Universal Playback to release TV comedy classics in their entirety
Preview by Jack Foley
WARM those long dark winter evenings with classic helpings of birthing calves, wrinkly stockings, nobbly knees and the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies when Universal Playback releases the complete box sets for some of your classic sit-com favourites.
The complete collection of All Creatures Great and Small, ‘Allo ‘Allo and Hi-De-Hi are being released on DVD on November 9, promising to send viewers on a warm-hearted nostalgia trip through some of the small screen’s funniest moments.
’Allo ’Allo – The Complete Collection
World War II was never saucier, sexier or more chaotique as René Artois (immortalised by Gordon Kaye), a café owner in the Nazi-occupied Frairnch town of Nouvion, makes more and more absurde attempts to appease a range of opposing factions, friend and foe alike, wizout being killed.
Colonel von Strohm is a friend to René, but exploits ze café to hide a stolen painting (ze now iconic Fallen Madonna wiz ze Big Boobies by Van Klomp) that he plans to sell after ze war to fund his retirement.
Unfortunately, Hitler also wants ze painting and has sent Gestapo agent Otto Flick to recover it. But the Germans aren’t René‘s only problème.
The Frairnch Résistance, led by Michelle, force him to aid zair persistent attempts to return two bumbling British airmen to England, while all ze time René must keep secret from his wife his long-running affairs wiz both his waitresses or risk losing his cherished café.
Over nine series, 85 shows and 10 years, catchphrases blossomed and ze plot thickened wiz every new episode. Outrageous twists, turns, cliffhangers and black silk lingerie have made ’Allo ’Allo le foie gras of TV sitcom legend thanks to David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd.
All Creatures Great and Small – The Complete Collection
This deeply affectionate slice of nostalgia charts the gentle and beautifully comic experiences of the young James Herriot as a Yorkshire vet from the 1930s to the early ’50s.
It serves too as a lingering testament to the time-honoured British love for their animals. The series reflects a time when life moved at a slower pace, following faithfully Herriot’s tales of all manner of animal ailments – in now famously anatomical detail!
In 1937, a newly-qualified surgeon arrives in the picturesque village of Darrowby to take up his first job in the established veterinary practice of Sigfried and Tristan Farnon.
But in rural Yorkshire, with few medicines available, the treatment of sick animals still seems rooted in the Dark Ages. Together with the country-folk’s inherent suspicion of strangers, this poses problems for James Herriot in the early years of his career.
Gradually, James establishes himself with the locals. He courts and eventually marries Helen, becomes a family man, and over the next 20 years, James, his family and friends share in the joys and heartaches of caring for the many wonderful creatures that become part of their world.
With 90 episodes over seven series’, and delightful performances from Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy and Peter Davison, All Creatures Great and Small is the definitive Sunday-night-TV staple and a shining example of home-grown television at its very best.
Hi-De-Hi – The Complete Collection
From the legendary Jimmy Perry and David Croft comes the Complete DVD Collection of that hymn to the great British holiday, Hi-De-Hi.
The popular show offers a heady brew that is part Carry On-style farce, part class comedy and part nostalgic romp. Based on Perry’s own experiences working as a Butlin’s Redcoat following the war, it was set at the fictional Maplin’s holiday camp in 1959.
As the new season starts, the staff are baffled to discover the place is now being run by Jeffrey Fairbrother (Simon Cadell), a Cambridge archaeology professor who’s looking for a change of scene.
The bashful, softly spoken boffin is clearly ill-suited to his new posting and immediately provokes the ire of comic Ted Bovis (Paul Shane), a shyster of the first order who had his eye on the job.
In contrast, Welsh senior “Yellowcoat”, smouldering Gladys Pugh (Ruth Madoc), is very taken with the new arrival. Meanwhile, all Peggy Olerenshaw (Su Pollard), the over-excitable chalet maid who won viewers’ hearts, can think of is becoming a Yellowcoat.
Weighing in with ten series’ and 58 episodes, Hi-De-Hi was one of the very biggest comedy series of the ’80s, regularly drawing in 13 million viewers and won the BAFTA for Best Comedy in 1984.