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I was thrilled to find this series on video at my local library, so I
borrowed all copies. I'd been rapt in this series in the late 70's when
was shown on local TV, and again during its many repeats. This is superb
television - excellent writing, acting, evocative locations, authentic
- I could go on!
The characters of the members of the Seaton family are beautifully written and acted, and again, as 25 years ago, I feel that I know them. Jack Ford, played by James Bolam, is a subtle balance of strength and ambition, morality and compassion, but you wouldn't want to cross him! Bolam has a long list of credits to his name, but to me Jack Ford is his finest creation.
The producers brilliantly captured the struggle and destitution and stark inequalities of the post-World War l era in northern England. The Tyne-side accents, the `bonnie lads' and `tirra's' were like music in my ears - (even though I've never left the shores of this fair country!)
It was a pleasure to watch a story unfolding without extreme close-ups or hand-held cameras, which today simply interfere with the story-telling. I enjoy a TV program most when I feel I'm a priveleged, but unseen observer. "When The Boat Comes In" provides this level of enjoyment.
When The Boat Comes In is a gritty Northern drama, set in Newcastle just after the end of the Great War. It follows the trials of Ex-Sergeant Jack Ford and the Seaton family as they struggle with the problems of that time: The aftermath of the war, the great depression of the 1920's, trade union activists and an uncaring society. The characters also spend a lot of time drinking in and out of pubs! The props are good (some must be over 70 years old now) and outdoor shots are cleverly done, capturing the feel of streets and houses of the '20s (definitely no phone boxes or aircraft in the background!) James Bolam is convincing as Jack Ford, a cunning man who has seen ignorance and stupidity in the trenches and finds himself fighting against it in his role of Union boss during the peacetime.
This is a wonderful, well acted and produced saga of an England that many of us knew. I found the interaction between the various social levels, and the fierce determination to make it to the top of their goals in a difficult time and location to be truly believable. It was a well researched vehicle of a time and place that many my not know, but for those who do, it is an honest portrayal of hard times yet with many 'good times' Several folks on my ex-pats Liverpool lists have interest in obtaining the videos/discs. Why oh why can't it be produced in NTSC format. Is there not anyone out there who has some influence to have it reformatted so that those of us in a different 'format' area can enjoy it. We can of course order the DVD's in PAL format but with shipping, rate of exchange, probably duty (because of the number and therefore total cost) and the cost to convert it makes it cost prohibitive. Nita Jones Alexandria, Virginia
One of my favourite TV shows of all time. Not many shows on TV have I
set aside time for to make sure the show is never missed. This is one
of them - along with Auf Wiedersein Pet, The Good Life, Bouquet of
Barbed Wire, The Lovers (with Geoffrey Bubbles Bon Bon!), Not the Nine
o'Clock News, The Fast Show, Shine on Harvey Moon and recently, now I
live in Canada, the new HBO series Rome.
It was put your feet up time and settle down to a good old epic story of life, with fun, tears, laughter, trauma, love, lost love and love regained. Real.
Tell me its out on DVD please!
James Bolam came into his own as a mature actor, more than ably supported by his then wife Susan Jamieson. They, in turn, were supported by a fine cast of actors playing in roles that were gritty and not so gritty, full of pathos and ranging in ages that enabled all the viewers to identify with the characters and their situations.
I bought this series for my father as he watched when it was on first
time round in the UK (I am too young, just!)
I watched it with him and I really enjoyed it. The first three seasons are the best. With the Seatons and life just after World War one but season four just doesn't seem up to the same standard. Season four jumps all over the place there is no continuity (other than Jack Ford). There was a four year gap between season three and four, which might explain why it had lost it edge.
May be they should have stopped at three. If you like good drama then definitely one to watch, just a shame about the last season!
I recently purchased the box set of the entire series with some trepidation - it is expensive, especially when NZ dollars have to be converted to British pounds. Half way through the first episode, I said to my husband, "I remember this series as being good, but I hadn't realised just how good it is." Several discs further on, I have had no reason to revise that judgement. The writing is tight, the characters brilliantly conceived, written and portrayed, and the whole thing a great pleasure. The creation of the time and place is faultless. James Bolam - wonderful in everything he does - is superb, as are Susan Jameson, and Jean Heywood as her mother Bella. (It is great to see Bolam and Jameson again in the current 'New Tricks'.) They do NOT make 'em like this any more! This was money well spent.
Quite simply, for me , the best TV series ever. The dialect is County Durham mainly, not Tyneside. The scenes and locations totally authentic and now mainly long gone as the North East has moved into its post industrial era. The story line and acting mainly very believable and evocative of a period of our history we would be foolish and poorer to forget. This was how my grandparents lived, only they didn't open a shop. Their sons went to the second war, not the first. The independent spirit of the working people of the northeast is to a great degree intact despite the best efforts of successive Tory (including the coalition)governments to emasculate the area. And the title? I would ask my mam, could I have a certain toy or some sweets. The answer , because her purse was empty, You can have it "When the boat comes in".
I'm not sure what it is about James Bolam, but whatever he's in from
"The Likely Lads" right through to "New Tricks" he seems to carry the
In this though he's at his best, wheeling & dealing, there isn't a minute that goes by where he isn't on the make - both in money and his love life.
That being said he is being hard pushed by Jean Heywoood who plays the hard and gritty Bella, a woman with the world on her shoulders but most times with a smile on her face and a gin in her hand.
Susan Jameson plays a tough talking socialist (it's quite amazing how often she seems to put on great performances with JB) who you just want to thump and say "stop being so stupid woman!".
I agree with a previous reviewer in that series 4 does rather let the programme down. It does appear that this may have been a case of greedy TV executives trying to squeeze out every last bit of revenue from a hit series. In fact I think "When the boat comes in" would definitely have scored 10/10 if it hadn't been for this.
Surprising then that it hasn't been shown more often on TV - but perhaps they are still making too much money out of the DVD to give people the opportunity of seeing it free again.
However keep listening out for "You shall have a fishy on a little dishy" - you never know
Thanks to DVD I am now watching this entire series, all the way through for the second time in 3 years. It is difficult to explain to younger people these days, what with CGI and Dolby Sound how much more believable the string and sealing wax era of TV drama was but each time I watch these programs I am more authentically taken back the 1920s Gallowshields than anything I watch nowadays. The writing, the acting, the direction - they are all first class and although James Bolam steals the show, his supporting cast are all fine actors. Personally, I find it hard to think of a better example of acting than Bolam's transformation in the final series from a man down on his luck to a successful businessman. The second episode of that series is probably one of my favourite episodes of them all and a fine example of understated but compelling acting. Until this program I doubt anyone had ever really understood the immense impact that the first world war had on individuals because we are a generation who has been so influenced by the second one. As I reach the end of the fourth series I am always saddened to think that there will be no more. Still, thanks to DVD I'll still be able to watch it all again at some point in the future.
I recently purchased the complete series DVD, and have just finished series 2. I first watched this series 30 years ago, and could remember only parts of it., but recalled it was good. This time around it stands head & shoulders above anything currently on TV.James Bolam is outstanding, as is the whole cast throughout. The one thing that stands out for me also, is how the writer developed the story lines, from a simple soap type beginning to the drama it became-brilliant stuff. If you want to see how good TV once was, and can be, then treat yourself to this superb series. The only fault with the DVD I found was the audio was a little faint at times, but it did not detract from the overall enjoyment. Other than this minor fault, I thoroughly recommend it.Bravo to all!
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