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All in Good Faith - The Complete Series 1 [DVD]
All in Good Faith - The Complete Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Briers
Price: £6.19

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb witty clerical sitcom with an excellent cast, 22 Jan. 2014
After The Good Life ended in 1978 Richard Briers starred in several sitcoms but none of them captured the public imagination until Ever Decreasing Circles and even that was a slow burner with a gap of two years between series 2 and 3. In between those two series he got the call from Thames to star in All In Good Faith, his first ITV sitcom which ran for three series between 1985 and 1988.
Boasting a script by John Kane (Me and My Girl, Never the Twain, Terry and June, Four Idle Hands), music by Ronnie Hazlehurst and direction/production by John Howard-Davies this has a good pedigree. The ever-excellent Briers plays country vicar Philip Lambe who dissatisfied with his life feels he needs a challenge and asks the Bishop for a transfer to an inner city parish. He keeps his decision secret from his wife Emma (Barbara Ferris) and much of this first series centres on him trying to win her round to the idea before they make the move.
There are a few of the usual sitcom diversions in the shape of two bickering teenage kids and a demanding parishioner Major Andrews (James Cossins) but this first series seems more like a comic play split into 6 parts than a traditional sitcom.
Nigel Humphreys and John Barrard offer solid comic support as the chalk-and-cheese church wardens of the new inner city parish plus there are guest appearances from Noel Dyson, Raymond Francis and Ronald Leigh-Hunt among others.
The success of any sitcom is the characters being likeable and believable and that's certainly true here. Briers in on top form and he and Ferris have a good on-screen chemistry, the supporting cast shine and even the two teenagers are a long way from the usual awkward stage school types. Very much in the same vein as Ever Decreasing Circles All In Good Faith deserves a wider audience and I hope Network release the other two series where the Reverend Lambe's fish out of water experience becomes more apparent.


Whodunnit - The Complete Series 3 [DVD]
Whodunnit - The Complete Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: £16.77

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitsch, camp '70s nostalgia at its best, 8 Aug. 2012
Most people remember Jeremy Lloyd for the series of super sitcoms he wrote with David Croft in the 1970s and 80s but he also created this crime solving panel game with actor/comedian Lance Percival, co-writing many of the episodes together.

This 3-disc set includes the entire ten part third series originally broadcast in August-October 1975. As in the last series Jon Pertwee hosts the proceedings. It features a cast of famous actors camping it up in the whodunnit playlets including Hildegarde Neil, Robert Lyndsay, David Yip, Simon Rouse (Superintendent Jack Meadows in The Bill), Burt Kwouk, Simon Williams, Nicola Pagett, William Russell, Ronald Hines and future playwright Kevin Elyot. Regular panel guests are Patrick Mower and Anouska Hempel while others include Wendy Craig, Leslie Crowther, Alfred Marks, Jackie Collins, Richard O'Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, Diana Dors, Rodney Bewes, Terry Scott and Jackie Collins.

As always the stories are mixed, some work very well but others are a little fanciful. If you don't just want to wallow in 1970s nostalgia but enjoy, as I do, trying to work out who committed the murder then you may be disappointed by a few of the entries. Particularly bad is the series opener Portrait In Black which is enjoyable with a good cast and some amusing moments but has an ending that is just too simple with no proper explanation. But don't let that put you off, this is a superb slice of 70s fun. And also included is the 1974 Christmas special A Piece Of Cake which features cameo appearances by Jeremy Lloyd and Lance Percival along with Eamon Andrews and Hughie Green.

PS: This show was superbly spoofed on the David Renwick-Andrew Marshall penned LWT 1978 comedy series End Of Part One with a panel of Jon Pertwee lookalikes competing to solve the crime (this series is being released on DVD in November 2012).


Children's Film Foundation Collection: London Tales (The Salvage Gang | Operation Third Form | Night Ferry)(DVD)
Children's Film Foundation Collection: London Tales (The Salvage Gang | Operation Third Form | Night Ferry)(DVD)
Dvd ~ Bernard Cribbins
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £11.99

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very welcome release for three superb Children's Film Foundation adventure stories, 8 Aug. 2012
This DVD is a treat for lovers of children's adventure films and for anyone who enjoys seeing footage of old London streets. It has taken the BFI an age to realise that old children's films are for fans of all ages including those who remember seeing them at the cinema the first time round. There were a few video releases in the 1980s and later a set of four DVDs but this is the first outing for CFF feature films in over a decade. This DVD contains three feature films and a short documentary.

