of his excellent BBC series, Here's Harry, had instantly taken to their hearts. No longer was Harry in a situation comedy where his complete misunderstanding of the world around him led to a half hour of hilarious calamity. Instead, Harry was dropped into a sketch show where the same vagueness of character seems somehow more contrived. It's not without its moments, and watching Harry lock himself and then his neighbours, one by one, out of their houses is classic Worth. ITV saw Harry's defection from the BBC as a massive coup in 1972, but unfortunately they didn't make the best of him. Realising this perhaps, his return to domestic sitcom came in My Name Is Harry Worth made by Thames in 1974. This is more familiar ground for Harry and he seems more at ease here. Unfortunately, the series is let down by some poor scripts, the only saving grace being the man himself. Harry plays to perfection and with great comic timing the exasperatingly endearing social misfit forever on the edge of understanding. A sort of Victor Meldrew, but without the aggressive attitude and biting edge of social commentary. If you are a fan of Harry's you'll enjoy this collection. If you're not - I would be hard pressed to recommend it.
Bob Hoskins, Martin Shaw, Paul Eddington and David Daker are among the cast of this LWT crime series with a difference. Villains follows the exploits of nine bank-robbers from the moment of their dramatic escape from imprisonment; told from the point of view of the criminals, the individual stories of the men, their accomplices, their women and the audacious heist itself unfold through each of the 13 hour-long episodes. Nine men move into a disused ladies’ lavatory and seal themselves in for the weekend. Then they tunnel their way up through the floor of a nearby City bank, and walk out clutching a third of a million pounds between them. It seems the perfect job – but something goes wrong. Most of the men are subsequently caught and convicted. One year on, as the “Bog Robbers” are being driven from prison to the Appeal Court another ingenious plan is put into action. It sees them going on the run, taking desperate, sometimes farcical measures to evade recapture, and finding time to reflect on their pasts and uncertain futures.
Nicholas Ball stars in his best-known role as a tough, charismatic private detective in this hit Thames series, first aired in the late 1970s and created by journalist and novelist Gordon Williams, and future England coach Terry Venables. Hazell paid homage to classic film noir while boasting rounded characterisations, sparkling Cockney dialogue and highly credible action scenes, all set in the kind of seedy London locations that would be revisited in Minder - the series created by screenwriter Leon Griffiths following his work on Hazell; other high-profile writers here include Trevor Preston (The Sweeney) and author Richard Harris (A Touch of Frost). Following the curtailment of his police career after an injury and subsequent slide into alcoholism, the newly reformed James Hazell sets himself up as a private eye. Utterly ruthless when he needs to be, Hazell is also blessed with a breezy charm, effortless style, robust sense of humour and the ability to think on his feet - vital when tackling blackmail, missing persons cases, organised crime and the drugs trade... or dour Scottish CID adversary 'Choc' Minty (played to perfection by Roddy McMillan). Desmond McNamara stars as Hazell's cousin and assistant Tel, with Barbara Young as landlady and sometime employer Dot - one of British TV’s first regular gay characters; a memorably raunchy theme, composed by Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay, provided a Top 40 hit for blues/rock singer Maggie Bell. This set contains all 22 episode from both series.
BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE / ANOTHER BOUQUET
Andrea Newman’s two provocative series explore the tangled sexual and emotional relationships of a middle-class family as it is torn apart by a father’s obsessive love for his own daughter. Peter Manson and his wife, Cassie, appear to enjoy the perfect marriage. But their daughter Prue’s marriage to her American boyfriend, Gavin proves the catalyst to the family’s disintegration, as Peter’s jealous feelings for Prue reach a peak and Cassie, in search of emotional fulfi lment, throws herself into a series of affairs – including one with Gavin. After Prue’s death in childbirth, grief further tears the family apart, as Peter searches for closure and Gavin struggles to raise his daughter. Bouquet of Barbed Wire and Another Bouquet are powerful studies in the fragility of family unity and the destructive consequences of forbidden desire. With spellbinding performances from Frank Finlay, Sheila Allen and Susan Penhaligon, both series were hugely popular with both the viewing public and critics. Even without the attention of the tabloid press – inevitable, given the risqué scenes and themes of incestuous desire – the series are among the most celebrated, and controversial, dramas in British TV history.
TOM GRATTAN'S WAR
With his father fighting at the front and his mother working in a London munitions factory, 16-year old Tom Grattan is sent to stay with relatives in rural Yorkshire for the duration of the First World War. Once at the Kirkbys’ farm he is set to work in the fields, making his own quiet contribution to the war effort. But Tom is introduced to much more than unfamiliar country ways. Along with the Kirkbys’ daughter, Julia, he encounters espionage, kidnapping, robbery and sabotage, and also faces more complex dilemmas – not least when German prisoners of war working at the nearby quarry become the target for angry attacks by local people who have lost loved ones at the front. Whilst the war is fought on the remote battlefields of Europe, its consequences are all too real for Tom and his new friends. Dramatic and often spectacular storylines combine with themes of duty and moral conflict in this acclaimed Yorkshire Television adventure series for a younger audience. Tom Grattan’s War features contributions from award-winning director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and Follyfoot writers Audley Southcott and Tony Essex, among others. Available for the very first time in home video format, this release brings together every single episode, originally screened between 1968 and 1970.
THE GOLD ROBBERS
This dynamic and tightly scripted drama centres on the search for the perpetrators of a multi-million-pound gold bullion robbery; Peter Vaughan stars as the C.I.D. officer doggedly tracking down all those who hold clues to the identity of the mastermind behind the raid. Vaughan’s strong performance is supported by some of the key dramatic actors of the late ‘60s, including Joss Ackland, Alfred Lynch, George Cole, Bernard Hepton, George Innes, Roy Dotrice and Peter Bowles. Arthur Butler, the former Scotland Yard officer who had worked on the investigation into the Great Train Robbery, acted as technical adviser on the series, and it earned acclaimed producer and screenwriter John Hawkesworth (Upstairs, Downstairs) a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Series; among a celebrated team of writers were former Z Cars contributors Alan Prior and Eric Coltart. The Gold Robbers originally aired in 1969 and all thirteen episodes of this much sought-after drama, as well as the feature-length repeat edit of the final two episodes, are included in this set.
THE PAUL TEMPLE COLLECTION
Stylish, cool, incisive - protective of his loving wife "Steve" - Paul Temple was an exemplary crime writer turned crime solver as played by Francis Matthews in the acclaimed and much loved TV series. Often filmed at glamorous locations throughout Europe, Temple operated like a cross-between Miss Marple and Poirot with the slick cutting-edge style of The Saint. The Paul Temple Collection represents the surviving colour episodes of this rich series, a time capsule of 1970s fashion in clothes, cars, décor - and crime. The idle rich in Malta, who play a dangerous game with Steve as the bait. A gang lord in Arles using a local bullring to set up a murder. A German businessman who finds himself caught up in a deadly carnival of politics and radical rebellion. A murder mystery resolved live on TV; a chance meeting in a Motel where death and deception have checked in; a murdered maiden in a crypt that uncovers local witchery. These - and more - are the tales that make up an unmissable collection of mysteries that must be solved; and there's only one crime writer who can do it.
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