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DVDs, Books, Broadcast TV and Merchandise all come under the gaze of our expert reviewers.

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Blu-Ray (225)

The latest winner in the format wars, we look at both television and movies that are hitting the shelves in this pristine new technology.

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Books (11)

Essential reading materials reviewed so that you can assemble the library most suited to your interests.

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Broadcast (2)

The latest transmissions on terrestrial and digital television channels across the panet, and what we think of them.

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Cult Movies on DVD (291)

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

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Events (21)

Places to go and people to see, and here we find out whether it was worth it or not!

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Handbags Before Dawn (8)

Contentious opinions on all matters television - from schedulers to the programmes themselves, the continuity errors to the highs and lows of what actually makes it to the screen.

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Interviews (10)

Interviews with stars and programme makers from various CULT TV universes.

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Merchandise (8)

Collectables of all shapes and sizes reviewed and rated

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Star Profiles (153)

Background information and career history of cult celebrities from in front of and behind the camera.

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TV DVDs (280)

The latest titles from TV series and TV specials range to hit the shelves and online stores

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Blue Money - out now on Blu-ray and DVD“Blue Money” is a TV movie starring the irrepressible Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) as Larry, an aspiring actor making ends meet as a taxi driver. When a passenger leaves behind a case stuffed with cash, Larry nicks it and flees with his girlfriend Pam (Debby Bishop – “Sid and Nancy”). On the road, the duo encounters a crazy Scottish hitchhiker (Billy Connolly – “The Last Samurai”) and some deadly gangsters who really want their money back.

Directed by Colin Bucksey (Masters of Sex, Better Call Saul), this comedy/ musical/ thriller allows Curry ample opportunity to show off his superb talents, including singing, doing impressions and pulling rubbery facial expressions. Dermot Crowley (Luther, Bleak House) co-stars as Larry’s bent mate Brogan, who – once he learns about the money – is rather hard to shake off!

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Paths of Glory - out no on Blu-ray“Paths of Glory” is a searing critique on the futility of war, directed by Stanley Kubrick (“The Shining”, “A Clockwork Orange”) and starring Kirk Douglas (“Spartacus”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”). Douglas plays Colonel Dax, a World War I French officer coerced into sending his troops on an impossible assault on a German fortified position, primarily to appease the media and public opinion back home.

The inevitable happens and the attack fails disastrously; countless soldiers are killed and the rest either retreat or refuse to go over the top in the first place. The top brass is incensed and orders the selection of three men to be court martialled as an example to the rest, with death by firing squad a near certainty. Dax, a lawyer by trade, demands to be their defending counsel, clinging on to the slender hope of saving them.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Man in the Moon on DVDKenneth More (“A Night to Remember”, “Sink the Bismarck!”) stars in this madcap British comedy about a human lab rat who is shortlisted for the first manned mission to the moon. William Blood is a man seemingly immune to all ailments, worries and fears. He is unaware of the goal of the mission, the large cash prize attached to it, or that he has a competitor who will stop at nothing to stop him succeeding.

The director is Basil Dearden (“Dead of Night”, The Persuaders!), and the cast also includes Shirley Anne Field (“Alfie”) as a jaw-dropping stripper who catches Blood’s eye, Michael Hordern (“Where Eagles Dare”) as the scientist who sees the hero’s potential, Charles Gray (Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds are Forever”) as a devious fellow astronaut and Norman Bird (“The Hill”) as Blood’s best mate.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Flight of the Phoenix - out now on Blu-rayA plane carrying around a dozen men is forced to crash-land in the Sahara Desert after encountering a violent sandstorm. The survivors, a mixture of British army personnel, oilmen, an engineer and a physician, must pull together or die in this harsh environment. Their food and water supplies are limited and they have no way to communicate with civilisation, so it seems that rescue by a search party is their only hope.