The Salvage Gang is a simple but beautifully filmed story of four children and their attempts to raise some cash. The cast includes Frazer Hines and Amanda Coxell (from the CFF Masters of Venus and Famous Five series). While making a rabbit hutch one of the children damage their dad's saw and they spend the rest of the film painting a barge, washing dogs, cleaning cars and collecting salvage to sell at the local scrap yard in order to get the money for a new saw. Made entirely on location there is lots of old lovely footage of the Capital's streets to drool over including various back sreets near Islington Geen (Devonia Street, Chantry Street, Colebrook Row and Union Square), Scrubs Lane in Willseden and an exciting chase on the number 78 bus from Shoreditch to Tower Bridge to rescue an old iron bedstead. The children then have to push the bedstead back though London streets including a wonderful scene by St Lukes Church in Old Street where they have to dismantle the bed and an encounter with a tramp (Wilfred Brambell) in Clerkenwell Green in Farringdon where he decides to take a kip on their bed. Lovers of old commercial vehicles will enjoy the glimpses of buses, mechanical horses, lorries and coaches which are in abundence on the main road while the back streets are almost empty.

Operation Third Form has similar elements but is a crime story about a gang of school children (led by a young John Moulder-Brown and Roberta Tovey) who thwart a villain's attempt to steal a valuable painting. Again made entirely on location we here see extensive footage of parts of Hampstead, Highgate, Swiss Cottage and Regents Park with more buses and lovely old vehicles including classic cars. Guest stars include Derrin Nesbit.

Night Ferry is another crime tale this time from 1976 in glorious colour about a villain called `Pyramid' (Bernard Cribbins) who plans to smuggle an ancient Egyptian mummy out of the country. A gang of children save the day ending in a dramatic chase via Victoria Station and Clapham Junction with two of the children on the train with the villans and the other in pursuit. Here we see loads of shots of South London's myriad of overground railways and viaducts in and around Clapham and scenes of Latchmere Road in Battersea plus shots of Arding and Hobbs department store and on board the night ferry train from London to Dover.

All in all three genuinely exciting films plus Topic - a short documentary made in 1959 looking at the concept of the specially funded Children's Film Foundation by two visting American journalists. This is interesting because it includes footage of The Salvage Gang being filmed and interviews with young fans of CFF films. The girls interviewed both say they like the adventure films more than the romantic stories.

The soundtracks of all three films are superb by the way. The Salavage Gang is composed by Jack Breaver who was a stalwart at Gainsborough films in the 1930s and the latter two are both by Harry Robinson who does a particularly good job with the memorable James Bond-style score for Operation Third Form.

By comparison the booklet that comes with the DVD is disappointing. Here is a missed opportunity to tell the story of The Children's Film Foundation and to supply some useful background information about the films and the cast members, the soundtracks, even details of the locations (this DVD is after all sold on the strength of the films' locale - London). Instead the booklet includes three rather dull 'essays' which are not really essays but one page reviews and not very good reviews at that. The writers waste a lot of time describing the plot (which you would already know if you have just watched the films) and include some rather obvious cliched comments.

The introduction by Andrew Roberts (who we learn is doing a PhD on 'Middle Class Identity' whatever that means) is little better where, for example, he tells us that The Salvage Gang includes scenes in cafes "filled with men in demob suits" - there are no such scenes in this film and anyway this was thirteen years after the war ended - why would anyone be wearing demob suits?! There is also a longer, more interesting piece about the CFF but this is reprinted from the two BFI Famous Five DVD sets. This seems very cheeky and lazy. Come on BFI, try harder next time.

Hopefully the BFI will release other films in this series - a mega box set would be nice - but preferably with more informative and accurate notes (If they're looking for volunteers I'm available).


Shoestring - Series 1 [DVD] [1979]
Shoestring - Series 1 [DVD] [1979]
Dvd ~ Trevor Eve
Price: £8.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb '70s series with a young Trevor Eve on top form., 2 July 2012
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This is a great series to have on DVD, a must-have for anyone into '70s cop shows. Some wonderful memories of Sunday evenings in autumn of 1979, a more innocent, less complicated age. I wish there were more series like this.

