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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle sail through the life of a steam puffer's crew
This is a superb sail down memory lane and a must for all lovers of things Scottish. Neil Munro's characters led by the wily skipper Para Handy take us on a voyage through the west highlands of Scotland during an age when life was so much simpler. Gentle humour marks this excellent compilation of three of the best known Vital Spark stories and is a must have for all...
Published on 28 Aug. 2001

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Dvd needs returning, as its faulty, wont even go to first track.
Published 8 months ago by R. W. Hughes


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle sail through the life of a steam puffer's crew, 28 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This is a superb sail down memory lane and a must for all lovers of things Scottish. Neil Munro's characters led by the wily skipper Para Handy take us on a voyage through the west highlands of Scotland during an age when life was so much simpler. Gentle humour marks this excellent compilation of three of the best known Vital Spark stories and is a must have for all fans of the series. Watch for the clergymen under the bunks and the runaway trolley on Arran. As Dougie might say - "chust sublime!"
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest Scottish sit-com ever?, 28 July 2006
By 
John Milne "Paranormalhandy" (Ayrshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Sadly, as mentioned by another reviewer, most of the "Master Mariner" and "Vital Spark" series (and all of their 1960s incarnations) no longer exist, wiped liked so many episodes of "Doctor Who", "Not Only But Also" and all of Alan Bennet's sketch show (indeed, criminal!) However, these five episodes that are left are uniformly brilliant - particularly the interplay between the crew members when they are below decks on the puffer, bickering and arguing with one another.

For modern tastes (and I'm a fan of such things as Nathan Barley and The Mighty Boosh) it may seem a little couthy, but it has its interplay firmly rooted in a great comic tradition - think Last of the Summer Wine mixed with Father Ted. The series returned in 1994, with a new cast and title, extended to 1 hour in length with the emphasis now on comic-drama rather than an ordinary sit-com, which gave the new series (this time with Gregor Fisher as the captain) a slightly diluted edge. It was possibly excellent Sunday night entertainment, but the slight surrealism of the original 1905 stories didn't lend themselves to that sort of comfort zone easily (having said that, I hope John Williams released the nine episodes from 1994 and 1995 soon too!)

101 years ago, with his short two-page stories about a group of four or five characters trapped in a situation they could not escape from (but which at the same time gave them great mobility), with a lead blind to his own short-comings and pomposity, Neil Munro created - arguably - a sit-com half a century before Bilko perfected the style. These 1970s shows pay due homage to a great Scottish (and world? Should be, but sadly isn't) institution.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital for your DVD collection, 8 Mar. 2006
By 
Angleterre (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
By Jove,eh...At last - this classic series gets a DVD release.These episodes are the colour remakes of the earlier black and white BBC Scotland series, broadcast in 1965/1967.This in turn had followed the 1959 series 'Para Handy,Master Mariner'(both the 1959 and 1965/67 series were [criminally!]wiped by BBC Scotland).The programme made a triumphant return with a one-off special in 1973,as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations at BBC Scotland.It proved so successful that a series was commissioned,broadcast in 1974.Again,BBC Scotland did not look after the archive and three episodes have been lost.

The 1965/67 series reunited many of the cast and crew from 1959,including Roddy McMillan('Dougie' in 1959,then 'Para Handy' in all subsequent series),John Grieve('MacPhail,throughout),and producer Pharic Maclaren.The 1959 series was written by Duncan Ross,whilst all subsequent episodes were written by Bill Craig - these colour episodes are essentially updated reworkings of the 1965/67 b/w episodes.

The only slight criticism of the DVD is that the episodes are presented out of order.The 50th anniversary special - 'The Wedding'(absolutely hilarious!!!) - comes after two of the 1974 episodes.This is probably beacause the DVD mirrors the 1980's VHS releases ('The Vital Spark'[BBCV 4167]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Smartest Boat in The Trade, 28 May 2010
By 
Alastair Smith "WEEMEENIT" (Port Mulgrave, North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
If you were a viewer of the television 60s Para Handy or the television 90s Para Handy this is a must. A study in wit, guile and "Furtive" behaviour. Genial rogues, pirates of the Clyde or just true to life characters from the West of Scotland the crew of the "Vital Spark" are always on the lookout for a quick profit. Does it ever come off? You will have to watch the delightful antics of the crew to find out. The DVD is also a 60s advert for the West Coast of Scotland with good footage of the area.
Buy, buy, buy you will not be disapointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully acted Classic Scottish Comedy, 3 Sept. 2009
By 
Ian Phipps "hemeloid" (Felden UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
This is a wee series of classic comedy on the high seas, well up and down the clyde really. This is comedy from a slower kinder time, but no less funny for that. It's a little 'puffer' of a coastal tramp steamer called The Vital Spark. They have a great cast including Russell Hunter for one episode.

It's a crime that these are the only episodes left.

Roddy Macmillan as the skipper - Para Handy and John Grieve down in the engine room as Dan Macphail are excellent and "If Dougie were here he would tell you himsel' by jingo - Buy it"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic comedy, 1 Jan. 2009
By 
Dodster (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
The dvd has 4 episodes from the classic comedy series. These are all that survive from the BBC archives. What a waste!
Despite this the episodes are brilliant comedy. The humour is very gentle but very sharp.
I enjoyed watching these episodes in my youth and they make me laugh just as much now.
The fifth title on the dvd is a sequence shot on board 'The Maggie' featuring the original crew of the Vital Spark as a trailer for a music album. Fascinating watch.
Really a must have for fans of Scottish comedy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spark is still vital!, 3 April 2009
By 
Cruicky (Highland Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
We thoroughly enjoyed this dvd. It brought back so many memories of our childhood; though we understood the humour better this time around! Such a shame these are the only episodes left.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage comedy classic, 20 May 2010
By 
Mr. Edward Sayers (North Shields, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
Welcome release on DVD of this old comedy series based upon Captain Para Handy's exploits on the coastal tramp steamer the Vital Spark. Strong acting from the cast. Recommended.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vital Spark (Clyde Puffer), 13 April 2005
By 
Derek Pardoe (Wilmslow, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I am a collector of Clyde Puffer memorabilia and I found the Video most amusing and typical of these "Wee" boats. When I was an office boy (In 1941) for a glasgow shipping company I had the pleasure of sailing "Doon the water" to Port Glasgow where it was having a re-fit.. she was called the Jennie and is illustrated in Dan Mcdonald's book "The Clyde Puffer" page 33, she was wrecked in the island of Eigg in 1954--- Whilst on Holiday on Pembrokeshire last year I had a Serendipity experience when I found a model 14 inches in length with every detail shown of the vessel in a shop in St.Davids--- I have now purchased The Vital Spark 2 video and again look forward to seeing that. I can thoroughly recommend the Video to anyone who is a fan of this long gone form of transport used to ship goods and chattels to the remote islands of the Inner & Outer Hebrides from up the Clyde--The video is typical of the antics of the crew and a great follow up to the book PARA HANDY by Neil Munro (The Birlinn First Complete edition) which I enjoy reading
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vital Spark, 17 Feb. 2006
By 
Ian W. Bruce - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Vital Spark [DVD] [1974] (DVD)
These are all the episodes of the original Vital Spark That are Left The BBC in there stupidity recorded over all the rest of them lets hope The Tales of Para Handy with Gregor Fisher,Rikki Fulton,Sean Scanlan,Andrew Fairlie,Paul Young are Released Soon
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