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April’s Top DVDs selected by Simon Evans


Crossroads DVDCrossroads – The Noele Gordon Collection

(Network, DVD)

The recent ITV drama series Nolly was devoted to the much-loved actress Noele Gordon, whose character Meg Richardson reigned supreme at the fictional Crossroads motel from 1964 to 1981. And it will no doubt have revived interest in the Birmingham-set soap which was, of course, famous for its wobbly sets and wooden acting, always slightly unfair given the show’s demanding production schedule.

This box set – all 94 discs of it – may be regarded as a magnificent folly; who, after all, would want to spend a large chunk of their allotted span following the minutiae of life in a Midland motel – if such a thing even exists? But looked at through heavily rose-tinted spectacles the show still has its charms, not least that fabulous Tony Hatch theme tune, but also because it provides a flavour of what everyday life was really like in the Sixties and Seventies, acting out on screen those mundane everyday dramas that resonated with millions of people at the time.

This box set includes every surviving episode from Noele Gordon’s tenure on Crossroads – some 700 shows – as well as interviews and documentaries. At £130 it’s a time travel ticket that’s actually a bit of a bargain.


The_First_And_Only_Hurst DVDHurst: The First and Only

(Dazzler Media, Blu-ray and DVD)

Geoff Hurst is the 1966 World Cup hero who nearly wasn’t. He only played his first game for England in February of that landmark year, and was passed over for the prolific striker Jimmy Greaves for the three group games of the 1966 tournament. Only when Greaves was injured for the quarter-final was Hurst given his chance, holding his place for the final even though his rival was by now fully fit. It is said that Greaves never recovered from being omitted for that triumphant game, but it was the making of Hurst, who scored a hat-trick as England lifted the trophy for the one and only time.

This excellent film, a must for football lovers of all ages, charts this remarkable high-point in Hurst’s life and career, but also reveals the tragedy has suffered during his life, the loss of his brother, who took his own life, and the death of a daughter because of a brain tumour. And, in a sign of how different times were for footballers back in the Sixties and Seventies – even World Cup winners – within six years of his career coming to an end Hurst was on the dole.

Quiet, unassuming, the very antithesis of today’s egotistical, pampered superstars, Geoff Hurst embodies the very best of the beautiful game, and this fond but revealing documentary fully does him justice. The title, of course is slightly out of date since Hurst is no longer the only player to have scored a hat trick in a World Cup Final. He remains, however, the one and only Englishman to do so, and it is hard to see that particular record being equalled any time soon.


Gerry_Anderson_Presented_in_Super_Colourisation_DVDPresented in SuperColorisation

(Network, Blu-ray)

Gerry Anderson’s ground-breaking shows of the Sixties – Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet – were all made in colour at a time when most households viewing was in old-fashioned black and white. Gerry’s earlier shows, however, had been made in black and white so youngsters had to use their imagination – or read TV Century 21 comic – to see their favourite characters from Fireball XL5 and Supercar in colour. Well, the waiting is over, for, more than 60 years on, this release features several newly colourised episodes of Fireball XL5 and Supercar as well as one of Gerry’s surreal western Four Feather Falls. The fantastical Fireball XL5 episodes, in particular, benefit from the colourisation, which was achieved using on-air stills. This is a real treat for Sixties kids.


Father_Brown_Series_10_DVDFather Brown: Series 10

(Dazzler Media, Blu-ray and DVD)

Mark Williams, that most likable of actors, was surely born to play Father Brown, the crime-solving vicar based on GH Chesterton’s much-loved series of novels set in a Fifties village. He’s on top of his game in this latest series, which is a good thing as some fans were less than happy at the cast ‘refresh’ that resulted in the loss of much-loved characters Bunty, Mrs McCarthy and Inspector Mallory. Although these changes take a little getting used to the reliably cosy series soon picks up with storylines that include a gentlemen’s club owner found dead, a royal visit and – shock, horror – bikers in the village, not to mention the return of Father Brown’s nemesis Flambeau.


Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Series 2 DVD

(Acorn Media International, DVD)

This Australian series brings the Swinging Sixties vividly to life as it follows the adventures of intrepid, if improbably-named, detective Peregrine Fisher. It is the follow-up to the popular Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, based on Kerry Greenwood's series of Phryne Fisher detective novels, Peregrine being the niece of the formidable Phryne, who is missing presumed dead in the jungles of Papua new Guinea. Helped by Detective James Steed (yes he is a homage to John Steed of Avengers fame) Peregrine solves a series of colourful crimes, including, in this second series, an unfortunate decapitation (aren’t they always), a bird-themed murder, and the death of a pop star at her own New Year’s Eve party. A box set combining both Series 1 and 2 is also available.



Also available

Babylon DVDDamien Chazelle’s film Babylon (Paramount, Blu-ray and DVD) simultaneously celebrates the magic of film while revelling in its egomania and decadence…

Finding Joy Series 2 DVDIrish actress and writer Amy Huberman returns as the lovable eponymous journalist turned social media influencer in the hilarious second series of the comedy series Finding Joy (Acorn Media International, DVD)…

Harry Wild Series 1 DVDJane Seymour plays a literature professor turned detective in the hugely enjoyable first series of Harry Wild (Acorn Media International, DVD)…


Dance Craze DVDDance Craze (BFI, Blu-ray and DVD), originally released in 1981, celebrates the rise of 2Tone music, with performances from British ska’s leading exponents, The Specials, The Beat, Madness, Bad Manners and The Selecter…

EO DVDPolish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s charming EO (BFI, Blu-ray and DVD) is a road movie with a difference, following the donkey whose name gives the film its title as he progresses across Italy and Poland, encountering human cruelty and kindness along the way…

Saraband_for_dead_lovers DVDSaraband for Dead Lovers (StudioCanal Vintage Classics, Blu-ray and DVD) is a new restoration of the British 1948 romance set in 17th century Prague and filmed in the Czech capital. Starring Flora Robson, Joan Greenwood, Stewart Granger and Basil Dearden it was Ealing Studios’ first Technicolor release and, at the time of production, its most expensive film to date…



French Dispatch DVDIn The French Dispatch (Searchlight, Blu-ray) award-winning director Wes Anderson, brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city…

Knock at the cabin DVDM Night Shyamalan’s latest, Knock At The Cabin (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD and Blu-ray) is a typically involving thriller about a tight-knit family who are taken hostage by four armed strangers while staying at a remote cabin…

Living_Its_Never_Too_Late_to_Start DVDAnd Bill Nighy earned a deserved Oscar nomination for his role in Living (Lionsgate, DVD and Blu-ray), playing a civil servant in 1953 London facing a fatal illness and trying to make sense of what is left of his life.




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