Directed by Robert Aldrich (“The Dirty Dozen”, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”), this disaster movie has a very strong cast that includes James Stewart (“Read Window”) as pilot Frank Towns, Richard Attenborough (“The Great Escape”) as his co-pilot, Peter Finch (“Network”) as Captain Harris, Hardy Krüger (“A Bridge Too Far”) as an aeroplane engineer, Ernest Borgnine (“The Wild Bunch”) and Ronald Fraser (“The Wild Geese”).

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tingha and Tucker - the lost legendary koalas make it to DVDTingha and Tucker, even for those who were there at the time, are now on the cusp of memory. Between 1962 and 1970, ATV made this pair of koala bears heroes to a generation of pre-school kids, but mainly only for those in the Midlands. And I was one of them, even being taken by my parents to Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire to see the bears, and their matriarch, ‘Auntie’ Jean Morton, for one of their ‘Annual Meetings’.

Jean had been promoted to various onscreen roles, following being one of the inaugural station announcers for ATV Midlands from 1956, along with future Police Five host Shaw Taylor. However, it is for this one children’s series that an entire age band most remembers her, thanks to assorted merchandise and an extremely popular fan club for the koalas. And now, Network has compiled everything that remains of the series in the archives, in an incredible two-DVD set which demonstrates amiable anarchy for pre-schoolers that has, even to this day, never been so raucous.

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Patrick McGoohan in All Night Long on Blu-rayAs we approach the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner next year, it is not surprising that there will be a rising interest in all things ‘Patrick McGoohan’. And so it is that we see a fully restored Blu-ray release of “All Night Long” from Network, which is Shakespeare’s “Othello” set against an internal backdrop of an East London jazz jamboree.  Its subject matter is as timeless as you would expect with work based on the Bard, with one little bit of vintage technology making this very much a period piece.

From 1962, and presented in a brand-new High Definition transfer from original film elements in its as-exhibited aspect ratio, McGoohan is drummer Johnny Cousin, with the actor revealing another talent not widely mentioned on his CV. It’s terrific to see him genuinely playing with gusto amongst a parade of topline jazz stars of the time. That said, in one instance when McGoohan's character is playing a drum solo, the kit is different in the medium shots and Point-Of-View shots.

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Identicals - out now on DVD and VODAre you happy with your life? If not, would you pass up the opportunity to start anew, leaping into somebody else’s richer or more exciting existence? Dark, sci-fi thriller “Identicals” presents a window into such a possibility. Slater (Lachlan Nieboer – Torchwood, Downton Abbey) experiences a shocking home invasion where his girlfriend Nadia (Nora-Jane Noone – “The Descent”, the Jack Taylor TV movies) is abducted at gunpoint.

Still reeling from the violent attack, Slater receives an invitation to visit Brand New U, a company that specialises in identity transference. In return for essentially becoming a new person, albeit with a similar face, customers must promise to leave their past lives behind and fully embrace their new reality. The punishment for breaking this rule is potentially fatal, but Slater’s love for Nadia proves difficult to shake.

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Sunday, 07 August 2016

Kidnapped with Michael Caine out now on DVDBased on the novels of Robert Louis Stevenson, “Kidnapped” is an adventure story set in the aftermath of the 1746 Battle of Culloden. David Balfour (Lawrence Douglas – The Onedin Line) is an 18-year-old Scotsman who, seeking his inheritance, is kidnapped by his dastardly uncle Ebenezer (Donald Pleasance – “The Great Escape”) and enslaved on a ship bound for the Carolinas. After a fierce fight and resulting shipwreck, Balfour finds himself back on Scottish soil.

He is accompanied by Alan Breck (Michael Caine – “The Italian Job”), a notorious Jacobite rebel being hunted by the British Red Coats. The pair become enmeshed in the assassination of a key British ally and flee for their lives. The film also stars Jack Hawkins (“Zulu”), Trevor Howard (“Ghandi”), Gordon Jackson (Cowley in The Professionals) and Freddie Jones (“The Elephant Man”). Director Delbert Mann won an Oscar for “Marty”.

