Sykes – Complete Series DVD Review

Sykes – The Complete Series DVD Review

Released Monday June 26th 2017

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And now, courtesy of Network DVD – you can watch Sykes, the classic BBC sitcom – starring Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques.  Network DVD’s catalogue is full of great titles – my shelves are bursting with Benny Hill, On The Buses, The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and many more.  Sykes is another gem for any TV collector.
The last time ‘Sykes’ had a repeat run on TV was on early mornings on GOLD, but that was at least a couple of years ago.  BBC2 screened a selection of episodes back in the mid 1990’s – and that’s when I first came across the series, and loved it instantly.  I don’t understand why the show isn’t repeated now on Drama or Yesterday, instead of the same few classic sitcoms they do repeat.  Having watched these DVD’s, I can assure you, it’s as funny as ever.

 

The first colour series was released by Network many years ago, and then deleted – with no further episodes being released for a long time. Thankfully, that’s now changed. 68 episodes are available on this release, containing all seven colour series from the sitcom’s run.
Now to clarify something which a couple of people had asked me about whilst I was reviewing this title. There was a previous series, ‘Sykes and a…’ which ran from 1960-1965. 59 episodes were made in monochrome, but only 25 of these survive. However, these are not in this boxset, the episodes included start from 1972. But, bear in mind that 43 of the Sykes colour episodes were remakes of scripts from the 1960’s series!
Series One even includes some DVD extras, just like Network’s original release did. The behind the scenes footage from 1972 is absolutely brilliant, and this continues throughout the three discs of Series One. There’s also a short feature to show how Series One was restored by Network, before being released on DVD – a great deal of work going into the original Series One release.
From Series Two to Seven (the series never before commercially available), there are no extras. But all of the classic episodes, including the Christmas Specials throughout its run.
My favourite episodes are ‘Six Million Dollar Sykes’ from Series Seven – who shows Sykes as the Bionic Man! Stranger from Series One, featuring Peter Sellers is an absolute classic. ‘Window Smasher’ is another favourite of mine.
One of the show’s great characters was neighbour Mr. Brown, played by Richard Wattis – who sadly passed away before the fourth series was made. Derryck Guyler was also brilliant as Corky, the neighbourhood policeman.
Hattie Jacques, who starred along Eric Sykes, sadly died the year after Sykes ended – on 6th October 1980, aged just 58.
There’s over 32 hours of comedy in this boxset – RRP is £89.99. You can purchase the series at http://networkonair.com/coming-soon/2604-sykes-the-complete-series

Chris

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All Star Comedy Carnival – DVD Review

If you’re after a last-minute gift idea – then Network DVD have released ‘All Star Comedy Carnival’, which was a regular Christmas Day fixture on ITV between 1969 and 1973.

The 1969-1971 shows don’t exist anymore in the archives, apart from one 9 minute extract from the 1969 show, which is included here in glorious colour, from Granada Television’s hit sitcom ‘The Dustbinmen’.

The 1972 and 1973 shows are here on this DVD in full.  It’s brilliant to see them here – I’ve seen bits before, in poor quality You Tube clips – the video quality on this DVD is excellent.

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The 1972 show is 94 minutes long, and was originally transmitted between 5:45pm and 7:30pm!  Jimmy Tarbuck hosts this spectacular, a combination of efforts between the big ITV companies – Thames, LWT, Granada, etc all working together to provide material for the big Christmas Day show!

Love Thy Neighbour is the first sketch – warning: some viewers may be offended by some of the language in this segment.  We then see Rod Hull greet Jimmy Tarbuck before going into ‘Nearest and Dearest’ with Hylda Baker.  The comedy continues… ‘Father Dear Father’ with Patrick Cargill…  ‘Thirty Minutes Worth’… there’s even ‘Christmas with Wogan’ – a great tribute after his passing earlier this year.  For me, the 1972 highlight is a sketch from ‘On The Buses’ – one of my favourite comedies of all time.  I’ve never seen this sketch before, shot on film, it’s good fun… sadly no Reg Varney in the sketch.  There’s more!  We see ‘Sez Les’ – the Yorkshire TV sketch show starring Les Dawson and the final sketch is from ‘The Fenn Street Gang’.  Musical interludes too along the way!