Eddie was always one of my heroes. I love the fact that everyone from villains to schoolkids listens to Radio West (there are no other radio stations) but despite this almost no one has heard of Eddie Shoestring and react to his name with contempt or derision (he gets called "Bootlace", "Shoetree", etc). I also love the fact that Eddie manages to be both polite and rude at the same time to authority figures he doesn't like including his boss Don Satchley. I wish I had that ability. And I loved Eddie's scruffy-casual dress sense, be it a white linen jacket with baggy dark brown cords and hush puppies or a tweed suit with striped pajama jacket shirt and that all-important loosely undone knitted tie. I remember buying similar ties when I was in the sixth form that year.

Now the episodes are (finally) presented unedited the re-inserted scenes give some of the stories a different flavour. For example The Partnership is suddenly much more about receptionist Sonia whose friend is in trouble. The Alibi version cuts out a whole 3 minute scene when Sonia is in a pub which supplies Eddie with valuable information he needs for his investigation. Also the quality of the episode Stamp Duty is greatly improved on the broadcast version with the projector lines on the early scenes removed.

An interesting coincidence is that the plot of episode 7 (The Link Up) about a round the world yachtsman who loses his nerve and is in hiding while his wife and sponsor pretend he is continuing with the trip is similar to the 1951 Francis Durbridge film The Teckman Mystery. Here a top test pilot has lost his nerve and goes into hiding while his sister covers up for him. Michael Medwin played the pilot in the film and of course was Eddie's boss (Don Satchley) in Shoestring.


The Tyrant King - The Complete Series [DVD]
The Tyrant King - The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philip Madoc
Price: £8.64

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swinging sixties teen drama with a superb psychedlic soundtrack!, 2 Dec. 2011
NB: This review contains a spoiler.

This long-forgotten Thames TV kids drama series (originally broadcast 1 October - 7 November 1968) was directed by Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Pulp, etc), and was scripted by Trevor Preston (Ace Of Wands, The Sweeney) and combined a psychedelic pop soundtrack with swinging London locations and fashions, to great effect. So while not a music show as such it tapped into the genre with its self-consciously hip style of writing and direction, and by utilising (then) current trends in pop.

The 6-part series was made to promote the London region whose territory Thames had just secured. Based on a novel by Aylmer Hall (published by London Transport), it was designed to encourage teenagers to visit the Capitol's various locations and was described by director Mike Hodges as "a microboppers London trip"!

The story centres around three teenagers who search London for the mysterious `Tyrant King' after overhearing a telephone call in an old house. The trendy teen trio (perhaps resembling a youthful Bob, Pete and Sarah from indie pop group St Etienne) wear the latest fashions and visit numerous Lonon locations including Carnaby Street, The South Bank Centre, St Pauls, The Tower of London, The Commonwealth Institute, Kew Gardens and an ice rink in Queensway. These London landmarks are shown off to their best advantage being photographed from unusual angles with fish-eye lens shots and neat cut-up techniques giving the show a surreal frisson to suit the plot. Also being filmed entirely on location gives the show a fresh, urgent feel and dispenses with harshly-lit studio scenes that bog down so many dramas of the period.

Guest stars include Phillip Madoc as the mysterious `Scarface' and Murray Melvin (fresh from Swinging Sixties romp Smashing Time and previously Alfie) camping it up as creepy villan `Uncle Gerry'.

But it is the score which gives the series most of its cult appeal today. The pop art-style opening titles are displayed on a billbord in a busy London Street to the accompaniment of The Nice's psych-pop anthem `Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack'. The various episodes utilise further tracks from The Nice's debut set as well as material from Cream's `Wheels Of Fire' and `Disraeli Gears', The Moody Blues `In Search Of The Lost Chord' and most memorably Pink Floyd's `Saucerful Of Secrets" and `Piper at the Gates of Dawn'. In some cases the vocals have been edited out leaving the instrumental passages, perhaps best displayed by Jack Bruce's haunting cello intro from `As You Said' which crops up in several paces, and the dramatic guitar chop from the middle of `Astronomy Dominie' which is used as a sound effect at the end of each episode.

Some tracks are cleverly used to accompany the action on screen so that the Moody Blues' `Dr Livingston I Presume' with its `we're all looking for someone' lyric features during search sequences, Cream's `Passing The Time' is heard during a somewhat boring trip to The British Museum and Roger Water's `Corporal Clegg' accompanies some Sergeant Pepper-esque soldiers marching in Hyde Park. Also the closing titles utilised the dramatic, building drum and piano part from Floyd's `A Saucerful Of Secrets', a title which summed up the whole concept of the show. Along for the ride are The Stones' `She's A Rainbow', Petula Clark's `Don't Give Up', which seems to have strayed in from another programme, and most cheekily the Trex album track `Child Star' (the Tyrant King of the title turns out to be the Natural History Museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex). Snatches of ancient oriental and classical music are thrown in for good measure which sit well alongside the pop sounds.

