All Good Things to be released by Simply Media – 28th November 2016

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All Good Things, originally broadcast in 1991, will be released by Simply Media on the 28th of November 2016.  Review here.

A marriage and home can be made complete with the arrival of a new baby, but Shirley Frame (Brenda Blethyn) feels a need to share her good fortune by going out into the world and helping others – driving husband Phil (Warren Clarke) up the wall.

Shirley Frame (39) gives birth to her third child and is over the moon. Intent on sharing her delight with the world she embarks on a plan to make life a better place for as many people as possible. Husband Phil and their two teenagers aren’t easily convinced.

Very quickly Shirley learns that it’s not easy being a Good Samaritan, especially in a world of tower blocks, drug abuse and homelessness, even if your own life is rosy. Shirley identifies a string of potential good causes, leaving Phil holding the baby as she tries and fails to fix the lives of others.

Whether coaxing a potential suicide from a watery grave, giving reading lessons to an illiterate young mum with an abusive husband, or trying her hand at marriage guidance, Shirley puts her foot in it at every good turn – and invariably brings other people’s problems too close to home for comfort.

Joining double Oscar nominee, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voice) and the ever-dependable Clarke (Dalziel & Pascoe, Nice Work) in this 1991 BBC six-parter are Celia Imrie, Jemma Redgrave and Ken Stott, who were all on track to become equally well-loved household names.

Screenwriter Lesley Bruce’s TV credits also include Doctor Finlay, Lizzie’s Pictures, The Practice and Home Video.

Now on DVD for the first time, this is a wry comedy of errors about losing the plot while attempting to mend the ways of life’s ne’er-do-wells and no-hopers.

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Spike Milligan’s Q Series – Volume One to be released by Simply Media – 21st November 2016

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A pleasant surprise to see this on the release schedule as it’s the type of series which seemed increasingly unlikely to ever materialise on DVD.  And apart from a few minor trims (to excise unclearable music tracks) it will be as complete as it can possibility be.  Review here.

Spike Milligan’s Q was one of the most surreal sketch shows ever made and a huge influence on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which launched six months after Q first aired in 1969. Now this highly sought-after BAFTA-nominated series gets its first ever home entertainment release courtesy of Simply Media, with Q Volume 1: Series 1-3 released on DVD on 21 November 2016.

Considered one of the best examples of the British Comedy Award winner’s eccentricity and ‘stream-of-consciousness’ humour, Spike Milligan’s sketches in Q make outrageous leaps from one subject matter or location to another, stopping with no apparent conclusion, and not shying away from controversial matters. Filled with invention and taking huge risks, Q provides the perfect showcase for Milligan’s surreal wit.

It is clear to see Monty Python in Spike’s work, and the Pythons were quick to nab director Ian MacNaughton for their own show. The series features regular appearances from John Bluthal (The Vicar of Dibley), John D. Collins (‘Allo ‘Allo), Peter Jones (The Rag Trade), and Margaret Nolan (Goldfinger), with seasoned satirists Richard Ingrams and John Wells prominent in the rarely seen early episodes.

Enjoy the madness and mayhem of Spike Milligan’s Q5, Q6, and Q7 again in this landmark DVD release which contains all surviving episodes from series one, and the complete series two and three.

Chucklevision Series One and Two to be released by Simply Media – July/August 2016

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Simply Media will release Chucklevision Series One on the 25th of July 2016 with Series Two following on the 29th of August 2016.  Review here.

‘To me to you to me to you’… a phrase that will bring a chuckle to many generations.

With its catchy theme song Chuckle Vision Chuckle Chuckle Vision and inimitable stars The Chuckle Brothers, Chucklevision was one of the BBC’s longest running children’s series gracing our screens from 1987 – 2009 and now series one and two of the hilarious, madcap, much loved series arrive on DVD courtesy of Simply Media.

The Chuckle Brothers aka Barry and Paul Elliott are a TV phenomenon, with their unique humour that transcends kids TV to entertain all ages, and in 2008 they received the Special Award at the Children’s BAFTAs for their work.

Chucklevision first aired in 1987 and now The Complete Series One arrives on DVD on 25 July 2016 and features 13 original barmy episodes. With laughs and larks aplenty, Paul and Barry Chuckle try to launch their own television series, with a little help from Simon Lovell, the magician extraordinaire, and Billy Butler’s Armchair Theatre. It’s quite a show with dancing, singing, conjuring and even bodybuilding as the brothers try their hand at a bit of everything for our entertainment.

The second series of the wacky and thoroughly entertaining show aired from 1988 – 1989 and now Chucklevision The Complete Series Two, featuring another 13 zany episodes, arrives on DVD on 29 August 2016.

This series sees the boys investigate hobbies, farming and U.F.O.s, celebrate Christmas and the Australian Bicentennial, perform with a symphony orchestra and learn the art of puppetry, invent a robot and observe wildlife… and that’s not all!

The Ambassador to be released on DVD by Simply Media on 15/8/16

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Simply Media will release both series of The Ambassador on the 15th of August 2016.  Review here.

British acting legend Pauline Collins OBE (Shirley Valentine, Dickensien) stars as The Ambassador in this powerful BBC drama from award-winning, BAFTA-nominated Russell Lewis (Inspector Morse, Endeavour), which originally aired in 1998 and now makes its UK DVD premier courtesy of Simply Media.

