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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best
The Glittering Prizes comes from a golden age of television, when the BBC made British dramas for British audiences rather than overblown costume nonsense for international consumption. This six part serial is television for grownups with realistic characters speaking witty and intelligent dialogue in recognisable situations. The story, or rather stories follow a group of...
Published on 30 Aug. 2010 by Cowboy Buddha

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Burner
This series is a curious mix: it purports to follow the fortunes of some Cambridge graduates over the years, but the thread doesn't quite run through the series, in fact rather than following the same characters the people in question rather dip in and out of the six episodes and it all becomes rather loose and unconnected as a series.

As a collection of...
Published 16 months ago by D. Sedgwick


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best, 30 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The Glittering Prizes comes from a golden age of television, when the BBC made British dramas for British audiences rather than overblown costume nonsense for international consumption. This six part serial is television for grownups with realistic characters speaking witty and intelligent dialogue in recognisable situations. The story, or rather stories follow a group of bright young things from their days at Cambridge in the early 1950s to success, failure, or merely resignation in the mid 1970s. Along the way, we get to know them all and perhaps even learn a thing or two about ourselves.

The production is first-rate and the acting uniformly excellent, but the heart and soul of The Glittering Prizes are its scripts, the product of novelist and screenwriter Frederic Raphael. Anyone who has ever seen the films Darling or Two For The Road will immediately recognise his style. Always articulate and revealing, sometimes cynical, occasionally hopeful, quite often so truthful that it hurts - the sort of drama you find yourself thinking about for days or weeks (or even years) afterwards.

Raphael has always said that the main character of Adam Morris, brilliantly played by Tom Conti, is not autobiographical but the facts and similarities suggest otherwise. At first, we expect this entire series to be his story, but soon a fascinating array of characters slink their way onto center stage. In fact, Conti's character only appears at the very end of Part Two and is not in Parts Four and Five at all. This is very much an ensemble piece with each episode a kind of self-contained play, but one that is enriched by what we learn from the others. Some characters are clearly meant to be admired while others are just as obviously intended to be despised. But most are neither one or the other, but a mix of both, just like real people. And each viewer will respond to them in their own way. As I said, all the acting is superb and it is interesting to see some now well-known performers in early roles. Everyone will have their own favourites - one of mine is Angela Down as Joyce, if only for her delicious voice.

With so many highs, it is perhaps to be expected that the series hits an occasional weak point. The most obvious of these is in Part Three when Adam (on behalf of the BBC) goes to interview a notorious British supporter of fascism. While providing the opportunity for a powerhouse performance by Eric Porter, the sequence sits uneasily with the tone of the rest of the series and goes on for far too long. It is uncomfortable to watch (and was probably inteded to be) but adds little to the whole. Raphael dealt with many other issues - race, homosexuality, the media, his own Jewishness - much more effectively and succinctly than this episode. It's a relief (and a delight) for Adam to get back to London and to get involved with the film industry, for whom Raphael's wit is extra sharp. In one of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel films, Antoine's wife tells him that he cannot get revenge on people from his past by making them characters in his books. Raphael seems to have disproved that theory.

It's wonderful to finally have The Glittering Prizes on DVD, even if it is only available on Region 1. It looks only slightly worse for wear (there is an onscreen apology for a particularly bad blip in Part One, fortunately not during a crucial scene). The running time of 80 minutes per episode still seems a bit strange. And the old BBC habit of using film for exterior shots and video for interiors is much more noticeable than it used to be. But at least the series is preserved and available for repeated viewings. I can recommend The Glittering Prizes to anyone who enjoys well-written, beautifully acted, subtly staged drama that never once insults or underestimates the intelligence of its audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glittering Production., 1 Oct. 2014
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
An astonishing and sophisticated series which demonstrates what the BBC could once achieve at its very best. Brilliantly cast and directed, Fredrick Raphael's glittering script contains both biting irony and emotionally involving action of the highest order. The transfer is uniformally excellent with just the occasional blip that shows how long ago it was actually filmed. Produced by the wonderful Mark Shivas you really don't see many productions of such quality anymore. No, it's not a blood soaked saga or a police thriller filled with rotting corpses - or life on a London council estate. What you get is a sophisticated and very challenging drama of ideas, morals, and social prejudice that isn't easily forgotten.Yes- it is very middle-class and all the more enjoyable for that!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes me right back, 10 April 2012
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
First watched this when still at school. Loved it then, no less now. Great Easter indulgence: wet afternoon viewing for 6 days.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Burner, 6 Nov. 2013
By 
D. Sedgwick "DSedgwick" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This series is a curious mix: it purports to follow the fortunes of some Cambridge graduates over the years, but the thread doesn't quite run through the series, in fact rather than following the same characters the people in question rather dip in and out of the six episodes and it all becomes rather loose and unconnected as a series.

As a collection of individual telly plays the series is somewhat more successful - although the first two episodes meander around endlessly and are the least successful of the six episodes. Episodes three and six for my money are the best episodes creating some rather interesting dynamics between the characters.

If you're looking for action and plot then this will not be for you - it's all about character dynamics and hence it is unashamedly rather wordy and heavy on dialogue - no bad thing in these days of ultra fast scenes and emphasis on action. This drama would not even get commissioned these days - it builds momentum slowly and really allows us to know the people it portrays. It's also concerned with certain issues which are dramatised with varying levels of success through its characters.

Overall a thoughtful series of one off dramas only loosely connected through the Cambridge connection - The Tom Conti character is the most memorable one simply for the smugness and irritating jewishness portrayed - the character really rankles which is a measure of the skill of the acting and the writing of this particular character. Worth sticking with if only to witness a Richard Burtonesque performance in episode six from Dinsdale Landen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Memory Lane, 17 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Brings back happy memories of watching this series in the '70s and first enjoyed Tom Conti's acting. Arrived promptly and well packaged. Thank you. Margaret.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lost World, 3 Feb. 2014
By 
Alfa (Canterbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The lost world of Atlee's meritocracy. In Finland people born to the bottom 10% of society's earners have the same chance of ending up in the top 10% as everyone else. That's what Atlee wanted. Education is how you make a fair society and this insightful series made in the 70's shows you where it all started to go wrong. See also The History Man, and A Very Peculiar Practice.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watchable but slow-paced for much of today's audience, 29 Dec. 2009
By 
Gavin Wilson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the six episodes of this series. The links to Cambridge are tenuous at times -- it's more like a collection of six individual 'Play for Today's in which some of the same characters reappear.

I just missed the series when it was first shown in 1976, went to Oxbridge myself, then read Raphael's novel, which I now realise had a greater consistency than the TV programmes. (In the accompanying documentary, Raphael seems pompous indeed. He focuses more on philosophy than I expected.)

The BBC make-up department has a tough job depicting Conti and his colleagues as Cambridge students in the early 1950s then middle-aged people in 1976. The dialogue is theatrical rather than realistic.

It's good to see actors that I would later know as Zaphod Beeblebrox (he actually quotes the number 42 in episode 6!) and the Snow Queen from the 1980s BBC production of Narnia.

Sound and picture quality, apart from the glitch in Episode 1, is pretty good. More is done in a studio than would be done today, so the background silence seems unrealistic.

I watched to the end, but I didn't feel I gained much insight into mankind or the Cambridge experience as a result.
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4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is my refund?, 9 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Glittering Prizes [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Product was sent from UK seller but was for USA only. Returned immediately but no refund .HELP.Thanks
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