Thames' next excursion into teen fantasy drama was another Trevor Preston creation Ace Of Wands, which boasted a superb theme song by Andy Bown (`Tarot `). No Tyrant King soundtrack album was produced which is a great pity because it would no doubt have been very collectable with so many big names involved. But buy the DVD and enjoy this rare beast, I promise you won't be disappointed.

One small gripe: I am not in love with Network's new budget style packaging which has reduced the DVD shell case to the size of a CD causing it to look like a poor relation alongside other titles and there is no background information or any production notes included, surely essential with such a rare cult series as The Tyrant King.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2012 1:02 PM BST


Tony Blackburn Poptastic!: My Life in Radio
Tony Blackburn Poptastic!: My Life in Radio
by Tony Blackburn
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining - for all the wrong reasons!, 4 July 2011
This book is a fascinating read albeit for all the wrong reasons. It has clearly been ghost written by someone who knows nothing about Tony Blackburn and has had little or no access to any memorabilia or personal information. All the entries about fellow Radio One deejays and pop stars/celebrities contain information that anyone would know or could easily look up on the internet in a few minutes. For example did you know that Jimmy Savile has dyed blond hair and wears chunky gold jewelry? That's about the extent of Tone's apparent knowledge or interest. Where's the fascinating celebrity gossip? Where's the behind-the-scenes stories about the other deejays and pop singers he worked with at Radio One and on Top Of The pops? Sadly they just aren't there.

One glance at the index tells you all you need to know because each entry lists one page reference per entry, so there are no lengthy stories about John Peel, Dave Lee Travis, Kenny Everett or whoever but just miserable little references to the tired and obvious. And on the few occasions that he does tell you something you might not know it was to be mean to someone with personal insults or petty jealousies (eg calling Dave Cash a Walter Mitty fantasist or telling Simon Dee he was unprofessional).

But having said that the book is a fascinating read simply because it is so awful. I just couldn't wait to see who he would slag off next and if you get bored you can always play spot the Gary Glitter reference (Tone's answer to the Gary Glitter radio embargo? - Get someone else to record his songs!). And there are some great photographs including the one and only reference to Jonathan King where he is described as a "disgraced pop mogul".

While Tone's tome is available at a bargain price grab it while you can and have a good laugh.


One Foot in the Grave Complete Series 1 - 6 Plus Christmas Specials Box Set [DVD] [1990]
One Foot in the Grave Complete Series 1 - 6 Plus Christmas Specials Box Set [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Richard Wilson
Price: £20.33

180 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't believe it! Every episode of One Foot In The Grave!, 8 Dec. 2010
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This superb box set contains 12 discs and features every episode of the show including the Christmas Specials and a few documentaries. For the benefit of any potential buyers these are what the 12 discs contain:

Disc 1: Series 1 (6 episodes) plus featurette Britain's Best Sitcom.

Discs 2 and 3: Series 2 (6 episodes) plus 1990 Christmas Special 'Who's Listening'.

Discs 4 and 5: Series 3 (6 episodes) plus 1991 Christmas Special 'The Man In The Long Black Coat' and commentary on episode 'The Beast In The Cage'

Discs 6 and 7: Series 4 (6 episodes) plus 1993 Christmas Special 'One Foot In The Algarve' and commentary on episode 'Hearts Of Darkness'.

Discs 8 and 9: Series 5 (6 episodes) plus 1995 Christmas Special 'Wisdom Of The Witch' and commentary on 'The Man Who Blew Away'

Discs 10 and 11: Series 6 (6 episodes) plus documentary 'The Story Of One Foot In The Grave', featurette 'Killing Victor' and commentary on episode 'The Execution's Song'.

Disc 12: 1996 Christmas Special 'Starbound' and 1996 Christmas special 'Endgame'.

