I have a passion for archive TV, as the pictures below may hint…
All of the releases on this shelf are released by Network, take a look at their full catalogue at http://www.networkdvd.net – seriously, when you take a look at their full catalogue, there is something for everyone (see my wish list at the bottom of the article, there’s still loads I want off Father Christmas!)
http://networkonair.com/shop/303-benny-hill-the-benny-hill-annuals-1970-79.html – alphabetically, this is the first in my collection. 12 discs, 33 episodes! Benny Hill’s Thames Television shows recorded between 1969 and 1979. Not likely to ever be repeated on television these days, there are so many funny sketches in this boxset. Also includes a silent TV comedy called ‘Eddie in August’ starring Hill, which is pretty good.
http://networkonair.com/shop/1249-benny-hill-the-benny-hill-annuals-1980-89.html – another 9 discs of Benny Hill, taking us up to 1989, when the powers that be at ITV decided that Benny Hill was to be axed… Hill died in 1992.
http://networkonair.com/shop/2328-best-of-benny-hill-the-5027626423742.html – this is The Best of Benny Hill, which was released in cinemas in 1974! Basically, it’s clips of Hill’s Thames shows between 1969 and 1974 along with a couple of bits specially filmed for this release. It’s the only Benny Hill you tend to see on TV these days, ITV3 occasionally show this.
A Bit of A Do
Lasting for two series, and repeated recently on Drama, this was probably one of the last ITV drama series that was studio based. David Jason, Gwen Taylor and Nicola Pagett star; it really is a charming series. The boxset has a couple of ITV archive interviews as extras too.
Cannon and Ball
I don’t think these shows have ever been repeated on TV! Network have released the first seven series of Cannon and Ball’s LWT work – including Christmas and Easter specials along the way! The shows are still funny, and from when the LWT logo appears, you feel transported back to when Saturday night television actually used to be more than Casualty and repeats of Mrs Brown’s Boys. I watched the Cannon and Ball at Drury Lane episode from 1982 recently and it was brilliant.
An Audience with Dudley Moore
This is the classic ‘Audience With’ show from Boxing Day 1981, plus Dudley Moore on ‘The South Bank Show’. There are minor edits to each programme but this DVD is still a joy. And with Rolf Harris appearing in the ‘Audience With’ show, it’s never going to be on TV again. So, treat yourself – it’s brilliant.
This is a boxset, with four DVD’s – three of them feature selected episodes from the trio’s BBC series, and the fourth is the complete LWT series from the early 1980’s. The LWT series has some extras, the BBC releases used to have extras, but we repackaged and sadly don’t feature the bonus material now. Let’s hope Network release the full BBC series soon – as there’s many episodes still to be seen and sadly no TV series repeats the show here in the UK these days.
George and the Dragon
Sid James, Peggy Mount, John Le Mesurier – what more could you want? 26 episodes of vintage ATV comedy. I don’t think Sid James did anything bad, did he? This is a forgotten classic.
Hale and Pace
Network have released the first four series of Gareth Hale and Norman Pace’s LWT sketch shows. I grew up watching these with my family and was in hysterics every Sunday night. I had bought Series 1 and 2, on more recently discovered Series 3 in Poundland! Yes, the packaging is different, but the content is exactly the same as the original Network release – so I picked it up to add to my collection!
This is a brilliant panel show hosted by Barry Cryer. Basically, Cryer pulls out a card… each card having different subjects for the comedians to tell a joke about. Les Dawson loved this format and is one of the regulars.
This is ‘An Audience with Kenneth Williams’ – originally confined to Channel Four on it’s first transmission on December 23rd 1983, my 2nd birthday. The show deserved much better than a late night showing on the new fourth channel – why did ITV not show it? One can only wonder. It was made by LWT – why did they shun it? It’s brilliant – still funny today – Williams a perfect raconteur.
Les Dawson at ITV
Featuring numerous specials from the comedians work at ITV – this is a great addition to Network’s releases of Dawson – it’s just a shame his BBC work hasn’t been released in the same manner. BBC Store – come on, make them available! I also have ‘Dawsons Weekly’ -a series Dawson made at Yorkshire Television in 1974 and 1975 and written by Galton and Simpson.
