Reviews written by registered user
|11 reviews in total|
I am surprised that there are so few contributions for this show! Well written and acted but I guess that it was set in such a depressing period it failed to really catch on as light entertainment. Regard it as a dramatised documentary it is hard to fault. I suppose it had a special pull for me as it was set in the period when my parents were setting up home and it had echoes of their stories. I have yet to see the final series although I guess it was not as good (no follow on from that series ) so perhaps it is just as well that the first impressions are my last. I saw most of the reruns when shown on the Yesterday channel last year and for me it held up very well. I am sure that the author was being semi-autobiographical as he captures the aspirations, dreams and perspectives of the period so well.
It is rather sad that someone who could secure regular TV work for well
over a decade should be so little commented on. No doubt this is mainly
due to the low key nature of his comedy, nothing "edgy" about it. It is
hard to believe that more that 2/3 of his TV recordings were wiped. One
"recording" that will never be wiped is the opening to his show moments
after the BBC made a news announcement, unusually, between shows
stating that President Kennedy had been shot. The incongruity of the
news insert followed seconds later with the sheer silliness of a middle
aged man playing reflections on a shop window in his standard opening
is often rebroadcast when there is a documentary about Kennedy in order
to comment on how ill-prepared the BBC was to handle such news.
His radio recordings were mostly kept and the BBC is currently rebroadcasting them so you can recapture what held the attention of audiences for years.
It has been a decade or more since I last saw this film. In 1942 it
must have been very close to British audience. Nowadays most people
still are aware of the evacuation from Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) but
the evacuation from Normandy and other points along the coast
(Operation Ariel) is far less well known even although nearly as many
British troops were brought home by Ariel as by Dynamo. The film did
not dwell too much on the grim conditions (the audience wanted a bit of
escapism after all) but conveyed the notion that no-one knows when they
will be called on to "do their bit" for victory and hopefully rise to
By the time of the release of the film the Battle of Midway had been won, the Germans had 57 tanks in North Africa and Generals January and February had taken their toll of the Germans in the Eastern Front. Although the Battle of the Atlantic had yet to be won the audience had grounds for optimism. The film had to have been made before it was clear that the tide had turned so it was quite remarkable that it should have hit just the right note.
Looks like, according to others, that this film was made in the old
Hollywood tradition of never letting the facts stand in the way of a
good story. No matter, it captures the atmosphere of the struggle in
spirit and if it spurs one to use Google to learn the details properly
so much the better.
The film fails to explain a few details, such as why his proposal was passed nearly unanimously in 1807, nearly passed 20 years earlier - but nothing much in between. Answer - war, or the immediate threat of war, with French resulting in the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. The film did explain that any British withdrawal from the trade would just allow the French and others to fill the resulting vacuum. No gain there but after the French and Spanish fleets were destroyed n 1805 there was no chance of any vacuum being created. The potential costs of banning the trade dropped sharply.
Again, the film was a bit vague about distinguishing between abolishing the trans-Atlantic trade in slaves and abolishing slavery itself in the West Indies. That took another generation and another revolution - the railways - to enable that.
The struggle for Parliamentary Reform had been going on just as long. It had been opposed as being a risk too far - look at what happened during the French Revolution. However in 1830 a railway between Manchester and Liverpool was opened. A few months later a riot broke out near the line in Liverpool. Word was passed to an army barracks, also near the line, on the outskirts of Manchester. A train was commandeered, filled with troops and sent rapidly on its way to Liverpool. The troops delivered, riot cleared - all within 2 hours!!! A year earlier it would have taken 2 days!!! With the balance of power shifting so sharply in favour of the forces of order resistance to Parliamentary Reform weakened so much that it was finally achieved by 1832 - and the new Parliament finally voted for the abolition of slavery itself in 1833 (although it took a few years to be fully rolled out). Cause and effect.
(Trivia: The Duke of Clarence depicted in the film had his mistress housed in the same road that Boris Karloff was born. Is that why so many cinematic liberties were taken with his character?)
Oh dear - no-one has commented so far on a TV show with over 150
episodes!!! I hope that someone (newly retired?) comes to the rescue
soon. Maybe someone who worked in its production can fill things out a
Unfortunately I am too young to remember any details - I only have impressions left. One strong impression is how the show revolved around "Bootsie and Snudge"! (Was that just because there was a series of those two characters after they "left" the army?) One thing I am sure of is that Alfie Bass (series 1 to 4) and Bill Fraser (series 2 to 4) must have done well over 100 episodes each - not the 3 listed! I do hope someone from Granada sets the record straight sometime soon! Apparently the surviving episodes are now available on DVD. I wonder if the show, so much of its period, would make much sense to modern viewers.
Some trivia - its theme tune, accompanied by singing from its cast, reached no5 in the UK singles chart!
There is not that much that I can add to what has already been stated.
