All posts by Philip Bates

The Brittas Empire hits DVD

The Brittas Empire Returns To DVD

Eureka! Entertainment are to re-release the much loved BBC TV sitcom from the nineties, The Brittas Empire (The Complete Brittas Empire – Series One to Seven), unavailable in the UK since 2010!

In this classic TV sitcom, Gordon Brittas (Chris Barrie) is the manager of Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre. He means well, wants to do well and desperately wants to be a good manager. Unfortunately his best talent is to continually create recipes for total disaster. Deep down Brittas cares for his staff, but all he ever seems to do is to make their lives more difficult. Trying to rise above this, and to keep the Centre running smoothly, is his assistant Laura (Julia St. John) and of course Colin, complete with boil!

Own the complete run of The Brittas Empire on DVD!

Behind every good man, so the saying goes, is a good woman, and behind every maniac, is a good woman losing her sanity! Helen Brittas (Pippa Haywood) is no different as she struggles to cope with her husband’s misplaced enthusiasm.

Chris Barrie’s character ‘Gordon Brittas’ is featured in this year’s video for the Sports Relief charity single by LITTLE MIX ‘Word Up’

The DVD collection includes the following:

  • Brittas Fitness Quiz,
  • Royal Variety Performance 1996,
  • Brittas Management Quiz, Star Profile,
  • Good Morning Interview,
  • Christmas Special 1994,
  • Christmas Special 24th December 1996,
  • Brittas Empire Series 4 Out-takes,
  • Where’s Ben Game,
  • Wogan Interview,
  • Stills Gallery

The Complete Brittas Empire – Series One to Seven will be re-released in the UK in a 7-disc DVD exclusively to HMV from Saturday 22 March 2014 and everywhere else from 14 April 2014. Get your Amazon order placed today!

CSO 1 - feat

CSO Fanzine: Doomwatch, Blake’s 7, Lost in Space & More!

A new fanzine, CSO, launches this month, covering the cult classics, including Star Trek, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Sherlock Holmes and even Twin Peaks and Are You Being Served?


The 56-page fanzine, named after the 1970s special effects technology – Colour Separation Overlay – responsible for some of the dodgiest imaginings in all of sci-fi, includes recollections, essays, and reviews of many popular cult shows.

“We love Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Sapphire and Steel, The Prisoner, Hammer House of Horror, Space 1999, Star Fleet etc. and we’d like to cover Comedy shows too like The Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi.”

– Scott Burditt, editor.

The magazine also features a look at the science fiction series created by Kit Pedlar and Gerry Davis, Doomwatch, which ran for three seasons between 1970 and 1972 (though much of the final series is now missing). The show was about a team looking into unusual scientific notions, and stopping radical ideas from damaging the nation – or as the team put it:

“We were set up to investigate any scientific research, Public or Private, which could possibly be harmful to Man.”

Doomwatch was incredibly popular, educating a peak of 13 million viewers about the latest notions like subliminal messages, pollution and toxic hazards. The rights were bought by Channel 5, and a 100-minute film was produced in December 1999, but a futher full series was never made.

CSO is available now, priced £4.99 in the UK, and £8.99 worldwide, both including postage.

Programme Name: Sherlock - TX: n/a - Episode: The Reichenbach Fall (No. 3) - Embargoed for publication until: 10/01/2012 - Picture Shows: (L-R) Sherlock Holmes (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH), Molly (LOUISE BREALEY) - (C) Hartswood Films - Photographer: Colin Hutton

Review: The Reichenbach Fall

Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brearley in Sherlock: The Reichenback FallThe Reichenbach Fallis bold, fun, sinister and mind-boggling.

The latter comes, of course, from that ending; a dramatic final sequence that sent the media alight. You know how successful a show is when even The Daily Mail devotes an entire page to the question of how Sherlock survived.

Everybody knows what happened at Reichenbach in The Final Problem, and writer, Steve Thompson quickly got this out of the way in a scene which harked back to the very first episode of Sherlock.

Watson is, essentially, back where he started. Lost without his best friend, he has little purpose any more. He’s suffering, and thanks to Martin Freeman’s unerringly brilliant portrayal, we are too, even though we know what’s coming.

But the episode doesn’t belong to Freeman, nor his co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, both of whom have been magnificent in every single episode of the two series. Surely Andrew Scott as the wicked Jim Moriarty then? Or Una Stubbs’ Mrs. Hudson? Lestrade? Molly?