What's missing are the two short Comic Relief sketches from 1993 and 2001.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2014 5:18 PM GMT


Enid Blyton's The Famous Five - Five Have A Mystery To Solve (Black & White) [DVD]
Enid Blyton's The Famous Five - Five Have A Mystery To Solve (Black & White) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Balfour
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £8.39

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film serilalisation - in many ways better than the book, 11 Nov. 2010
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Having seen the 1970s and 1990s dramatisations of Enild Blyton's Famous Five books I was a bit aprehensive about seeing this which is one of my favourite FF stories. But I neededn't have worried. It is a superb serialisation, well directed with good locations, a fine cast (especially Michael Wennick as Wilfred) and a nice music score.
There are a few alterations from the book but in many ways this improves the story. And being made in black and white in the era the books were written it has a nice nostalgic feel which is missing from the later dramatisations.
The only gripe is that a lot of the material in the accompanying booklet is the same as the one for Five On A Treasure Island and there are no extras on the DVD. And there is a small mistake in the production notes, the location of the exteriors of Blaize Castle is actually Hilfield Castle in Aldenham, very close to the film studios in Bushey, Hertfordshire where it was made, and not near Maidenhead as lmentioned in the booklet.


Here Come The Double Deckers [DVD] [1971]
Here Come The Double Deckers [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Peter Firth
Offered by ludovico_institute
Price: £10.00

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get on board this DVD for hours of memorable slapstick fun! "Ring the bell, sound the horn"!, 1 Nov. 2010
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Created by Glyn Jones in 1970 and loosely based on the 1930s film serial Our Gang (AKA The Little Rascals) The Double Deckers, or Here Come The Double Deckers to give its full title, is a kids comedy and music show that will have stayed in the minds of any one of a certain age who watched it when it was originally shown in January 1971 and then repeated every summer on BBC TV until at least 1978.

Originally 26 episodes of the show had been commissioned to be followed by further series, but production stopped after just 17 episodes and no further shows were made. The reason for the this has never been fully explained because the show was an immediate hit on both sides of the Atlantic (it was partly funded by an American production company). The show is about a gang of seven children whose HQ is a customised red London Routemaster bus in a scrap yard in London's East End. Each week they get involved in a different adventure be it making a film, raising money for guide dogs for the blind, doing a spot of painting and decorating, going camping or visiting a country mansion and finding lost treasure. Along for the ride was their adult pal Albert (Melvyn Hayes) who more often than not ended up as the butt of their jokes.

Everyone will have their favourite episode. Mine is 'The Pop Singer' where they become pop moguls and help guest star Anthony May become his alter ego The Cool Cavalier. But all the shows are highly memorable and once you start watching you won't want to stop. The young cast including Peter Firth, Gillian Bailey and Brinsley Forde are all excellent and also appearing are a stellar line up of guest stars including Clive Dunn, Pat Combs, Roy Kinnear, Jack Haig, David Lodge, Frank Thornton George Woodbridge, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Liz Fraser, Julian Orchard, Jane Seymour, Michael Sharvell-Martin, Graham Stark and Sam Kydd.

The bonus features are not plentiful but are very welcome being an interview of memories of making the show by two of its stars, Brinsley Forde (who played Spring) and Michael Audreson (Brains). The soundtrack album has already been released on CD and so now with this DVD you have no excuse but to "get on board for fun and laughter".
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2012 11:22 AM BST


Love's A Luxury / What A Carry On [DVD]
Love's A Luxury / What A Carry On [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Wakefield
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good value DVD with two interesting comedies, 1 Jan. 2010
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I bought this DVD in order to see What A Carry On!, one of two films starring northern comedy duo Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss. Here the decide to enlist in the Army for no good reason other than to send up the Armed Forces.

Of the two Jewel and Warriss titles (the other is Stick 'Em Up avaialbe as a double bill with The Penny Pool) this is the better, and shows off their act to good advantage, especially when in the company of their Sergeant-major played by singer Josef Locke.

However the comedy is put on hold when they introduce a plot about some missing money which doesn't even make sense - the culprit is proven to be the Sergeant-major who bizarrely is then allowed to carry on doing his job even though he is under arrest!

So one for Jewel and Warriss fans only. The only problem is the quality of the print which is so badly cut up in some parts the dialogue is almost unintelligible. But it is the only known print so there's no choice but at least some record of Jewel and Warriss at their peak has survived.

The second film in this double bill is Love's A Luxury which was made at the same studios (The Mancurian Film Studios). It is an pleasant but over-long farce based on a successful stage play starring Derek Bond, Michael Medwin and Leslie Phillips precursor Bill Shine.


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