“Excuse me, is it Andrew Pixley?”
“I hope you don’t mind me coming over, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your books –”
“- sorry, viewing notes for the Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974) [i] blu-rays. It’s one of my favourite series.”
Oh, bless you for saying so. Didn’t Jonathan Wood and Paul Vanezis do an astounding job on the programmes? How brilliant to see them fully restored! Glad you enjoyed it.
“And I loved the notes with Adam Adamant Lives! (1966-1967). That’s one of my favourites too.”
Ah – that was a wonderful set from 2|entertain wasn’t it? Kevin Davies did an amazing documentary, and Clayton Hickman’s design was just gorgeous. Oh, by the way, you don’t have to keep putting the dates for the shows in brackets while you’re speaking to me if you don’t want to. I’m only making you do it at the moment to make it sound a bit more academic like other people do on these blogs.
“Oh thanks. That will make things a lot easier.”
Don’t mention it. Yes – aren’t we lucky having had a couple of decades where some comparatively obscure television series have been issued commercially? Things I never thought I’d see released. The Corridor People (1966), She-Wolf of London (1990-1991), The Adventure Game (1980-1986), the Dominick Hide plays (1980-1982), that odd episode of Out of this World (1962)…
“Now you’re doing it.”
Sorry. Comes of posting on CSTonline too much.
“But what I don’t understand is this… Why has nobody ever released my favourite series ever – Danger Patrol?”
Oh yes – I think I’ve seen a couple of those. Didn’t Channel 4 show one in the 1980s? The one about the woman walking into the office where she hasn’t worked in three years because she has amnesia?
“It was a brilliant series. I watched it at the time. Loved it. They’re still great. Have you seen the one where the townsfolk are going to lynch the bloke because they think he’s a child molester?”
Wasn’t that an episode of The Fugitive?
“No, that was Danger Patrol. It’s probably my favourite series ever. But why hasn’t anyone ever released it?”
Well, I don’t know. There’s so many series that have been released anyway – but I guess there’s always more. Do many of them exist?
“Um – I think so. Not sure.”
I think I’ve seen a couple of 16mm copies over the years. Have you checked what there still is?
“How would I do that?”
It’s an online British television archive holdings database. I wrote about it in this blog back in December.
“Ah – didn’t bother reading that one.”
Don’t worry. Not many people did. Okay, so, have you maybe written to or e-mailed one of the DVD publishers like Network or Simply Home Entertainment or BBC Studios or the BFI and asked them about it?
“Yes. But none of them have any plans to release it. But they should. Why aren’t they doing it?”
Well, since it’s their company I guess it’s up to them what they do and don’t release. And, you know, they’re already releasing far more archive television than any of us can keep up with anyway.
“Well they SHOULD release it.”
Maybe they think it’s not profitable enough.
“But it was brilliant. Best series ever. It would sell masses.”
“I’d buy one.”
Okay. And I probably would as well. So, that’s two… but I think a company will need more than that level of commitment before they start booking slots at the pressing plant.
“But it would sell thousands!”
“Yes – it was a brilliant series. That would sell LOADS of copies.”
Okay – so… why not publish it yourself?
“What? Me?! I’m not a DVD publisher.”
Well, yes, but that doesn’t matter. Technology has changed so much now. And if you genuinely think that there is a market of thousands and it would make getting the rights and publishing practical and financially viable, then do the maths, draw up a business plan, demonstrate to the bank that you’re a sound risk, start investigating the rights with the owners, strike a deal and self-publish.
“Oh no – you can’t do that. Only big companies can do that.”
No, really, you can. Look at Craig Robins. He couldn’t understand why a series he loved – the sitcom Joking Apart (1993-1995) – wasn’t available on DVD, so he decided to look into how he could release it himself, and he was prepared to invest his own money in his belief that an audience existed, and he formed his independent DVD label ReplayDVD and issued Joking Apart in 2006.
Yes – really. And then you’ve got The Vital Spark (1965-1974). The existing colour episodes were released by SBL in 2006. They’re rather brilliant – slightly surreal, a bit like a Scottish sea-faring Father Ted (1995-1998). And who else would bother to put out this now comparatively obscure BBC Scotland sitcom? But John Williams at SBL did. If you look on the back of the sleeve, there’s even his address and phone number if you want to phone him up and thank him for doing it.
Yes, way. And one of our favourite releases in recent years has been five episodes of the BBC1 oil drama Mogul (1965). Yes, I know it says The Troubleshooters (1966-1972) on the box, but it’s really its forerunner, Mogul. And that came out from Danann who generally publish lots of books and on the war and aircraft and music and sport… but somebody clearly had a soft spot for this old series and decided to make a go of it.
“Hang on. You’ve started doing the bracketed date thing again.”
I know. It’s a bad habit for the purposes of the blog. I don’t do it real life – honest. But, isn’t it wonderful that there’s all these other little companies who will take a chance on issuing something which is a tad obscure generally, but clearly means a lot to the people involved?
“I don’t think I’d ever realised that.”
Well, maybe you can get Danger Patrol out there.
“Gosh – I might look into that. It is my favourite series ever.”
Yes… you mentioned.
“Well, thank you for taking the time to chat to me. Very kind of you.”
No my pleasure – it’s a conversation that I have with people quite frequently. I’m glad that you enjoy the viewing notes … um, sorry, I didn’t catch your name,
“Oh, yes, sorry. It’s Andrew Pixley.”
Both Andrew Pixleys are retired data developers. For the last 30 years they’ve written about almost anything to do with television if people will pay them – and occasionally when they won’t. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of Danger Patrol? It was brilliant…
[i] If we’re counting Monty Python as well, which I think the speaker is in this case.