The script is nothing special - competent but hardly outstanding. The
cast, at the time of filming, contained only one star name - and Joseph
Cotton's films of late were nothing great. The two rising starlets had
ability and visual appeal - noticed by the business - but their names
would only pull in paying customers a year or two after this film was
Despite all of that just look at all of the people who have taken the time to comment on this film. It is memorable. It is significant. It simply must have something special. I can only assume that the film-makers were responding to the new challenge from TV. Why make the effort and pay extra to see a film if there was plenty of free(ish) entertainment laid on at home? The film-makers decided to lay on the visual spectacle in order to provide the draw. They clearly succeeded this with this one.
Scenery had been important in films before - particularly in Westerns - but this is the first film that I can think of where it was central. It was not just a travelogue, although that aspect of it must have appealed to the audience, especially those living more than 500 miles from Niagara and it gave a close up view that postcards or books could not match. It would have been a "trip of a lifetime" to go there before cheap jet flights made such a trip attainable for most people. The formula seems to have been successful and has been repeated ever since.
(Someone commented that the story a bit less elevated than one would expect of the "Eisenhower era" - but the film was released in February 1953, just a few weeks after Eisenhower was inaugurated. The outdoor location shots look as if they were done in September 1952 (not too crowded but the trees are still green). I suspect that all the studio filming was completed by the time of election. By the time all of the editing and distribution issues had been settled Eisenhower had arrived - and had no impact on the film!)
I am glad that this site has been updated since I last looked in - when
Effie Morrison was only credited with 4 episodes!!! Now it is up to a
more realistic 38! The lack of content until recently explains why
there are so few comments on this popular and long lived series.
I am too young to remember many of the episodes well - so any reminders would be most welcome! However I did grow up near to where the original writer, A J Cronin, grew up and the production team did a very good job in creating the right ambiance. It is recommended that anyone read up on A J Cronin in order to understand what his stories are based on. He first wrote "Country Doctor" in 1935 and followed by "Adventures of a Black Bag" and "Further Adventures of a Black Bag" on which the Dr Finlay is based - as well as a string of Oscar nominations from his "Citadel" and "The Stars Looked Down". Noel Coward also relied on him for the medical specialities of the doctor in "Brief Encounter".
A lot of the "human interest" of his stories would have come not just from his own experiences but also those of his paternal grandparents, who ran a pub in the district, and from his mother - who was Scotland's first female public health inspector!
Although he practised medicine in South Wales, when he qualified as a doctor from Glasgow, Dr Finlay is definitely set in his home district on the River Leven, which leaves Loch Lomond and ends up going into the River Clyde after a 6 mile run and a 25 foot drop. Unfortunately some industry was attracted to the limited power of the river - leaving few postcard opportunities in the towns for the TV crews!
The first 6 episodes were filmed on the edge of Glasgow at Milngavie's Tannoch Loch and on Tannoch Drive (A J Cronin's choice of name for the town was "Levenford" not "Tannochbrae") On such details does destiny spin! Once the BBC knew that it could pull in an audience it upped the budget and spent enough money to film in somewhere pretty. In fact the views from Callander to the surrounding hills are much of a muchness with those that A J Cronin saw from his hometown - but the towns are chalk and cheese! Viewers escapism won out! (Probably just as well!)
It is already listed but if you want to see the street where the family
was "living" go to Hartland Road, just off Chalk Farm Road, just north
of Camden Market. It is amazing how little has changed! (except the
price of property!) It is odd to think that the street in which the
film was set in such a period of shortages is now so close to such
Also nice to note that is the fact that "Rose"- Googie Withers and "lover boy" John McCallum married each other for real in the year that the film was made and are still alive and married to each other today!
I wonder if films which are so "depressing" could be made today. Maybe the audience is just not there anymore. Conditions have improved since then and film-makers have to relate to their current audiences (usually under 25!)
Marvellous attention to period detail. Atmosphere more important than
substance! If one wants to while away an hour or so on mindless quality
rubbish this is hard to beat! If one has any complaints about them
please do not do so to the BBC - it was made by a commercial TV
Even BBC America broadcasts productions from commercial channels so do some checking before appearing foolish!
I have seen the filming crews in action a couple of times. They particularly liked Lubetkin's "HighPoint" in Highgate (I have lost count of the number of episodes it appears in) - and they managed to film "Evil Under the Sun" on Burgh Island, in Devon, where Agatha Christie actually wrote the story (published 1941)! (Mind you it looked as if they were filming in October rather than the more appropriate July/August. I hope the cast did not suffer too much.)
Most points have already been made - a sub Noel Cowardesque script but
still stands up as light entertainment. (Maybe my age is showing).
Supposedly set in the country but actually filmed at Osterley Park
under the flight path to Heathrow airport!!! I am not sure that the
outdoor shots could be filmed there today with all that noise! Anyway -
it still looks good!
Google:- National Trust UK Osterley Park
I have some snaps of the livestock munching away in its the fields but I guess a herd of cattle, horses or a flock of water fowl looks much the same another somewhere else. Worth a trip if you have the time (but it sure costs a lot more than "a half-crown" nowadays!!!)
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