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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 13 August 2010
I had given up that this amazing and unique series, would EVER be released on DVD. I remember watching when it was originally shown on Channel 4 in the early 90s; it was so different and I was immediately hooked. I had some episodes on VHS, but they died many years ago, so I am delighted to see a DVD release on the way, so I can enjoy it all over again.

The series is set in the mid-1950s during the Suez crisis. The story revolves around Mick Hopper (played by Ewan McGregor in his first major role), a young man who is doing his national service in a Whitehall military office. Hopper has a habit of day dreaming when he's supposed to be translating Russian military documents and as his mind drifts off, he amuses himself by imagining his colleagues breaking into song in surreal fantasy sequences, lip synching along to popular songs of the time. These segments work really well and are great fun to watch. There are many fantastic characters of note, great music, great costumes and atmospheric sets. The cast is faultless. Apart from McGregor, Giles Thomas, Louise Germaine and Douglas Henshall as the main characters, look out for memorable performances from the likes of Roy Hudd, Maggie Steed and Bernard Hill.

The series was written by the great Dennis Potter and was his last production before he died in 1994. Potter himself did national service during the 1950s.

Highly recommended!!
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on 11 August 2010
Finally! One of the best Potter series ever made and it is now on DVD. I watch this back in 1993 and I guess I was maybe a bit too young. However, since then I've had this on a beat up old VHS personal recording, from the original Channel 4 broadcast. And it's almost dead, now I get to have a shiny DVD.
This show was so out there even for 1993. The winged naked girl with the phallic snake is cringeworthy and yet rather funny. And watching the entire cast burst into song at any given moment is like Bollywood set in 50s England.
Not only is the show fantastic to watch, the music is great to, songs like; Earth Angel and of course lipstick on your collar by Connie Francis. I guarantee if you are Potter fan you'll love this.
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on 4 September 2003
A great series that I always used to rush home for. I never really got into the "singing detective" but I really enjoyed this. The ensemble cast gives great performances with some very good singing from ecceleston> Roy hudd never fails to give of his very best in every role he does. Captivating fantasy sequences with superb colour reproduction on every scene. Top this off with a dennis Potter script and you know you're in for treat. Get in the popcorn and Beer and settle down for a real treat!.
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on 15 November 2007
I agree with the last reviewer. This is a series which I made a point of watching. The faultless cast includes a young Ewan McGregor and the excellent Roy Hudd. It must be over 10 years since I've seen it and I'd like to watch it again. Shame there is no DVD release as yet.
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on 17 September 2010
So happy this has finally been given a DVD release, I still have it on double VHS and had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing it re-released.

I am a massive fan of Dennis Potters work and I would put this right up there with The Singing Detective, if you have never seen it buy it now!
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on 26 November 2010
Whilst I wholly agree with the sentiments expressed in other reviews regarding the excellence of this production I was disappointed by the quality of transfer to DVD. The obvious flickering at the bottom of the picture infers that this may have been copied from a VHS video source. There are black bars on both sides of the 4:3 aspect ratio making it look a little thin. The amount of grain in episode 2 is so high that parts of the picture appear as very 'blocky'. Whilst the DVD seems authentic enough with its copyright protection, it is certainly clear that there has been no cleaning up of the picture quality at all and I'm left wondering as to what 'source' was actually used for production of this DVD. Shame.
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First shown in 1993, a typically provocative Dennis Potter offering evocatively set in 1956. Three new to the screen make their presence greatly felt: Giles Thomas as accident prone Private Francis; Louise Germaine as glamorous cinema usherette Sylvia; Ewan McGregor as Private Mick Hopper - his career given an extra boost in the same year's "Scarlet and Black".

Change is in the air. Potter devastatingly indicates why. The Suez fiasco exposes massive incompetence at the top, the War Office's Intelligence Department showing little sign of any (such failings disconcertingly based on Potter's actual experiences). Meanwhile the younger generation is making its presence felt, Rock 'n' Roll sweeping away much that was stodge. Soon to go are the bowler hats, rolled umbrellas, standing to attention as the National Anthem closes down the BBC for the night. The country is pulsating with new attitudes.

Over twenty years have passed, but this series remains fresh, alive and extremely challenging. I had forgotten how funny it was, especially when characters suddenly break into song and dance, miming (often ironically) to hit numbers of the time.

A fine cast, some involved in antics that may surprise - including Roy Hudd as a sleazy cinema organist. Everywhere there is evidence of a craftsman at work, the telephone storyline in Episode 3 especially to be savoured.

Bonuses include a chance to see again all the music numbers.

Yes, still this production represents a breath of fresh air, penned by one incapable of producing anything bland.

Recommended to all who are not easily offended.
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on 2 December 2011
This is a brilliant teleplay, its fun and liveliness making it definitely one of Dennis Potter's more accessible. It lacks the misanthropic loathing of humanity that informs so much of his work, making it more of a vibrant romp than, say, Pennies From Heaven or The Singing Detective. Ewan MacGregor is as charming as you could want him to be, and the musical numbers seem to make more sense here than in some of Potter's other works. We still have the insistence that popular music drives our lives and our reactions to events--here the argument is between MacGregor's character and the American girl who captivates him; secondary characters are more nuanced than in other Potter plays, and we don't have quite the feeling that each person is completely isolated from the rest of the world. Many, if not most, of the characters have some redeeming quality--even the brutal and abusive Pete shows an almost redemptive human side. Yet, while not completely isolated, we still see the inability people have to truly connect with one another, and the disappointing tendency we have of projecting our ideals onto people who never entirely merit the golden light we cast them in. Thus we have, ultimately, another heartbreaking glimpse into Potter's all-too-apt appraisal of humanity; this one just doesn't leave us quite so raw and bleeding as others do.
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on 19 December 2015
A must have very entertaining story of National Service life in the Intelligence Corps at the war office.. You'll scream with laughter Ewan McGregor's fantasies brilliantly come to life at his desk as a language clerk. I watch it over and over again.Everything written by Dennis Potter will keep you glued to your TV.
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on 9 May 2013
The program would get a 5 star rating but the DVD quality is spoilt by constant skipping or jumping. The picture instead of being flowing is stilted as though it is time lapse. Enjoying the program though in spite of the flaw. The series is very hard to aquire so not complaining too much.
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