Oliver (we never learn whether this is his first name or his surname) is a middle-aged lecturer in Comparative Religion, with a passion for trivia, crosswords and anagrams, and a very strange taste in jokes. Having been made redundant from the University of the Rhondda Valley, and with no family ties, he decides to set off on a quest to find "Aristotle", a setter of crosswords. He soon teams up with WPC Diane Priest, who has just been suspended from the police force because she has been asking too many questions about a local murder that seems to implicate the Chief Constable. Pursued by Baxter ("the man with no name"), Oliver and Diane visit Shrewsbury, North Yorkshire, Durham, Hadrian's Wall and Kirkleven (in the Scottish highlands) on their journey to find "Aristotle" in the Orkney Isles. Along the way they uncover a major scandal centred around a property company. The laconic humour and the laid-back style are similar in many ways to The Beiderbecke Affair (1985), The Beiderbecke ... Written by
When Alan Plater wrote the novel "Oliver's Travels" on which this TV series is based, he dedicated it to his friend and fellow resident of Hull, Tom Courtenay. When the BBC decided to dramatise the novel for TV, Plater hoped that Courtenay would play Oliver, and was not pleased either with the casting of Alan Bates or with the way that Giles Foster directed the series. See more »
I've shared the prior lamentations that "Oliver's Travels" was neither available on home video nor, to my knowledge, had it been repeated on PBS. Now, try AcornOnline--dot--you-know-what or, alternately, see the Amazon listing (less $$) for March 2005 delivery.
This miniseries is a delightful, skillful blend of humor, mystery, suspense, intrigue, crime, romance, history, and travelogue. Crosswords and anagrams also figure as important plot elements. (Oliver can make an anagram out of almost anything but his own name.)
At the story's center is a villainous multinational corporation which has sucked many of the characters into its vortex. Although details of this operation remain vague and shadowy to the end, the conclusion is nonetheless satisfying.
The "Travels" concluded in the Orkney Islands, and by then, I was ready to hop on the next plane to there.
So enjoyable on many levels! Absolutely first rate!
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