Harriet Smith is the newly appointed British ambassador to Ireland; recently widowed, this sharp-witted confident woman, holds one of Britain’s most coveted and powerful Embassy posts and has unenviable task of quelling the mounting tensions between the two countries. She must perform a delicate balancing act between raising her two teenage sons and the demands of her career.

John Stone (Denis Lawson – Bleak House, Star Wars) is Harriet’s determined commercial attache and main aide. But the ever-crafty Stone also works for another master – MI6.

Harriet finds herself in a sinister and dangerous world far removed from the cocktail parties of Downing Street. Entangled in a complicated web of half-truths and withheld information – rife both in and outside of the Embassy walls – Harriet is up against a host of people who would love nothing more than to see her fail.

 

Simply Media BBC DVD Releases for March 2016. The Missing Postman, Children of Green Knowe and Stalky & Co

Released next week from Simply Media are three more classic BBC dramas.

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The Missing Postman, which won Best Comedy Drama at the British Comedy Awards in 1997, stars James Bolam as postman Clive Peacock.  Forced to take early retirement, he decides to deliver his last batch of letters by hand, which sets him off on an adventure up and down the country.  Apart from the ever solid Bolam, there’s a quality supporting cast which includes Alison Steadman, Larry Lamb and Barbara Dixon.

The Missing Postman has a running time of 150 minutes and an RRP of £19.99.  DVD Review.

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Toseland (Alec Christie) seems doomed to spend the holidays at his boarding school, but an invitation from his mysterious great-grandmother Mrs Oldknow (Daphne Oxenford) provides him with a welcome diversion.  Her estate, Green Knowe, is impressive, but things take an unexpected turn when he sees the spirits of children who lived in the house during the reign of Charles II.  Transmitted in 1986, The Children of Green Knowe is a fondly remembered series which some rate as highly as The Box of Delights.  Soon we’ll be able to see if they’re right.

The Children of Green Knowe has a running time of 100 minutes and an RRP of £19.99.  DVD Review.

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Stalky (Robert Addie), M’Turk (Robert Burbage) and Beetle (David Parfitt) are three schoolboys resident in a Victorian public school.  They entertain themselves by playing practical jokes on their schoolmasters and they currently rule the roost – but will they remain on top?  Produced by Barry Letts and based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, I’m looking forward to rewatching this 1982 adaptation, not least for the performance of the late Robert Addie (probably best known as the much put-upon Guy of Gisburne from Robin of Sherwood).

Stalky & Co has a running time of 180 minutes and an RRP of £24.99.  DVD Review.

All three titles are released on the 28th of March.

Simply Media BBC DVD releases for April 2016. The Ginger Tree, Charters & Caldicott, Next of Kin and Nature Boy

Simply Media continues to be one of the few companies to mine the BBC archives and they’ll be adding another four releases to their increasing range of BBC DVDs next month.

The Ginger Tree, Charters and Caldicott, Next of Kin and Nature Boy are four very different series which should offer something for most tastes.  I have to confess that I’m most looking forward to Charters and Caldicott, thanks to the wonderful combination of Robin Bailey and Michael Aldridge (although the supporting cast, including Tessa Peake-Jones and Caroline Blakiston, is very decent as well).

All four DVDs are due to be released on the 25th of April 2016 and below are some more details on each of them.

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The Ginger Tree, broadcast in 1989, is a historical drama set in 1903.  It stars Samantha Bond as a young Scottish woman, Mary MacKenzie, who travels to Manchuria to marry a British army officer.  But she grows disenchanted and begins an affair with a married Japanese nobleman, Count Kentaro Kurihama (Daisuke Ryu).  After bearing his child, she finds herself ostracised by Japanese society.  DVD Review.

Title: The Ginger Tree. Certificate: 12
Release Date: 25 April 2016. Cat No: 166312
Running Time: 240 mins approx. RRP: £19.99

 

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Robin Bailey and Michael Aldridge star as Charters and Caldicott.  The characters first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of The Lady Vanishes, although this serial finds them living in the modern (1985) world.  After a young girl is found murdered in Caldicott’s flat, the pair turn detective to solve what turns out to be a complex mystery.  DVD Review.

Title: Charters and Caldicott. Certificate: 12
Release Date: 25 April 2016. Cat No: 166313
Running Time: 300 mins approx. RRP: £24.99

 

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Sitcom stalwarts Penelope Keith and William Gaunt take the lead roles in Next of Kin which ran for three series during 1995 and 1997 (all the episodes are included on this DVD).  Maggie and Andrew Prentice are forced to put their plans for an early retirement on hold when they reluctantly find themselves – following the death of their son – the guardians of their grandchildren.  Gaunt was no stranger to the family sitcom (having starred in No Place Like Home) but the unusual theme of this series makes it worth a look.  Although it managed three series (not unusual for even middling sitcoms back then) it seems to have disappeared without trace since, so it’ll be interesting to see how it stands up today.  DVD Review.

Title: Next of Kin: The Complete Collection Series 1-3). Certificate: 12
Release Date: 25 April 2016. Cat No: 166314
Running Time: 660 mins approx. RRP: £39.99

 

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David (Lee Ingleby) only has vague memories of his father (played by Paul McGann) who left home when he was a young child.  Now seventeen, David (endowed with a love of nature thanks to his father’s influence) vows to track him down.  Along the way he finds love, pain and a new life as an environmental campaigner.  Nature Boy, broadcast in 2000, won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama in 2001.  DVD Review.

Title: Nature Boy. Certificate: 15
Release Date: 25 April 2016. Cat No: 166412
Running Time: 240 mins approx. RRP: £24.99