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on 15 January 2008
Bouquet of Barbed Wire was one of the most talked programmes of the 1970s. This was no mean feat in itself as this was a decade that produced television that challenged and entertained to a higher standard than any other decade before or since.

The subject of the programme was controversial enough, based on the apparently incestuous relationship between Peter Manson, a well to do publisher and Prue, his slightly wayward and spoilt daughter who falls pregnant and marries Gavin, an impoverished student.

The first couple of episodes introduce us to the world of the Manson family and those linked to them through marriage or work. As a result these episodes are something of a drag apart from a skirmish between Peter and Gavin that illustrates their mutual contempt for one another. Only when Peter embarks on an affair with Sarah, his recently appointed secretary, do the sparks begin to fly and the unravelling process of an eminently respectable Surrey family begins.

Without wishing to spoil what happens, the programme contains some intense performances from all concerned and some wonderful twists and turns in the storyline that leads to an ending that can truly be described as dramatic.

Such was the popularity of Bouquet of Barbed Wire that it led to a sequel that dealt with the aftermath of what happened at the end of the original series. Despite Another Bouquet featuring the original cast (and thankfully the original actors too) it was always going to be something of an anti-climax, but it was still pulsating to watch with the same strong performances plus some welcome light relief courtesy of Philip Madoc. It also ties up a lot of loose ends following the end of Bouquet of Barbed Wire, with each of the main characters appearing to come to terms with what had happened and move on, although one cliff-hanger does remain at the end.

The fact that both series are now available on one DVD set means that this is a chance to see what all the fuss was about and wonder why television does not make programmes of this calibre anymore.
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on 26 January 2010
Deemed too young to watch the steamy goings on in this classic 70's serial when it was originally aired, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about now I'm an adult. I'd always remembered Dennis Farnon's theme music though; a doleful tune on electric piano and flute that seemed to encapsulate perfectly the joys and agonies of the mysterious sexual shenanigans of Grown-ups. Now I'm a Grown-up myself, I'm not sure if this strange drama is a masterpiece or trashy nonsense. It's certainly compelling; the family dinner scene that starts the spiral into destruction is one of the only times I've literally fallen off my chair whilst watching TV.

I should describe the plot but I'm not sure where to start. The story centres on a middle-class suburban family. The Father and his 19 year old Daughter appear to have an unhealthy obsession with each other. Most articles tend to focus on the Father's interest, but after watching the series there's no doubt in my mind that the writer (Andrea Newman), meant us to understand that the Daughter's feelings are just as strong, and this rather icky relationship could have been consummated if the right circumstances arose. Fortunately, they don't, although I bet the new remake planned this year won't be quite so squeamish in these new broad-minded times. Revelations of his daughter's promiscuity and resultant pregnancy (and eventual marriage), cause the Father to embark on an affair with his secretary, whom, we are lead to believe, reminds him of his daughter. Things start to go wrong here though, as pretty as both these young women are, I'm not convinced that a tall, green-eyed blonde with an ambitious and independent nature, could be a substitute for a petite, brown-eyed brunette who is spoilt and lazy. Things get a fair sight worse though, when we discover that both Mother and Daughter enjoy a bit of slap with their tickle, and the script informs us with alarming authority that "most women like to be treated roughly", even suggesting that these tendencies are hereditary. Wow, we really are back in the seventies - and yes, Andrea Newman is a woman apparently. Factor in some rather naive spoken "thought-overs", and you sometimes feel like you're watching a train-wreck.

So why recommend watching it? Well, for a start there are some very subtle characters brought to life here, and all are engaging to watch as they struggle with their demons and display complex and differing ideas of right and wrong. Just like real people in fact. There's certainly some very raw areas explored too, particularly the idea that friendship and love in all its forms is likely to become physical if allowed to get out of hand. You also have some extremely strong performances by an excellent cast, and production values are higher than usual for a TV program of the time. In general, it is a unique viewing experience if nothing else.

The DVD release is a mixed bag. Video quality is pretty good, although the outdoor shots during the first few minutes are a little dark and grubby. I've no doubt though that with the superior definition of DVD and modern televisions this will look much better than when it was originally broadcast. Sound quality is strong too, with clear dialogue, although there is a bit of background hiss if you listen for it. There are no extras though, not even subtitles. I would have thought this groundbreaking serial might have merited a little featurette with contributions from the cast. Now, that would have been interesting.
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on 7 February 2009
Don't let reading the synopsis about the contoversial issue of incest put you off watching these films . The script is thoughtful and the result is not as controversial as one may be led to believe.I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by an engrossing fim.
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on 10 November 2009
I remembered this series from when it was first shown on TV, I have the books which I frequently reread. I have wanted to see the TV show again for a long time and it was treat to find it available. Unfortunately, although the story is still riveting, the series is dated and indulgent now, and hasn't "aged" well. I found myself getting very frustrated with the characters. It's great to have seen it again but I don't think it will be regular wet Sunday viewing.
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on 10 March 2016
Brilliant series. Very theatrical. Fantastic actors. You can't get better than this drama. A class of it's own to the very end.
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on 23 April 2013
I have watched this 10-20 time and still have not got bored.My wife loves the Womens angle. the acting is superb
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on 23 September 2009
This is worth watching, but it scores many points for its real 'laugh out loud' out-of-dateness. That Prue was having sex before marriage is a major issue in the first series, but thankfully she marries the man who gets her pregnant! Of other interest is the pace and direction of the two series - you won't see anything so slow and uneventful made today, more's the pity. But the big issue for me with both series is how a successful drama managed to make all its key characters so horrible - I had no sympathy for any of them and could have cheerfully belted the lot. Frank Finlay's character Peter Manson won the award for hypocrisy and wanting his cake and to eat it, too, however.
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on 2 January 2013
Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Good drama in such way nobody does it anymore. Gives historical perspective into our times now.
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on 8 February 2009
excellent series from the 1970s, it had an impact on its audience at the time, now it is nostalgia
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on 26 August 2014
Complex drama
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