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Spyship [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Tom Wilkinson, Peter Eyre, Lesley Nightingale, Michael Aldridge, David Burke
  • Directors: Michael Custance
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Simply Media
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Nov. 2013
  • Run Time: 330 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00FQFIKDS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,909 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Suspicions are aroused when a British trawler goes missing...
Tom Wilkinson leads the astonishing BBC Cold War drama inspired by real events.

Enter a nightmarish world of political cover-ups of international consequence in the last decade of the Cold War in this six-part BBC drama.
When an ordinary British fishing vessel and its 36-man crew mysteriously disappears off the coast of Norway, journalist Martin Taylor (Tom Wilkinson) is determined to find out why. His father was on board, and is now missing. His investigations soon lead him to run up against the twin barriers of Royal Navy stonewalling and an impenetrable Soviet Politburo. The notorious finale shocked audiences when it was first aired in 1983. The haunting theme 'A Cold Wind', sung by June Tabor, was so popular it was released as a single.

Spyship is based on the fictional novel by Brian Haynes and Tom Keene, former reporters who researched the real life sinking of the FV Gaul in 1974 which was shrouded in mystery.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A terrific series that has finally receive a long-awaited DVD release.

However, please be aware that the DVD seems to be afflicted with a similar problem that affected the recent release of Softly Softly in that the studio VT sequences for some episodes appear to have been 'filmised' which leaves such scenes with a smeary, unsharp finish.

Also, when playing episode 1 using the 'Play Episode' function on a DVD player a chapter is skipped entirely resulting in the episode appearing to only run for 40 minutes. Selecting 'Play All' lets you see the full 52-minute episode.

Simply have said that they are recalling and reissuing a corrected version of the disc with the Episode 1 fault, but haven't said if the apparent filmising of the episodes will be rectified.

EDITED TO ADD: Simply have been in contact with me and are rectifying the error on this DVD release. Thanks for listening Simply.
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A great story, which many will argue bears more than a passing resemblance to fact. The Gaul was a Hull trawler, described by some as "ahead of it's time". Nevertheless it was lost, in what many locals considered to be suspicious circumstances, taking most of it's crew with it. Only in recent years has the wreck been found and still mystery surrounds the circumstances behind it's sinking and the terrible loss of crew members. Many people still believe that she was a Spyship in the Cold War, something denied by the authorities. The similarities between this story and the fate of The Gaul are many. There is certainly much truth about this tale.
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Spyship was a gripping BBC TV drama in the early 1980s which still entertains. Loosely based on the true story of the disappearance of the trawler FV Gaul, Spyship tells the tale of a fishing boat that sinks whilst on an espionage mission for the British during the Cold War. The son of one of the sailors lost at sea tries to find out the truth behind what happened.

The six part drama is fairly slow moving, which gives the characters time to develop and the focus is very much on them for right from the start the viewer knows the rough circumstances of the sinking, that a cover-up is happening and who is involved in it. The plot does noticeably speed up in the final episode, and it's a shame that some of the final internal bureaucratic politics and unlikely collaboration between nominal enemies did not feature earlier in the series and so play out in more detail.

Even so, it makes for a satisfyingly dramatic final episode (though I was a little distracted by discovering that one key scene was filmed at the home of a school friend) and a poignant finale which matches the great piece of tragic singing used in the titles sequence.

The finale was shocking at the time and still rounds off the series in a powerful way even if some of the shock has been dulled by (without giving away any spoilers) the ending being of a type which has appeared in several other espionage thrillers since.

A small point about the quality of the DVD: the subtitles were put together by someone with a fairly random approach to the use of capital letters. At least the aggrivation caused by the repeated errors does not hinder understanding as otherwise the subtitles are competent.
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Format: DVD
At long last the BBC release Spyship on DVD!! I've pre-ordered my copy and haven't received it yet but I can't wait to watch this classic cold war drama once again. Its a rather scary thirty years since it was broadcast, and its never been repeated (to the best of my knowledge). The chilling title theme (no pun intended) may have been released as a single at the time but I believe its never been included on any other release, not even on June Tabor collections. The effects will be of their time I'm sure, similar to early-1980s Dr Who probably, but the story is a cracker and that ending (don't worry, no spoilers!) will certainly retain its power. A much more appropriate ending I always thought than the one in the source novel. The series is based on a mid-1970s novel of the same name by Tom Keane and Brian Haynes which itself drew heavily on the rumours that the Hull trawler Gaul, which disappeared in 1974 in similar circumstances to the Caistor, had been operating as a spyship in the seas off Norway. I recommend the novel too if you can find it, but for the time being buy the DVD and revel in the paranoia of the early 1980's cold war!
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This is a marvellous British thriller, gritty, subtle and understated and with excellent performances throughout. The northern fishermen lost when their trawler mysteriously sinks, their tough bereaved families and Tom Wilkinson as the son who sets about unearthing the political dirty dealings behind the 'accident' are all utterly convincing. No flashy special effects, no thumping music, yet as the plot thickens Spyship becomes truly frightening.
The rather grainy picture is no problem (goes with the period - this is how television used to look) but my discs were distractingly out of sync so it was like watching a badly dubbed foreign film. Some mistake surely?
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The plot: A fishing trawler mysteriously disappears off Norway. A journalist's father was on the boat. What happened? As the journalist tries to discover the truth, shadowy figures in British intelligence do everything they can to stop him.

My thoughts: This is very watchable. Like many 70s/80s dramas, it makes room for dialogue and exposition and doesn't bore the viewer with too much mindless action, although there are some terrific and very tense action scenes. There's a likeable hero, a very scary villain and plenty of intrigue. The setting of early '80s Hull is also very evocative. It's perhaps a tad predictable at times but if you like dramas from this period, you'll certainly like Spyship.
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