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Police Story - Lockdown - out now on Blu-ray and DVD“Police Story: Lockdown” is the sixth film in the action-packed franchise that started way back in 1985. The inimitable Jackie Chan stars, this time as Captain Zhong Wen, an elite cop who is kidnapped when he meets up with his estranged daughter at a nightclub. The club’s owner, Wu Jiang (Ye Liu – “City of Life and Death”) has a serious grudge to settle, and the lives of a dozen or so hostages lie in the balance. Can Wen save the day?

A cross between “Die Hard”, “The Dark Knight” and “Saw”, “Lockdown” features little of the Chan trademark humour, but a surfeit of impressive stunts and fights. He may be 62 but Jackie (“Rush Hour”, “The Karate Kid”) is still going strong. This is a movie oozing in brooding, claustrophobic atmosphere and a sense of constant danger. Director Ding Sheng got the best out of his star before in “Little Big Soldier”, and does so again here.

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Cocoon - out now on Blu-rayDirector Ron Howard (“The Da Vinci Code”) enjoyed further success after “Splash” with this gentle sci-fi tale about the peculiar side effects of some old folks’ encounter with aliens. Most of the occupants of the Sunny Shores Villas retirement home seem resigned to their sedentary existence and declining health, but not all. Several gentlemen defiantly try to see off the Reaper by breaking into a neighbouring property’s magnificent swimming pool.

One day the OAPs discover a number of large, pod-like objects in the pool, and post-swim the men feel unusually alive and bursting with vigour. The cocoons have been placed there by a group doing some marine archaeology, but who are they and what is their intention? Regardless of the answers, the men have some hard decisions to make regarding their new-found lust for life and their futures.

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Harvesting - out now on DVD and VODA family on the edge of collapse leave the city behind for a cleansing vacation in the countryside. Desperate to renew their familial and marital bonds, they settle into their rustic holiday home with a quiet Amish community nearby. Initially the only source of tension is the kids moaning about being bored without their phones, TV and Internet, but the area has a dark past that is about to be reawakened on the advent of the summer solstice.

This creepy horror film stars Elena Caruso (“Cloverfield”) and Chris Conner (The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story) as the married couple, Noah Headley and Accalia Quintana (“Dead Man Down”) as their kids, Greg Wood (“The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”) as the leader of the Amish settlement and Jennifer Gareis (“Miss Congeniality”) as one of the Amish women. Director Ivan Kraljevic cut his teeth as a second unit or assistant director on the likes of Colony, Agent Carter and Sons of Anarchy.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Bachelor Games - Out now on Video on DemandFive mates arrive in a rustic part of Argentina for a stag do, expecting little more than to get drunk and have some fun. Sure enough, their first night results in booze-fuelled carnage; the next morning they go on a hike into the Andes mountains with sore heads and high spirits. Unfortunately for them, events take a sinister, supernatural turn. Is everything what it seems, and are their friendships still as strong as they make out?

Hot on the heels of the BBC’s Stag mini-series, “Bachelor Games” treads familiar horror-comedy ground, albeit in relatively fresh and visually impressive surroundings. The movie stars Jack Gordon (“Panic Button”) as stag Henry, Charlie Bewley (“The Twilight Saga: New Moon”) as hunky best man Leon, along with Jack Doolan (“Cemetery Junction”), Mike Noble (“Gambit”) and Obi Abili (Injustice) as the rest of the party members.

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Monday, 04 July 2016

Wizards - out now on Blu-ray“Wizards” is an animated fantasy film about an epic war between two wizard brothers. The battle takes place on an Earth that is still recovering from a global nuclear attack by terrorists two million years ago. On the good side is Avatar who marshals an army of fairies, elves and dwarves, whilst the evil opposition is led by a mutated, skeletal wizard called Blackwolf, whose forces include demons, mutants and robots.

Blackwolf (voiced by Steve Gravers – “The Car”) sends three assassins to kill all good believers in magic, but one of them – a gun-toting robot called Necron 99 (David Proval – “The Shawshank Redemption”) - is turned and decides to help Avatar (Bob Holt – “Gremlins”). The forces of good set out for Blackwolf’s castle in the land of Scortch, desperate to put an end to the evil wizard’s campaign before his reign of terror wipes out magic forever.