Morecambe and Wise
I have two Morecambe and Wise releases – Two of a Kind Series 1 (which is brilliant and the earliest surviving example of Eric and Ernie’s television work) and Volume 1 of The Thames Years. Morecambe and Wise switched from BBC to ITV in 1978 – and this release features their work up to 1980. The BBC work is more fondly remembered but there’s some classic bits in this release – I love the routine with Eric, Ernie and Leonard Rossiter as the Andrews Sisters.
Odd Man Out
If you haven’t heard of this – then this is a John Inman sitcom vehicle, made by Thames which lasted just one series. Full of innuendos, I love it – and has Peter Butterworth among the supporting cast.
On The Buses
I have the complete boxset of this series. Yes, the series is repeated regularly on ITV3 at the moment, but for some reason ITV3 start the repeats from Series 3, missing out the first two monochrome series. 74 episodes were made in total, and this boxset also includes the follow-up ‘Don’t Drink the Water’, where Blakey moves to Spain! And, it also includes all three films that were made… incidentally the first ‘On The Buses’ movie was popular at the cinema than the James Bond movie ‘Diamonds are Forever’!
Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson
As with Hale and Pace Series 3, I also found Series 1 of this 90’s comedy on the Poundland shelves. If you want both series, then there is a full Network release (see link), but for a pound, I’ll be able to watch something I unfortunately missed at the time it was first shown.
If you haven’t heard of this series, then you really need to buy this. Starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, it ran for just one series, but it’s so much fun. Interesting bit of trivia – my mate Craig Whitfield has hosted two ‘Persuaders Nights’, and on both occasions I have tweeted Sir Roger Moore, asking him to pick three episodes for us to watch. For both evenings, Sir Roger replied and picked us three episodes to watch – Sir Roger, thank you – we hope to have a ‘Persuaders Night III’ very soon!
I remember watching this as a teenager on Granada back in the 1990’s. I loved watching Russ Abbot in his comedy sketch series, and this was his first serious dramatic role. It also starred the late Michael Williams and together, the show really worked. Like many of the shows I’ve mentioned here, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been repeated? We always see the same programmes repeated in a cycle on channels such as ITV3, and True Entertainment.
Les Dawson’s sketch show series for ITV. On this series, you’ll see John Cleese, who regularly appeared in sketches with Dawson. I also have the Network release ‘Les Dawson at ITV’ which features several specials he recorded throughout his career, a fascinating release. I have Volume 1 which features the complete Series 3 and 4.
The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club
This was a show that was repeated on Granada Plus back in 1996; and even then, the episodes were edited to fit into 30 minute slots. If you’ve never heard of the show – let me try and describe it. Bernard Manning was the compere, introducing music and variety acts – some famous, some not so famous. Colin Crompton played the chairman of this fictional establishment – the set was perfectly made to look like a working men’s club, with the audience drinking and smoking as if they were indeed at their local watering hole. Variety is trying to make a comeback at the moment, with shows such as ‘Tonight at the Palladium’; I love watching the Wheeltappers – a like we will never see again!
The makers of the Wheeltappers also did a one-off special called ‘Summer Night Out’ which I remember seeing on Granada Plus, but sadly isn’t available on DVD at present. It’s a great episode – come on Network, get it released!
Network have, to date released three DVD’s, each with classic episodes from Alan Whicker’s time working for ITV. A great selection of episodes – but as I write, Network have announced they are to release the ITV Whicker back catalogue in full! There will be a full review of these new DVD’s right here – come back for further updates! There is no presenter like Whicker, Clive James for me got closest, Palin also close too. But no-one ever got close to Whicker.
My Wish List
So, Network if you read this – what would I still like in my collection? Feel free to send any spares 😉
Maigret – starring Michael Gambon. Watched four episodes recently on Now TV, but with a newborn etc… I didn’t get round to watching the other eight episodes before the show went off catch up!
Watching – loved this growing up, the complete series is available from Network. Again, a show that deserves a repeat airing.
Children’s Ward – Before Series 2, I had an audition to be on the show. It wasn’t to be! But it was a superb show, no other kids show was like it at the time for realism.
The Saint – classic Roger Moore series which yes, ITV4 repeat, but they only repeat the colour episodes and the majority of this series remains in the archive, not repeated on TV because the episodes are in monochrome!
Indoor League – Network have released two volumes of this cult series hosted by Fred Trueman.