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3 acclaimed UK TV mini-series from the 70s & 80s on DVD in October

2 October 2014

Simply Media have announced the UK DVD release of three mini-series titles from British TV past: Michael J. Bird’s acclaimed Cyrus-set supernatural thriller, The Aphrodite Inheritance; the 1988 BBC adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, The Rainbow; and Frederic Raphael's BAFTA nominated tale of Cambridge University friends, The Glittering Prizes.

The Aphrodite Inheritance (1979)

When British engineer Barry Collier is injured in an accident in Cyprus, his brother David (Peter McEnery) immediately flies out to be at his side... but it is too late. After the funeral David is approached by the beautiful Helene (Alexandra Bastedo), eager to inform him that the death was no accident. And her mysterious companions Basileos (Brian Blessed) and Charalambos (Stefan Gryff) seem to know a great deal more. But can he trust them? Collier finds himself drawn into a complex conspiracy filled with intriguing characters and increasingly strange experiences as he tries to unravel the truth behind his brother’s death.

Screenwriter Michael J Bird is best known for his collection of relationship-based dramas set in the Mediterranean. The Lotus Eaters confirmed his position as one of the UK’s top TV writers. Who Pays the Ferryman? made him one of the hottest names in original contemporary drama, which led to an enormous demand and anticipation for a third series.

The Aphrodite Inheritance did not disappoint. Audiences and critics were enthralled and captivated by the change of direction. More of a thriller than his previous creations, the drama featured mystery, mythology and murder. The story is based on the discovery of a secret tomb of the goddess Aphrodite in Cyprus. What Bird did not know whilst developing the storylines is that there is a popular legend on Cyprus that a tomb does exist and is buried somewhere on the island!

As Bird had previous written for the BBCs Paul Temple drama, Aphrodite was reminiscent of the Francis Durbridge detective thriller series. The casting and location added to the allure of the series. Filmed in Cyprus the beautiful scenery enhanced the supernatural quality of the series, and Peter McEnery cut a fine-looking leading man opposite the stunning Alexandra Bastedo.

The Aphrodite Inheritance will be released on UK DVD as a 2-disc set on 20th October 2014 by Simply Media at a yet to be confirmed RRP.

The Rainbow (1988)

Ursula Brangwen is the beautiful, naive daughter of a wealthy country squire, one of five children living in the Nottinghamshire mining heartland at the turn of the century. From wide-eyed sixteen-year-old to fully grown woman, the drama follows Ursula through the trials and tribulations of her burgeoning personal relationships in her quest to find fulfilment for her developing passionate and sensual nature.

This highly acclaimed three part mini-series was Imogen Stubbs’ break-through role while the supporting cast includes Kate Buffery as Ursula’s swimming instructor Winifred Inger and Tom Bell as Old Tom Brangwen. Martin Wenner plays soldier Anton Skrebensky with Jon Finch as Uncle Tom.

The BBCs acclaimed TV adaptation of DH Lawrence’s controversial and ground-breaking novel remains unsurpassed to this day. When first broadcast in 1988, the sexual subject matter, whilst tame by today’s standards, was still considered taboo.

The sensuous production was repeated on numerous occasions on the BBC – such was the critical acclaim and audience demand – as much for the superior quality of the script, acting and cinematography, as for the provocative storyline.

Imogen Stubbs starred as Ursula in what would become a break-through role, leading to a long and successful career in film and TV. The production was critically acclaimed in the UK, US and Australia – and is the subject of chatter and searches across numerous social media platforms. The series also stars Martin Wenner, Tom Bell and Jon Finch.

The Rainbow will be released on UK DVD by Simply Media on 20th October 2014 at a yet to be confirmed RRP.

The Glittering Prizes (1976)

Written by award-winning screen-writer and novelist Frederic Raphael, The Glittering Prizes is the critically acclaimed series of six teleplays chronicling the changing lives of friends who first meet at Cambridge University.

Tom Conti (Shirley Valentine, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) stars as would-be novelist Adam Morris with Mark Wing-Davey and Nigel Havers among his college peers. Barbara Kellerman, Malcolm Stoddard, Connie Booth, Miriam Margolyes and Tim Pigott-Smith also feature among the cast.

Meeting as undergraduates in the early fifties, the drama explores the hopes and dreams of a group of idealistic young students, following their intertwining lives into the turbulent sixties, and on through the successes and disillusionments of the seventies as they achieve contrasting levels of worldly success. Literate, witty and bitingly satiric, it was nominated for a Best Drama Series BAFTA. Tom Conti was nominated for a Best Actor BAFTA and won an RTS award for Best Performance.

When it was first broadcast on the BBC in the mid-70s, the critics immediately applauded the quality of the scriptwriting, and the outstanding performances of the cast. At the time, Britain was enjoying a Labour government trying to cope with financial crises and social discomfort. Apart from the party in power, the climate of fear and frustration back then is not markedly different to that of today.

Bitingly satiric, with sharp digs at education, prejudice, television, Hollywood amongst many other targets, the series reflects the modern age of ambition, anxieties, public success and private failure.

The Glittering Prizes will be released on UK DVD as a 3-disc set by Simply Media at a yet to be confirmed RRP.