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4.8 out of 5 stars
Secret Army - The Complete BBC Series 1, 2 & 3 [DVD]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2013
I too am one of those who consider this to be the best ever drama from the BBC; intelligent script writing, great location filming and wonderful acting with believable characters. The individual stories are mostly very good, often with high tension and drama. Technically, although a 70s production along with values of the era, it has stood the test of time well and I have been surprised how well the colour has held up (possibly with a little help from the dvd player/tv wizardry).

I bought the complete series several years ago and have watched it at least once a year ever since, along with Andy Priestner's companion book, which fills in all the detail one could possibly want.

I am pleased to see that the price has dropped considerably and hope it will make it a more attractive proposition to those who are considering purchasing the series - even at the previous higher price it was worth every penny. It really does deserve much more recognition than was ever afforded by the BBC.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I happened to see a recent broadcast on satellite TV which whet my appetite to revisit this atmospheric series which I think is one of the best ever wartime serials.

Secret Army was filmed in the UK and Belgium and three series (comprising 43 episodes) were broadcast on BBC1 between early 1977 and late 1979. Created by Gerard Glaister (also responsible for the Colditz series) Secret Army tells the story of the Belgian resistance movement during the Second World War dedicated to repatriating Allied airmen, usually having been shot down by the Luftwaffe. This boxed set of 12 DVDs runs for about 40 hours and contains a number of extras such as cast interviews and is very well presented. Audio and visual quality is good considering the vintage of the episodes.

To me, one of the selling points of the series is that whilst each episode is a self contained story they also link together and this adds to the compulsion to see how the overall plot unfolds. I think the acting is very good, there's plenty of tension and atmosphere, and, I believe a lot of effort was invested in historical authenticity. This latter point also makes the series a fitting tribute to those involved in the sort of operations portrayed. The overall "hue" of all the episodes is "dark and dangerous" and full of suspense.

For a series of this vintage the cost of this boxed set does seem high, but then perhaps that is a reflection of the sustained interest there is in the series and its enduring quality.

I think even if it's your "first time round" and you haven't seen Secret Army before you'll be riveted by this set which makes it a worthwhile investment. Also, out of interest, there is a book "The Complete Secret Army: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Classic TV Drama Series" by Andy Priestner which gives a further fascinating insight into the world of Secret Army. Running to over 600 pages the book has been described as "the Secret Army Lover's Bible".

This boxed DVD set, although expensive, is one of TV's truly classic drama series and well worth buying. I'm confident you'll watch it many times over the years. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2013
This drama represents the BBC at their peak. The script, storylines, character definition and acting are close to superb. It covers some very serious issues in occupied Europe during WW2 - there is very little to laugh at and rightly so. The language used can be quite intellectual and you have to listen avidly all of the time to get the most from viewing but it is more than worth it.

Kessler, the gustapo officer, played by Clifford Rose is the character I liked best. Obviously many more people thought that too as a spin off mini series "Kessler" followed after Secret Army.
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What can I say about Secret Army that hasn't been said before? This was a truly outstanding and superb offering from the BBC in the later 1970s and ran over three series. It details the experiences of a Belgian resistance group in World War 2 under the German invaders and covers the entire war period. The real star of the show is Bernard Hepton (from the BBC's also outstanding "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Colditz") as Albert Foiret the owner of a Belgian Cafe (being Belgian think more "bar" than the English "all day breakfast" type of cafe), Jan Francis (in my opinion Secret Army was her "crowning glory", certainly miles better than the atrocious "Just Good Friends" to come next from her) as Lisa Colbert and Angela Richards as Monique Duchamps. Together (with some other characters I haven't mentioned!) they are "Lifeline" an organisation that helps Allied aircrew to evade capture and return to Britain via neutral countries such as Switzerland or Spain.

The general "plot" of the three series is obviously how they help allied airmen escape capture and return to England and so on. There are also various other plot "elements. Albert's wife is an invalid and you only ever see her in her bedroom. Monique is Albert's mistress. Any of this sounding familiar? Yes, it was the inspiration for the BBC's later comedy series of 'Allo 'Allo, however, there's nothing in the remotest funny about Secret Army.

Among the German characters Michael Culver stars as Luftwaffe Major Erwin Brandt and Clifford Rose as SS Sturmbannführer (roughly equivalent to Major" Ludwig Kessler (another plot would later see a Belgian woman becoming his Mistress and them falling in love.) Although the Luftwaffe are deemed to be "officially" responsible for the capture and imprisonment of shot down allied airmen Kessler frequently usurps Brandt's command and takes matters into his own hands; this effectively showing the differences between the general German military (Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe etc.) and the para military "Nazi" organisations such as the SS and the Gestapo and the differing ways in which they "dealt with" things. You have to remember that most German soldiers and/or airmen were just "ordinary blokes" and much as the same as their allied equivalents, acting honourably (well as much as one can in war I guess) as oppose to the brutality of the SS and Gestapo.