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Timeslip - Limited Edition DVD Set out nowSome shows stay with you a lifetime, and I recall Timeslip with huge relish from its first broadcast. It was a benchmark of 1970s ‘telefantasy’, and despite previous VHS and DVD releases of the series, while this set contains all episodes in their original, as-transmitted, full screen aspect ratios, what makes this new release from Network is the plentiful supply of  special features which will encourage previous owners to dig deep once more.

Devised by Ruth Boswell – who would go on to produce both The Tomorrow People and Shadows, with most of three of the four stories written by Bruce Stewart – Timeslip blends rational science with fantasy, in a format of two teenagers who discover the existence of a ‘time barrier’ - enabling them to travel to different periods and locations, and in terms of the broadcast episodes that ranges from World War Two to alternative chilling visions of the future.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Enemy Mine - out now on Blu-rayIn the late 21st Century, mankind is at war with an alien race called the Drac. Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid – “The Day After Tomorrow”) is a hotshot pilot who is forced to crash land on a barren planet after a thrilling dogfight. Also stranded on the surface is a Drac (Louis Gossett Jr. – “An Officer and a Gentleman”), so Davidge is driven to kill his enemy before even thinking about finding food, water and shelter in this inhospitable place.

Despite their extreme animosity towards one another, the human and Drac are soon forced to put their differences aside as two brains working together stand a better chance of survival. Their future is uncertain, what with devastating meteor storms lashing down on them, extreme seasonal variances in weather, deadly native creatures out for their blood and the possibility that they may never be rescued by either race.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Smokey and the Bandit - out now on Blu-rayA daredevil truck driver called The Bandit accepts an $80,000 challenge to illicitly haul 400 crates of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta in 28 hours. The Bandit (Burt Reynolds – “Deliverance”) opts to run interference against the police (aka smokies) whilst his buddie Snowman (country and western singer Jerry Reed – “The Waterboy”) drives the 18-wheeler. Against them stands Sheriff Buford T Justice (Jackie Gleason – The Honeymooners).

Sally Field (“Forrest Gump”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”) co-stars as a hitch-hiking bride-to-be who jilts her partner, none other than the Sheriff’s son (Mike Henry – “Soylent Green”). Naturally this adds further fuel to the lawman’s fire. As the trio tear through the U.S. they leave a trail of devastation in their wake, and a growing tail of cop cars intent on bringing their crazy endeavour to a premature end.

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

That Cold Day in the Park - out now in a combo Blu-ray and DVD packFrances Austin is a 30-something spinster who lives on her own in a luxurious Vancouver apartment. She socialises with folks much older than her but remains lonely. One day Frances spies a mute, adolescent boy huddled against the cold and rain in the local park. She takes pity on him and invites him home to dry off, have a warm bath and a meal. The teenager accepts her generosity but his identity remains a mystery despite her best efforts to get him to open up.

The boy (Michael Burns – Wagon Train) stays the night and on through the next day. Frances (Sandy Dennis – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) becomes increasingly infatuated with him, splashing out on a new set of clothes and giving him the run of her home, a truly bizarre state of affairs involving complete strangers. Directed by Robert Altman (“M*A*S*H”, “The Player”), this disturbing psychological thriller gets under your skin.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Face of Eve out now on DVDMike Yates (Robert Walker Jr) is a pilot and adventurer on the trail of lost Inca treasure in “The Face of Eve”. He goes searching for his business partner, Sean Moore, lost while out in his plane. During the hunt, he is saved from savages by Eve, a beautiful white jungle goddess who wields a strange power over her subjects. Soon, both Yates and Eve are involved in a dangerous race deep in the wilderness to locate the hidden treasure, in this new DVD release from Network.

Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom also feature in this adventure on a budget, but the star is the captivating Celeste Yarnall – to Star Trek fans forever Yeoman Martha Landon from the episode “The Apple”, as well as guesting as Andrea Fouchet in The Man from UNCLE story “The Monks of St Thomas Affair”. She was later immortalised as the blood-thirsty temptress Diane LeFanu in the 1971 cult horror classic “The Velvet Vampire”.  This is Tarzan with curves, in an yarn which has a sub-plot which lets it rise above the standard type of production in this sub-genre.

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Thursday, 09 June 2016

Every Home Should Have One - out now on Blu-ray and DVDMarty Feldman is one of those comedy icons who has turned into the stuff of legend, as so much of his material from over the years has been junked from archives. In “Every Home Should Have One”, his first big screen performance, out for the first time on Blu-ray as well as a DVD rendering, this risqué comedy revolves around Teddy Brown, an advertising executive whose life becomes unnecessarily complicated when he's declared the man to run a campaign to ‘sex up’ one of his agency’s top products – and there’s no Tony Blair in sight!

It is 1970, and poor Teddy has several problems to contend with. His colleague’s advice to 'Think Dirty' (also an alternative title for the film, and a catchy tune laced throughout it) seems to have resonated worryingly with his young son, while the Rev Geoffrey Mellish (Dinsdale Landen) complicates matters when his ‘Clean-Up TV’ campaign gains unexpected support from Teddy’s wife. As Teddy's ineptitude is mistaken for talent, he needs an erotic angle for McLaughlin's Frozen Porridge (Highland Fresh Instant Oats). His solution is to stage a national hunt for a ‘Goldilocks’ to feature in some television commercials, which have to meet the approval of McLaughlin himself (Jack Watson).

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Sunday, 05 June 2016

The Tunnel - Sabotage - out on DVD nowAward-winning hard-hitting drama The Tunnel, from the makers of Broadchurch, returns for a second series subtitled Sabotage. Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane resume their starring roles in this geopolitical thriller, first broadcast on Sky Atlantic, and now making its DVD debut. The pace is ramped up from the rather Scandinavian melancholy-feel of the first series, and there are some uncomfortable moments for the ruling elite in terms of the plot twists employed herein.

Described as a “tense, high octane thriller”, this time the investigative duo from opposite sides of the Channel have to first rid themselves of the demons left with them at the end of the initial series. Pragmatic, meticulous and newly-promoted Commander Elise Wasserman  (Poésy – Fleur Delacour in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” parts 1 and 2, Chloe in “In  Bruges”) and laconic DCI Karl  Roebuck (Dillane – Stannis Baratheon in Game  of  Thrones, Rupert Keel in Hunted) are reunited. They are assigned to investigate the case of a French couple abducted from the Eurotunnel, leaving behind their traumatised young daughter. As this story brews, a passenger plane carrying British and French nationals crashes into the Channel, killing everyone on board. The two strands begin to intertwine, leading to far bigger questions to address, and a genuine conspiracy to uncover.

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Call Up -out now on DVD and VODA select group of video gamers is lured to an imposing skyscraper by the opportunity to win £100,000 in a virtual reality competition. Donning state of the art haptic body suits and head sets, the players are enrolled in a military shooter featuring 25 floors of increasingly difficult challenges. If they get shot in the game the players can instantly be healed by a med-pack, but the pain will feel real. Playing online from your couch is one thing; this is real warfare.

Written and directed by Charles Barker, the film stars Morfydd Clark (“Love & Friendship”), Parker Sawyers (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Max Deacon (“Into the Storm”), Tom Benedict Knight (“Kick-Ass 2”), Ali Cook (“The Anomaly”), Adriana Randall (“Triple 9”) and Douggie McMeekin as the gamers, with Chris Obi (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) as a very scary drill Sergeant. The producers have been involved with movies such as “The Machine”, “Monsters: Dark Continent” and “Dracula Untold”.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Grace and Favour comes to UK DVDBuried in the mists of time is the spin-off from Are You Being Served? That original series began in September 1972 and concluded in April 1985 after ten seasons and (guffaw guffaw) 69 episodes! The idea for a new format, away from the constraints of the department store, was pitched immediately after the previous show had finished – the cast themselves suggesting it to writers and creators Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Unfortunately, it was some seven years before Grace & Favour made it to the screen, and in many respects its era had long since passed. Today, it certainly seems like an anachronism, but it would appear this was the same reaction back at its debut. Now you get to judge for yourself, as all 12 episodes appear on a UK DVD release for the very first time.

