on 15 August 2011
Talking rocks, talking dogs, off the wall private inner thoughts. This has to be the archive release of the year. Network should be congratulated. A genuine long unseen classic that is up there with the best. Years ahead of its time. If you're a fan of classic British TV shows buy it before they all go. Extras include on set photos and five minutes of contemporary trailers that are as good as the six shows themselves. An explanatory booklet by Dick Fiddy is also included. The whole package - the cover, the booklet, the crisp clean 35mm transfer is first class. A real treat. Be prepared to be amazed, go on give it a try.
on 29 August 2011
Back in 1960, when the unknown David Bowie (nee Jones) was being awakened by Anthony Newley's seminal 'Strange World of Gurney Slade', another impressionable teenager was also glued to the same show on the family's Radio Rentals 16" Ferranti. It was me of course, and for both of us, this was the pistol shot that fired a new era of comedy out of the starting blocks. Like David Bowie, I never forgot the incredible surreal show that was Gurney Slade, and together with countless other devotees, the memory of it has been following us around for over fifty years. Apart from a 1963 re-run, only the first episode ever resurfaced in the new world - and that was too awful to watch in its various lo-res incarnations.
Now Network has delivered the TV Heaven package of all time in a fabulously restored six episode Gurney Slade DVD with extraordinary extras. Absolute full marks to Network for sourcing the original 35mm master, which literally glows with cameraman Donald Long's exquisite black & white photography. As an original captive of the show, I'm delighted to see new and future generations at last having access to Anthony Newley's magical masterclass. In particular, it'll be interesting for comedy historians to see how it influenced Tony Hancock's early 1960's `everyman' persona, as in for example 'The Blood Donor', and subsequently the Python era.
Those who have followed Newley's work will rightly consider him a posthumous national treasure, and his performance as Gurney Slade is as faultless as all his other brilliant performances from child star beginnings to Las Vegas headliner. Just prior to Gurney, Newley jump started his adulthood as a chart topping pop star with songs like `Why' and `Do You Mind'. These great tracks were gracing the nation's Dansette record players at the beginning of Newley's incredible career, and set him up as the next big thing that just never went away. His colossal body of work has rarely been equaled by a single British performer, and his legend is right up there with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward.
Watching Newley perform is like watching a ballet - every movement perfectly fluid and unselfconscious, and his dialogue appears to be picked fresh out of the air. Second only to Gurney Slade is Newley's Oscar deserving role in the movie 'The Small World of Sammy Lee', and for aficionados the newly released DVD of this unsung masterpiece should clearly be on their shopping list ('The London Box Set' - Optimum Home Releasing). For the moment though, if you ain't seen 'The Strange World of Gurney Slade' - click the Amazon `Buy Now' button, and prepare to enjoy your socks off!
Thanks again to Network for this incredible release, and a plea to bring us more of the same from this era. How about properly rescuing Merton Park Studios' 'Scotland Yard' / 'Scales of Justice' / 'Edgar Wallace' shorts? There's a salivating fan base out here eager for a proper restoration of these UK classics! Just asking.
Blimey! Network listens! No sooner said than done, the three classic British B movie series from Merton Park Studios as detailed above, are in their new release line up. Forget the gas bill, these absolutely have to be on one's Amazon shopping list!
Next up for Network? How about The 1957 BBC children's series 'The Silver Sword'? All seven episodes are currently languishing in the BFI vaults, being the only full children's TV series of the period to have survived.
on 24 August 2011
A MUST SEE. An early very surrealistic, funny and entertaining Anthony Newley. A TV series from the early 1960ies, in best Picture Quality, black/white.
This is a chance to rediscover the great Anthony Newley, one of Britains most creative and inovative Artists - terrible underrated and neglected (till today). He was not only a great actor, entertainer and composer, his work was always in front of its time and therefore mostly misunderstood and derided. Through his whole work he always dealed with surrealism - like here in "Gurney Slade", but also in his later works, like the undervalued " Can Heironymus Merkin ever forget Mercy Humppe and find true Happiness".
After so many years give Anthony Newley the recognition and appreciation he finally deserves !!
on 20 August 2011
Before 'Monty Python', before 'The Prisoner', before 'The Mighty Boosh', before anyone had even uttered the words 'alternative comedy' , there was the ground-breaking 'Strange World of Gurney Slade', baffling to some, but mesmerising to others. Way back in 1960, when I was a very young Anthony Newley fan indeed, and we didn't have what was called 'the commercial channel' on our TV, I caught a tantalising glimpse of this show and loved it. Fast forward to 1992, I saw a single screening of the first episode on British TV, and knew for certain this was a lost gem. Now, at last, the whole series is available on a beautifully restored DVD. Fantastic.
on 25 August 2011
Well,better late than never ! How to add to what earlier reviewers have already said? Newley had a scattergun genius that often needed the calming influence of a Leslie Bricusse to give it direction , but "Gurney Slade" is long overdue for massive public recognition. It was indeed ahead of it's time , something that Newley's work often suffered from,and a massive influence on many other artists.This is a golden opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.......don't miss it.