Of course in the 1970s I was but a young lad and to be honest totally and utterly uninterested in such TV programmes as Secret Army (or the other things my mother religiously watched such as Upstairs Downstairs, The Duchess Of Duke Street and so on.) But as I came to the end of secondary school I became incredibly interested in 20th century and “devoured” such series as these and the books many of them were based on, an interest I still have to this day. I have of course re-watched them all again since they came to DVD (well with the exception of Duchess Of Duke Street) and can appreciate series like Secret Army for just how good they were then as well how good they still are.

One other things there is also a follow up series to Secret Army called Kessler and how he “fared” after the war, but I can’t comment on it as I haven’t got round to seeing it, just making you all aware.
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on 15 April 2014
I watched the 3 series as a child in the late 70s on tv and utterly enjoyed the BBC drama
However it was only by accident I watched a episode as a adult on satelite that I came to appreciate how well made it was.
The Complete BBC Series 1,2,&3 is highly recommended and worth it.

The plot revolves around "Lifeline" which is an evasion line for downed airmen run by Lisa who is scarred by the death of her parents and wants to defeat the Nazis.She is portrayed as ruthless and willing to take hard decisions for the greater good.An especially dark episode ends with the Candide owner,Albert,giving up two allied airmen to certain death in order to protect the line.

This is brilliant,well thought out drama and very thought provoking

It is set in the Second World War but is far from the stereotypical wartime drama.The heroes are flawed and the Germans shown in a more realistic light.The Kessler character could be seen by some as a trajectory,but can people who order mass murder at the drop of a hat be portrayed sympathetically? Both the Luftwaffe officers are shown to be ordinary people stuck in an extraordinary situation,and the contempt that Brandt has for his Gestapo superior is cleverly and subtlety done.

There is a myth that telly was better in the 70's. It wasn't. It was mostly terrible, but with the odd absolute gem such as this. Its is very well acted. The character actors seemed so authentic especially Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton), Monique Duchamps (Angela Richards) & Gestapo Sturmbannführer Ludwig Kessler (Clifford Rose) and Luftwaffe Major Brandt (Michael Culver).

Its well well worth it. You wont be disappointed.
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on 14 February 2014
My partner and I have just (reluctantly) watched the last episode of this series. I say reluctantly because watching the last episode we knew it had come to an end!
There is so much to commend about it.
Not having the benefit of CGI or advanced filming techniques it looks old fashioned. But that's what it's all about. It's possible that it's better watching it now than when it was being originally transmitted.
The story telling is magnificent and high praise go to the various writers.
The production values are excellent - indoor scenes especially.
But for us the best thing about this programme is the quality of acting.Without this the series would be just another TV show.
It's essentially an ensemble case but four actors stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
Two women and two men
Angela Richards plays Monique
Juliet Hammond Hill plays Natalie
Seperately they are mesmerising. Together the chemistry is unbelievable.
Clifford Rose as Kessler
Michael Culver as Brandt
The scenes together are a masterclass in acting
It seems churlish to have to bring up a tiny criticism! But, before I saw it, I thought that the last two episodes were too rushed and implausible. Watching the special extras afterwards where most of the principals are interviewed, Angela Richards said the same thing herself. But it IS only a very minor flaw and the conclusion was the only way to end it.
One last thing. One of the highlights of series two and three is the wonderful evocative voice of Angela Richards singing in the Candide. I read on the website for Secret Army that she recorded a CD of all the songs she sang in the cafe and managed to track a copy down. It's absolutely brilliant and she's written some of them herself. If you can get a copy you won't regret it.
We'll look forward to watching it all again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2014
For those who remember Secret Army's 1970's broadcast, it will bring back the happy memories of a quality TV drama. For those who are too young, it's a must see. Set in Belgium, it's a story of an escape line for British airmen during the 2nd world war. Although fiction, there is large amounts of storyline that are likely to have happened. You get the Belgium side of the war as well as the German's efforts to catch them. I am a massive fan, and recommend you should be too.
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on 30 July 2015
If you are always complaining there's nothing worth watching on TV, and you wonder what you're paying your BBC licence fee for, this DVD collection might just remind you what good value the fee once was. Unlike me, my wife didn't watch the series when it was originally shown on TV (she was only 6!) but she can't believe how good it is, bearing in mind it's almost 40 years old. The gripping story lines and excellent acting make for compulsive viewing. This was a big series in its day - there was even a section of the Imperial War Museum dedicated to it at the time. Once you've adjusting to the pace of the programme (there's no fancy camera work and not any incidental music - not until the second series at least) you find yourself being totally absorbed by the tales that unfold. It does take the first 2 or 3 episodes to really start to get into it but after that, we were hooked! If you like watching the old war films like 'Where Eagles Dare', full of surprises and twists and turns, you'll almost certainly love this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2013
I bought this boxed set as a present for my husband and he is totally captivated with it. He has not seen the series since it was first aired and there were many things he had forgotten but he is really enjoying the whole package
Anyone who loves social history set into an everyday context will love this.
Linda B
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2013
Wonderful background - fictionalised but so well acted and put about the resistance movement during the second world war and the risks so many took to help others. Tense moments at many points in trying to help British airmen get back home, matters not only complicated by the Gestapo and the Luftwafe but the communists.
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