The first season of six episodes certainly seems to be very mixed-up about what it wants to be, and indeed the years it actually resides in. The set-up is your traditional ‘fish out of water’ scenario, where the newcomers from the city struggle to come to terms with an almost-primitive rural life, all based at a country hotel which they have reluctantly inherited instead of a pension fund. However, the attitudes, culture and technologies seem almost like they have been transplanted from the 1930s rather than the then-contemporary world of the early 1990s. Mrs Slocombe ends up in court for having a horse and cart run away with her; the hotel’s current staff are bumpkins who make The Beverly Hillbillies look sophisticated; and the trappings of the hotel have none of what might be expected of a late 20th Century manor house.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Whicker and Whickers New World come complete to DVDAlan Whicker has rightly gained the reputation of television legend on British shores. The incisive journalism took him to global locations, and saw him create an inimitable niche over 50 years of broadcasting. Having previously had three volumes from Network over the years of what many would consider his ‘greatest hits’, now the company goes back to the beginning to release a chronological collection of his entire ITV output. The first two double DVD sets are out now, from 1968 and 1969.

And there is good reason to do this relaunch. You very much get to see the development of the television character, the honing of the most incredible of narrations to the material you get to see, and also appreciate the scope of how what initially local current affairs for the ITV network from the Yorkshire Television area became something far more. The scope increases, as must have done the budgets, where the characters Whicker encounters become more outlandish, doused in cash and idiosyncratic.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Roobarb - and Custard - in a complete DVD collectionA creative dog, a puce shade of green, tries to put into action every mad-cap scheme. A cynical cat, who watches on mostly from the top of the fence in critical disdain. And a cast of garden wildlife, including Mole and Rookie the Rook to support or hinder the dog’s equivalent of tilting at windmills, in terms of invention and innovation. So it is that Roobarb, and its sequel series, a five minute show supposedly for kids, took on the pre-news slot in the early evenings on BBC1, and ended up having adult fans from all walks of life making time to see the short adventures. It may have been a different form of animation, magic markers taken to the extreme, but this was very much a generational-crossing concept in the same surreal category as The Magic Roundabout.

Roobarb was inspired by creator Grange Calveley’s Welsh Border Collie, who was so named after ‘watering’ the rhubarb in his garden, very soon after going to live at his home. Despite publishers liking the character and his strange adventures, no-one took Grange up on them, so he turned his thoughts to a series of short television animations instead. Persistence with the BBC eventually paid off – not a slot on Jackanory, oh no, but a request to see a pilot episode. Enter Bob Godfrey, animation director, and Australian animation director Peter Green brought Calveley’s sketches to life. And now all 69 episodes are released together on DVD by Simply Media.

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Sunday, 01 May 2016

The Wonder Years - complete 26 DVD box set out nowThe year is 1968, the place a typical middle-class, American suburb. For 12-year-old Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage – “The Princess Bride”, “Austin Powers in Goldmember”) it is the centre of his universe as he grows up and grapples with life’s many lessons. This complete 26-DVD set, including four bonus discs, contains all 115 episodes from six seasons of the multi-award-winning show, and a staggering 23 hours of exclusive bonus material.

Kevin is not alone on his journey to adulthood, as indicated by the theme tune (Joe Cocker’s unforgettable rendition of The Beatles’ "With a Little Help from My Friends"). His parents Jack and Norma have got his back, and Kevin shares his experiences at school with best friends Paul and Winnie. His older brother Wayne and sister Karen have their own agendas, however.

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