Timeslip - Limited Edition DVD

Thursday, 30 June 2016 23:00 Written by 

Timeslip - Limited Edition DVD Set out nowSome shows stay with you a lifetime, and I recall Timeslip with huge relish from its first broadcast. It was a benchmark of 1970s ‘telefantasy’, and despite previous VHS and DVD releases of the series, while this set contains all episodes in their original, as-transmitted, full screen aspect ratios, what makes this new release from Network is the plentiful supply of  special features which will encourage previous owners to dig deep once more.

Devised by Ruth Boswell – who would go on to produce both The Tomorrow People and Shadows, with most of three of the four stories written by Bruce Stewart – Timeslip blends rational science with fantasy, in a format of two teenagers who discover the existence of a ‘time barrier’ - enabling them to travel to different periods and locations, and in terms of the broadcast episodes that ranges from World War Two to alternative chilling visions of the future.

As the plot unfolds, three children have vanished from the tiny Midlands village of St Oswald. First to disappear is local girl Sarah, then Simon Randall (Spencer Banks) and Liz Skinner (Cheryl Burfield), who are on holiday with Liz’s parents. Only Commander Traynor (Denis Quilley), an apparent stranger to the area, can offer some idea of where they are – and that idea is so incredible and horrifying that the parents, Frank and Jean Skinner (Derek Benfield and Mary Preston) cannot believe it.

Also of note in terms of guest stars were David ‘Parker’ Graham, who played 2957, an older version of Simon; Mary Preston as Beth, an older version of Liz; Ian Fairbairn as Alpha 4, one of many clones; and John Barron as Devereaux, an authority figure played in the way only John ‘CJ’ Barron could. Twins Teresa and Lisa Scoble played Alpha 16 and Alpha 17.

26 episodes were made, split into four stories - “The Wrong End of Time” (six episodes), “The Time of the Ice Box” (six episodes), “The Year of the Burn Up” (eight episodes) and “The Day of the Clone” (six episodes).

Cheryl Burfield as Liz - pin-up to a TV generation

Not networked by ITV, the series went out on Mondays or Fridays from around 5.15-5.20pm, depending on where you lived, running from September 1970 to March 1971.

In the early 1970s colour television was still finding its feet in the UK, and the unions considered the greater knowledge necessary to handle the colour technology should necessitate a pay rise. Naturally the powers that be disagreed, and industrial action was the result. The timing of such was not good for Timeslip, so despite it being predominantly a colour series, some episodes were made in monochrome. There was a quartet which had this treatment, being parts 1 to 4 of “The Day of the Clone”.  

This had a knock-on effect on overseas sales – it could only really be sold to territories which were still operating in black and white. In effect, despite its huge popularity, witnessed by the comic strip sequel running in magazine Look-In for two years, and a complete repeat run, no further episodes were commissioned.

Others were only broadcast in black and white due to a different facet of the union dispute – “The Time of the Ice Box” parts 2 to 6, “The Year of the Burn Up” parts 1 to 7, but to confirm, these were all recorded in colour. Regrettably, there was damage to the original colour recordings when in the archives, meaning only episode could be salvaged in colour – “Time of the Ice Box” episode 6.

Post Timeslip, Spencer Banks did get another lead role, when he starred in Tightrope, previously released by Network, which was an adventure series made by ATV in 1972. An unrelated format spy format for teens, it was created and written by Victor Pemberton, who wrote the final Timeslip story, and also used most of the same production team as the previous series.

John Barron and Spencer Banks in Timeslip

One of the aspects of the show which stuck in the mind was the theme music, a piece of library music entitled “Rite de la Terre” composed by Edouard Michael.

In terms of the extras in this Limited Edition, most are harvested from a short-run DVD release available through the Timeslip website – “Behind the Barrier”, which was the title of the feature-length documentary included as its centrepiece. Directed by Jeff Smart, this included interviews with Spencer Banks, Cheryl Burfield, Iris Russell, Ian Fairbairn, David Graham, Ruth Boswell and many others.

Also from this release are “Beyond the Barrier” (a sequel mini-episode), “Back to the Barrier 2003” – which sees the cast return to the series location, the former Burnt Farm Army Camp in Goff's Oak, Hertfordshire, “Day of the Clone 2007” featuring footage from the Convention of the same name, and text features – including an overview of Timeslip comic strip artist Mike Noble

There is also a PDF archive featuring scripts and production paperwork and an Image Gallery.

Joining the DVD set in the Limited Edition slipcase is an exclusive book on the making of the series by archive television historian Andrew Pixley. The same size as a DVD case, its design is a tribute to the novel which adapted the first two stories of the series.

Its 128 pages cover everything you could ever possibly want to know about the series, from conception through to production and beyond. The episode guide also gives all the details about case and crew, and behind the scenes information.

The book also covers the fan appreciation for the series, listing the conventions where Timeslip was represented. Unfortunately, this is where there is one major oversight – no mention is made of Cult TV 1998, the weekend event at the Telford Moat House which featured Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks as VIP guests, being interviewed and taking part in some of the madness which Cult TV became known for.

For those of you wanting to discover more about the series, the website www.timeslip.org.uk is highly recommended.

This limited edition set is only available whilst stocks last. Thereafter, Timeslip – The Complete Series will be available to own on DVD only.

Timeslip – The Complete Series is out now from Network. It has a ‘U’ certificate, a running time of 644 mins approx, and a RRP of £39.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

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