Edge Of Darkness and others from BBC Worldwide

BBC Worldwide have announced the release of five classic series as part of their Classic Drama range, including Troy Kennedy Martin's Edge Of Darkness and Alan Bleasdale's Boys From The Blackstuff. The five titles were originally transmitted during the 70s and 80s and represent a number of the most fondly-remembered and influential programmes broadcast by the BBC.

All five titles are released on 26 May 2003 with a recommended retail price of £15.99 each. We hope this represents a new spirit within the BBC of reclaiming titles from third parties to publish excellent DVD packages on their own BBC Worldwide label.

Edge of Darkness

First shown in 1985, and starring Bob Peck (Jurassic Park, Macbeth) and Joanne Whalley (Singing Detective), Michael Wearing's Edge of Darkness won nine awards including six BAFTAs. Director Martin Campbell went on to Hollywood to direct blockbusters including The Mask of Zorro and GoldenEye.

As Yorkshire detective Ronald Craven investigates the murder of his daughter, the story spirals into a gripping eco-thriller of political conspiracy, secret service machinations and even shady mediaeval societies. As he draws closer to the dangerous inner sanctums of organised environmental protests and nuclear power interests, he discovers the ultimate truths at the heart of our society.
Music is by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton.

Extras on the DVD include:

  • Bob Peck interview from BBC Breakfast Time
  • The BAFTAs 1986 - including interviews with Bob Peck and Joe Don Baker
  • BBC Arts programme Did You See ...? reviews Edge of Darkness
  • Magnox - The Secrets of Edge of Darkness. Featuring contributions from writer Troy Kennedy Martin, producer Michael Wearing, composer Michael Kamen, and actors Bob Peck, Ian McNeice, Charles Kay and John Woodvine, series technical advisor Walt Patterson and visual effects designer Mat Irvine.
  • The Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 1986, featuring interviews with producer Michael Wearing and actor Bob Peck

It is 'Magnox - The Secrets of Edge of Darkness' that would be of most interest here, hopefully being a retrospective feature on the series by all those involved. The BBFC had a running time of 31mins for Edge Of Darkness extras that needed classification so presumably, this relates to 'Magnox...'

Unfortunately, there is still no commentary and the extras from the Revelation release do not appear to have been carried over but the big selling point should be the remastered picture. DVDTimes have already reviewed the second Revelation release of this series here but admitted that while the picture quality was acceptable, it could be bettered. With this release, that should now be the case but a further review will quantify that.

The cover art has also been updated but the image of Craven holding Emma's teddy remains:

Given the series on the Revelation releases ran to 307mins and the BBC release has the running time listed at approximately 400mins, the beginning and end credits to each episode would look to have been restored in addition to the extras. A full review will follow on release of this DVD.

Abigail's Party

In Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, the writer's eye for the embarrassing is at its sharpest. Beverly (Alison Steadman) takes advantage of a neighbour's teenage daughter's party to host a small gathering of her own for the adults. Beverly is wonderfully bitchy and has a reputation as a man-eating monster and she turns the social get-together into a virtual time bomb of emotional tension while her estate agent husband Lawrence is browbeaten and harassed .

Alison Steadman won two best actress awards for her portrayal of the bored, bitchy hostess in this savagely funny study of pretentious middle-class social manners.

Special features include:

  • Photo Gallery
  • Producer and director commentary
  • BBC Two's Abigail's Party night welcome, intro and goodbye

Abigail's Party is in the top 20 in the BFI's all-time top 100 British television programmes and stars Tim Stern, Janine Duvitski (Waiting for God), John Salthouse and Harriet Reynolds.

Boys from the Blackstuff

Alan Bleasdale's hugely acclaimed series, first shown in 1982, echoes the misery and despair of long-term unemployment. Set in Liverpool, these profoundly moving human dramas follow in turn the attempts of five working-class heroes to survive.

The Times described the series as "a major drama that defines the state of the nation"

Boys from the Blackstuff stars Bernard Hill (Titanic, Lord of the Rings), Michael Angelis (Lovejoy), and Julie Walters (Billy Elliot, Harry Potter). Extras on the DVD include a commentary from Alan Bleasdale and director Jim Goddard

The running time is listed at approximately 416mins.

Hotel du Lac

Starring Anna Massey, Patricia Hodge and Denholm Elliott, Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Anita Brookner's novel was shot on location in London and Switzerland and went on to win two CableACE, an RTS and 3 BAFTA awards. It was first transmitted in 1986.

Hotel du lac is the story of a young woman who is in disgrace with her family and friends for having a mind of her own over marriage. She retreats to a hotel on Lake Geneva where she makes some unexpected new acquaintances with their own sad stories - and encounters another tantalizing possibility of love.

DVD extras include:

  • Photo Gallery
  • Producer and director commentaries

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Made in 1979, the BBC this adaptation of John Le Carre's hugely popular spy novel was much-praised. It has a stellar cast including Sir Alec Guiness, Joss Ackland, Michael Aldridge, Ian Bannen, Anthony Bates and George Sewell.

The bespectacled spymaster is once again called from retirement to come to the aid of the 'circus' - and he returns with a vengeance. The murder of an emigre Soviet general who was also a British agent sends him digging into the past on a twisted trail across Europe that moves, inexorably, towards a final showdown with his old adversary, Karla of Moscow centre.

Extras on the DVD include:

  • Scene selection
  • Photo gallery
  • Producer and director commentary

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