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The 1973 show is 79 minutes long, and was originally transmitted between 6:00pm and 7:30pm!  Jimmy Tarbuck back hosting once again.  ‘Man About the House’ is the first sketch – I’ve been watching the ITV3 repeats recently, so it was great to see this stand-alone excerpt.  We then see ‘Billy Liar’, more ‘Sez Les’, a sketch from ATV Leslie Crowther sitcom ‘My Good Woman’, ‘Spring and Autumn’ and finally ‘Doctor in Charge’.

And that was it – the show didn’t return in 1974…  who knows why?  It seems a strong format, similar to the BBC’s ‘Christmas Night with the Stars’ format around the same time.  At almost three hours long, this is brilliant viewing for the festive season – that now, thankfully, we can enjoy once again.  Chris

The DVD of All Star Comedy Carnival was complimentary but all views are my own.

Whicker’s World… Back on DVD

By Craig Robert Whitfield.

Craig:     

What does the name Alan Whicker mean to the Pokemon generation? Very little I suspect. Today, you might think about Simon Reeve and Michael Palin when considering TV globe trotters. They provide an insight into the history, culture and politics of many obvious and obscure countries and societies today. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that they would cite Alan Whicker as their inspiration. After all it was he who essentially created the concept of world travel documentary film making. 

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A perfect gentleman who wearing his famous  dark rimmed glasses and always sporting a smart blazer, shirt and tie created and set the standard. In some respects his outfits didn’t always fit the assignment but Alan maintained his identity by sticking to this formula. We should not forget his moustache which was equally part of the Whicker legend.

Whicker, always at ease treated his subject matter seriously and wasn’t afraid to ask those difficult, awkward and honest questions to those he interviewed.  It all started for Alan on the Tonight show filming shorts for the show. These were often informative and humourous but they didn’t extend beyond our island, was offered little air time and filmed always in black and white.

Later, after the Tonight show’s demise was born Whickers World, his very own show. In it’s early incarnation these were 30 minute documentaries which considered many subjects, and although he considered some subjects that again concentrated on these shores he was finally free to jump on a plane and travel to the New World. This early series made by Yorkshire TV set the tone for what was to follow later and for the first time we had the opportunity to see in Alan in colour and he made the most of this with his more colourful shirts.

From the 17 episodes viewed and available those such as Let’s Have an Airport, The Glorious Twelfth, The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World, Singles Inc and others have left their mark on me. Even if you just watch these 4 episodes you will see for yourself Alan  showcasing his spectrum of brilliance. From black and white to the transition to colour, humour to hard hitting journalism, support to cynicism it’s all there. This is TV documentary making in its infancy and yet the standard has as I write yet to be bettered.

Chris’s Summary:

Many thanks to Craig for the excellent review above.  When the DVD starts, the Yorkshire Television Chevron appears… with a monochrome shot of a plane taking off.  What else could it be apart from Alan Whicker.  I’m watching the first release of Network’s new chronological Alan Whicker releases, with the being to release every single episode Whicker made for ITV, in the original broadcast order.

The first episode starts not far from Yorkshire TV’s studios, just down the road at Leeds Bradford Airport (I work just five minutes away from the airport now!).  The first colour episode is ‘The Glorious Twelfh’ – with one of the first colour images being Whicker walking over the Yorkshire Moors in his infamous immacuate suit, this image stayed the same throughout his career.

Volume 1 – Whicker

Editions included are:

Let’s Have An Airport

The Trainers

The Glorious Twelfth

Water, Water

The Aristocracy Business

The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World

The Road from Rose Linda’s

A Right Royal Fiesta

After Us – What? Penguins

 

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Volume 2- Whicker’s New World

Volume 2 is Whicker’s New World.  This has over four hours of more fascinating episodes from 1969, including one famous interview with Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier.

Editions included are:

Immortality Inc.

Micromedia Inc.

Swingles Inc.

Papa Doc: The Black Sheep

Tenderlovingcare Inc.

Bodysnatchers Inc.

Happy-Happy Inc.

Carl Gustav Von Rosen: Pugnacious Pacifist

To buy Volume 2 click here – http://networkonair.com/shop/2421-whicker-s-world-02-whicker-s-new-world-5027626452643.html