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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2009
Shooting The Past - A country house full of some delightful and memorable characters. They face a fight to keep an amazing photographic collection intact. Like Perfect Strangers, this is all about history and family, and how the past affects us. Compelling.

The Lost Prince - Interesting and poignant drama telling the little-known story of Prince John, the youngest child of George V and Queen Mary. His illnesses mean he is kept away from society. The incredible world events of the time are glimpsed through the eyes of this boy in his hidden world. Sad and riveting.

Perfect Strangers - A rich, affecting and comic story of young man from the suburbs of West London who goes to a huge family reunion (effectively all strangers to him as his father has become estranged from) and meets a variety of eccentrics all with stories to tell. "Every family has three really good stories to tell" and some of these are astonishing yet believable. Gripping and humane, none of the characters are two-dimensional and the drama shows how little we often know about people, and how humanity always has the capacity for change. Some similarities with Shooting the Past - ie how so much can be contained within a photograph but that it just needs explaining. Great acting from Michael Gambon, Lindsay Duncan, Matthew Macfadyen, Claire Skinner, Timothy Spall etc. My favourite.

Caught on a Train - well liked by the critics but I found this a diverting though not gripping story of a young man and an elderly woman on an overnight train journey across Europe. A bit stagey.

Friends And Crocodiles - More affluence and country houses! A charismatic Great Gatsby-type man collects interesting people and has delightful parties. He gets an assistant to organise his chaos. We see their lives changing over the years after the parties end...

Gideon's Daughter - A PR consultant to the rich, famous and influential becomes disillusioned with his life as his daughter drifts away from him. Like Friends and Crocodiles I didn't find this as affecting as some of the earlier works but it's still an interesting study of love, family and relationships.

All in all I think this is an excellent collection of dramas relying on human interaction and relationships (often in adversity) for the thrills, rather than Hollywood-style action. I got this in a sale for a bargain £30 a while back and it was well worth it. In my mind it would have been worth it just for Perfect Strangers, Shooting the Past and The Lost Prince.
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on 6 August 2013
My partner was not impressed with "Caught on a Train" and it was some time until we watched the rest but then she got very impressed with all the other films and series on here. Some are in two or three parts and others are complete films. If you like fast-paced action films go elsewhere but if you like interesting dramas about unusual people and situations you'll probably love them all. If you like Timothy Spall these are some of his finest moments and the same can be said of some of the other well-known actors and actresses in these films too. Brilliant scripts and excellent performances. They are probably also interesting to watch twice because some of the later revelations cast a light on things that happened earlier.
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on 19 August 2011
What's not to love? Brilliant scripts: the cream of British acting; different, original themes; signature haunting music. Not to be missed and savoured.Themes that stay with you. I remember seeing the originals years ago and they still haunt me.
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on 6 June 2011
I can thoroughly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys a story well told and wonderful acting and film direction. Shooting the Past I would single out as a good starting point if you are not familiar with the work of Poliakoff and from then on you will be a convert. His style is distinctive and combined with wonderful acting has an almost hypnotic quality.

Thoroughly recommend unless you like cop chases and plenty of action. These stories rely on clever scripting and drop dead acting for their appeal.
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on 5 March 2013
I loved each of these. Fabulous writing, really interesting and unusual plots and great casting and performances - thoroughly recommended. I remember Caught on a Train from its initial screening years ago and have never forgotten it; Michael Kitchen and Peggy Ashcroft were riveting. The Lost Prince and Shooting the Past are absorbing and charming; Gina McKee, Lyndsay Duncan and Timothy Spall are completely convincing in their roles. I hadn't previously seen Friends and Crocodiles but loved it too for its excentricity, lovely production quality and once again the writing and acting were excellent.
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on 30 March 2013
A television film drama written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff is an event to treasure for he is one of the very few truly original and accomplished writers working in the medium. Indeed, he may be the only true auteur. This box set brings together six of his classic films. The very early Caught On A Train is the most straightforward : set on a train travelling through Western Europe it is essentially about the developing relationship between two very different passengers : a young English businessman on his way to a book fair and an autocratic and elderly Austrian woman living somewhat in the past. Poliakoff brilliantly shows how the two of them persistently rub up each other the wrong way and yet achieve a mutual understanding devoid of sentimentality. Shooting The Past tells a fascinating story of how the curator of a large photographic archive and her assistants attempt to save it following the take-over of their premises by an American organisation intent on setting up a business school for the 21st century. Perfect Strangers is, perhaps, the masterpiece of the set : a large-scale family reunion in a luxurious London hotel leads to startling and unexpected revelations about the pasts of some of the family members. The Lost Prince is less interesting but beautifully and handsomely filmed : the true story of the ill-fated Prince John, one of the children of King George V and Queen Mary, who has learning difficulties, suffers from fits and is virtually hidden away by his parents, to be loved only by his faithful nurse and his unhappy brother, Prince George. In the curiously-titled Friends and Crocodiles a young but highly-capable assistant in an estate agency agrees to become the secretary to a successful but unpredictable and hedonistic business tycoon; as her career blossoms his goes into self-destructive decline. In part, this is by way of being a thinly-veiled indictment of corporate ambition and greed in the Thatcher era. Finally, Gideon's daughter, set in 1997, and perhaps less compelling than the other films, is concerned with a PR guru whose private life starts to spin out of control. There are a number of sterling performances throughout the series, from the likes of Peggy Ashcroft (predictably superb in Caught On A Train), Michael Gambon, Lindsay Duncan, Timothy Spall and Miranda Richardson (all four of whom appear in two of the films) and Gina Mckee (very moving as Prince John's nurse Lalla). The six films are not without some implausibilities and miscalculations here and there but overall this is a splendid collection. One can forgive the numerous extras, mostly interviews with the principal actors, each of whom unfailingly asserts that their colleagues are wonderful.
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on 23 June 2014
I loved this box-set. Hours and hours of humane, intelligent, grown-up TV drama. Poliakoff knows how to draw you in to his witty, haunting stories. He's not afraid to seduce and please with gorgeous lighting, atmospheric music and beautiful leading actors, but he never tells you what to think. And what stellar casts - Michael Gambon, Lindsey Duncan, Timothy Spall, Peggy Ashcroft... His ability to blend politics so subtly and seamlessly with great character-led story-telling is inspiring.
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on 16 November 2013
Brilliantly written and produced. He has an eye for the surreal and appears to be fascinated by the dilemmas of the extremely rich. He is a lover of peoples' histories.
I'm so glad I bought this.
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on 28 April 2015
Just as I remembered them apart from the lost prince which I had not seen before!These stories stay with you whether it is the acting the stories the music or all three.They seem simplistic at first but then you realise there are several layers to each and I see something new each time.I now want to buy the rest! Excellent.
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on 8 September 2013
This collection of the now "Classic" films portray Poliakoff at his very best and is one of the very best box sets on the market
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