Trivia lovers will also be intrigued to see the galaxy of actors who went on to fame.......the likes of Geoffrey Palmer,Dilys Laye,Una Stubbs,Peter Glaze,Hugh Paddick,Graham Stark, and others. As Anneka Wills recently said at the National Film Theatre launch of the DVD.........."Tony will be sitting on his cloud tickled pink !"
on 21 August 2011
I had never heard of this, but the numerous reviews that heralded the release of this dvd intrigued me. As a fan of 50's and 60's British satire and comedy, I felt I had a duty to have a peek at this, and I am glad I decided to part with my money. There is a welcome whiff of the influence of Flann O'Brien in the surreal philosophising of Gurney Slade (whether this comedy was influenced by O'Brien, I've no idea), and the comedy is, for the most part, not overplayed, but subtle: there are laugh-out-loud moments, but this is a largely thoughtful, smile-inwardly, without being too smarty-pants, sort of thing. Think Hancock and the Goons having a baby, and you're getting near to what I am trying to describe, or maybe not. It's brilliant, funny, and sadly, there should have been more episodes made.
on 15 October 2011
Classic Telly, eh? Trouble with most British black and white shows is that they're on grainy films taken from the old 405 line system. Not Gurney Slade, though. For some strange reason they shot the whole thing on 35mm, even the trailers. Lew Grade must have been feeling especially generous. Either that or he was too busy counting his earnings to notice somebody spending a bit more of them than usual. Anyway, it means the show looks nice and sharp. I hear Network even made the DVDs from brand new prints. Pity about the crackly optical sound, but I suppose you can't have everything.
OK, so it looks good. What about the show? Is it really as funny as it thinks it is? Personally I found myself chuckling wryly rather than shaking with laughter, but on the whole I think it holds up pretty well. Some people have compared it to The Prisoner and Monty Python, but I think there's a lot of stuff here that wouldn't look out of place on The Twilight Zone. Especially the stuff about talking to animals and inanimate objects, the episode where Gurney finds lots of squatters inside his brain, and the end of the last episode, where Gurney realises what a dummy he's been.
The show obviously didn't catch on at the time, and the writers must have known it wasn't to everyone's taste when they wrote the episode where Gurney is put on trial for his life for allegedly not being funny. Ironically, that episode has one of the most genuinely funny endings in the entire series.
On the whole Network have done the series proud. The cover is nicely quirky, especially the back cover where almost everything except the barcode is printed backwards. (The ATV logo fooled 'em, though - that looks the same either way round). Inside, there's a nicely informative booklet about the making of the series and its critical (lack of) reception. The disc navigation is also eccentric, but it's not that hard to figure out - after all, there are only three menu options. The menu is even accompanied by a snatch of the theme tune, which is something Network don't always do. I would have liked the single version of Max Harris's theme tune to have been included as an extra, but once again you can't have everything. What you do get is a selection of trailers, which are every bit as weird as the series itself, and some slightly scratched publicity photos from the series (complete with a photo of the photo album!) and of Newley.
So, kudos to Network for rescuing yet another forgotten gem from the vaults, and long may they continue. Now if you'll excuse me, I think that lamppost wants a word with me.
on 1 October 2011
I read that this show did for sitcoms what The Prisoner did for drama, and it's quite right. It came before Marty Feldman, the Pythons or any of the inner toughts/surreal shows of the 60s and blazed a new path for them to follow. I have in image in my mind of Gurney looking at the then rule book for sitcoms with his hand to his mouth in a pondering way, tut tut tutting....... then tossing it over his shoulder and proceeding on with own way. Discovering this show is like discovering a lost relative. You meet them and it explains so many things you wondered had came from in your family , why uncle so and so used to do this or that, where that idea came from, why you don't like clowns etc. You can see how this great show influenced so many other shows that came after it. I wish that it was more than six episodes, but as a wise man said... something only has to happen once to change the world.
Buy this and you won't regret it, only that it has been neglected for too long.
on 2 September 2011
In 1960 I was a young man of 25 and already fed up with television entertainment and the continual " sensational" new programmes being shotgunned out at us on a weekly basis. So, I completely dismissed the publicity about the crazy new show. UNTIL my then-girlfriend ( bless her for it) dragged me home from a promising date to watch her "wonderful new programme". Result 1. She was afterwards left to wait while i followed each episode. Result2. The programme and the friendship ended. Result 3. Warm memories of both to this day. But I can now recover at least one; the other would require careful negociation with my wife.The Strange World of Gurney Slade [DVD]
on 4 May 2012
There's a difference between being brilliant and being brilliant in the modern world. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and appreciate what someone was doing at the time they were doing it, and note how many years ahead of themselves they actually were. Otherwise Neil Armstrong on the moon would be regarded as small fry compared to what has been achieved since re: Mars, Jupiter, the far end of the solar system and permanent space stations. But we all know he still achieved something incredible in 1969. This series, Gurney Slade, was simply years, perhaps decades, ahead of its time. In episode one alone, the character makes reference to his whole life being a TV show (decades later The Truman Show was apparently a novel idea) and 'big brother' watching him all the time (decades later....you get the picture - although I appreciate the book was written in 1948, the idea of a TV show wasn't). As with all ground-breaking ideas though, it was rough and ready and we can be oh-so-smug with 20-20 hindsight and point out where the flaws are today, but it still doesn't detract from the fact that this was new, innovative and cocking a snook at what had already become the 'old, tired format' of TV (even in its infancy) sitcom. Quite simply watch it to see what bravery is. A performer, a writing team and a TV production arm put their reputations on the line to show an apparent actor walking out of a stale old sitcom to find out that life can be far more surreal than that they are parodying on TV. He leaves the old world of comedy behind to try and discover something new. He finds that people are being affected by a plethora of outside influences and are dulling their own free will. He listens to thoughts instead of empty dialogue and reacts to what makes people tick rather than cliche ideas of such. It is almost TV/actor/comedy psychoanalysis. I have watched and learned. On the way, appreciating Newley's genius, Sid & Dick's brilliance and ATV's courage. I love it and am thrilled they have finally released the whole series on DVD. The booklet notes are also beautifully written.