No, this episode belongs to them all. Their performances were spectacular. The Reichenbach Fall is a tale of relationships, identity and – above all – humanity.

Series Two has seen Sherlock’s growing humanity under the microscope, aided by his friends. The episode shows that the Consulting Detective was wrong when he said he only has one friend. Watson is certainly his one constant, but Reichenbach reinforces the warm atmosphere at 221B Baker Street – then tears it away.

Moriarty’s scheme takes its toll on the Reichenbach hero – and wasn’t that worked in so cleverly? – leading to one place: the roof of St. Bartholemew’s.

Andrew Scott is incredible in every scene, and provides a constant sinister undercurrent, aided by allusions to death and three simple letters: I O U. The standoffs he has with the lead are beautifully realised; Scott manages to be creepy and imposing even when he’s just talking. Now that’s the sign of a true villain.

The death of Moriarty is genius, also riffing off the original Conan Doyle tale, but infuriating, too. I was immediately awestruck by the desperation of the situation and just how far he would go to defeat his enemy. However, this also means we won’t be getting anymore from Andrew Scott… unless, of course, it’s a trick.

Visually, the episode is stunning – all credit to Toby Haynes, who continued the eerie, complex but lavish style of the previous five episodes. The scene where Sherlock matches photos to a map of England (in his head, naturally) is wonderfully reminiscent of the ‘Mind Palace.’

Benedict Cumberbatch and Katherine Parkinson in Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall

And perhaps this is why The Reichenbach Fall is so successful. It feeds off all the episodes before it. I’m not saying this to discredit Steve Thompson – in fact, quite the opposite.

The final episode’s premise is set up in A Study in Pink, with everybody but his best friends considering that Sherlock is a fraud. Added to this, Donovan and Anderson are back to agitate the Reichenbach Hero and Lestrade, clearly showing how much the Detective Inspector really thinks of Holmes.

The graffiti that lurks in the background is a neat reminder of The Blind Banker, especially when Sherlock watches the lights in the opposite building flicker to reveal those ominous letters. Alongside the return of Moriarty, obviously, The Reichenbach Fall also welcomes back the Baker Street Irregulars – albeit fleetingly – last seen in The Great Game. Once more, Mycroft is there to revel in underhand dealings, while Moriarty gets at Sherlock by threatening his friends, reflecting the danger Mrs. Hudson was in at the beginning of this series. Another allusion to A Scandal in Belgravia comes in the form of the ‘final problem,’ because, to paraphrase the Consulting Criminal, he did tell us what his main trouble is – but were we listening?

The shadowy scares of The Hounds of Baskerville were continued here, laced with a macabre fairytale twist, as was the possibility that Sherlock is starting to doubt himself.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg – and these reminders of past glories make the ‘fall’ even more affecting.

How did he survive? The internet is alive with theories. Was the dummy seen hanging in 221B a hint? What about that squash ball? And was Molly involved? Well, that’s the final problem.

Molly (Louise Brealey) really showed herself to be amazing this series; smarter and more observant than Sherlock has ever given her credit for. She’s loyal and caring but can also read people, just like Mr. Holmes. She does count, after all. It’s also interesting to look at the scene where Sherlock says he needs her in a new light. Forgetting about her possibly helping with his ‘death,’ what else could this mean…?

I won’t hazard a guess at how Sherlock survived, because it seems futile. But I have every faith in the crew that it’s going to be mind-blowing – because that’s what Sherlock does best.

Sherlock Series Two photo holmes watson

The Daily Mail Gives Away Sherlock!

The Daily Mail is giving away copies of Sherlock: Series One on DVD.

Starting today, the newspaper is printing tokens until Friday 3rd February; collect six and send them off with a cheque for £1.72 for postage and packaging – and Sherlock will be yours!

… Although it also warns that postage may take 56 working days.

The DVD comprises the first three episodes, written by Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson: A Study in Pink, based on the first Sherlock Holmes novel; The Blind Banker, loosely based on the short story, The Dancing Men; and The Great Game, in which Sherlock and Watson first meet the criminal mastermind, Moriarty.

Alternatively, you can just send a cheque for £20, with no tokens (plus £2 p&p, naturally) and receive Sherlock series one and two.

You can get the coupon to accompany the tokens and/or cheque in today’s Daily Mail.

But this feels like a bit of an empty offer.

You can buy Sherlock Series One from Amazon for £4.99. Series Two is just £12.99, while the boxset of both series is just £17.99.

But at least this means that Sherlock is getting the recognition it more than deserves from that newspaper…