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Melodrama at its best
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.