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The Brothers Series 5 on DVD

Monday, 29 May 2017 17:10

The Brothers - Series 5 out on DVDThe Brothers as part of the Cult TV landscape? In the 1970s this Sunday night drama about a road haulage company was, ah-hem, something of a ‘juggernaut’ in the ratings. After four seasons, the show needed a lift, so colourful characters were brought in or given greater prominence via Cult TV stalwarts Colin Baker (the sixth Doctor Who), Kate O'Mara (who would later cross paths again with Colin in his Time Lord regeneration as the Rani) and Mike Pratt (Randall in the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)). They complicated the world of the Hammond family, so they are now nowhere near as cosy as they had been. They face an uncertain future with power struggles for the control of the family business, ill health, new additions to the family, and having to face the consequences of their own personal vices and demons.

The Brothers: The Complete Series 5, contains all 13 episodes from Spring 1975 of this reignited format, created by N J Crisp (Dixon of Dock Green) and Gerard Glaister (Dr Finlay’s Casebook). Doctor Who aficionados will be able to see why Colin Baker gained nationwide fame and notoriety, and if this is this is the nature of your interest, this is an ideal jumping-in point. Although his Paul Merroney character was much-talked about in Series 4, he was actually only seen in a handful of episodes (“Partings” - Episode 4.5, “Hit and Miss” – 4.7, “Public Concern” – 4.8, “A Bad Mistake” – 4.12, “The Fall Guy” – 4.13). Series 5 is where he becomes an unmissable core of the proceedings.

The show started its first series with the Hammond family left to manage ‘Hammond Transport Services’ themselves, when they inherit it from the family patriarch Robert Hammond. To twist up the tension, he died while ‘otherwise engaged’ with his secretary, Jennifer Kingsley (Jennifer Wilson – who had previously made a name for herself as Anne Appleby in Compact during its 1965 run of episodes). Tensions are cranked up when Jennifer is added to the Board of Directors via Robert’s will, along with the three brothers.

Edward (Patrick O'Connell, previously Det Insp Gamble in Fraud Squad, and would go on to play Jack Blair in We’ll Meet Again in 1982) is the no-nonsense natural leader of the trio, who – rightly – feels he is the most qualified to run the whole business, and to do so alone. Actor O’Connell took this role on from the second series onwards – the role having been played gruffly in the ten-episode first series by Glyn Owen (who went on to play Jack Rolfe in Howard’s Way).

Brian (Richard Easton – Captain Stapley in Doctor Who “Time Flight”) is a dull accountancy wizard, who had a controlling and unfaithful wife that he is glad to see the back of, but at the expense of his sanity. Meanwhile, David is a disinterested “second class honours, first class layabout” arts graduate who fancies himself as a playboy, and is played by Robin Chadwick – who had been spotted in the “Waugh On Crime” segments of Thirty Minute Theatre playing PC White. Incidentally, his first episode of that series, “Something to Hide: The First Floor” also starred his co-star on The Brothers, Jennifer Wilson. The character of David is now freed of the obligations that came with wife Jill (Gabrielle Drake of UFO and Crossroads fame) from Series 5 onwards.

Atop the pyramid of control is Mary, the domineering mother and is played by Jean Anderson – who went on to play Joss in Tenko. She was one of only of three stars that appeared in all 92 episodes of The Brothers, the others being Robin Chadwick and Jennifer Wilson.

Trying to act as the bridge between management and workers via is place on the board is former driver Bill Riley (Derek Benfield – Mr Scrimshaw in First of the Summer Wine, Robert in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates), a straight talking salt-of-the-Earth type, whose wife Gwen (Margaret Ashcroft – Margaret Castleton in The Main Chance) also helps with reality checks for the family. 

With Colin Baker’s Paul Merroney now wielding the power as the head of the company, it is up to the others to try and derail his schemes, either because of caution, or seeing obstacles that Merroney underestimates, or in some cases just to be bloody-minded. It’s often difficult to come to terms with the fact Colin only appeared in half of the total episodes made – 46 of the 92. The character is up there with JR Ewing of Dallas fame in terms of being someone the audience loves to hate, and simply cannot get enough of.

Carole Mowlam (Fiona in Freewheelers) features as Merroney’s secretary Clare Miller, good with figures, and who gets a little bit more entangled with the Hammond family than perhaps she had hoped.

Kate O'Mara brings to life the character of Jane Maxwell, a cynical, tough and downright sexy boss of an air freight business, an operation which is critical to Merroney’s expansion plans for the business. She and Merroney create a memorable and entertaining rivalry which lasted until the end of the seventh, and final, series.

Mike Pratt becomes a third side of an interesting relationship triangle with Merroney and Maxwell, as pilot Don Stacey. He and Maxwell used to be married, but still get on well, him flying for her business. His happy-go-lucky, solve everything with a drink persona is so likeable that he steals virtually every scene he is in. Actor Mike even gets to strum his guitar now and again, something he also did in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). It’s sad to note that Don would be Mike’s last ever role before he died in July 1976.

Look out too for Michael Elwyn, Edward in the 2006-7 series of Robin Hood, as Dr Ivan.

Guest stars to look out for in Series 5 include Ronald Leigh-Hunt (Col Buchan in Freewheelers) in “Tiger by the Tail” and “Breakdown”, Mike Kinsey (Nosher in It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum) in “Special Licence”, Cyril Shaps (voice of Popkiss and Masterspy in Supercar) and Elizabeth Chambers (Domenica Van Meyer in Tenko) in “Jennifer’s Baby”, and the iconic Jack Watson as a union negotiator in “End of a Dream” and “The Judas Sheep” and “Jennifer’s Baby”.

Directors for this series are Lennie Mayne (The Troubleshooters, Doomwatch, Doctor Who “The Curse of Peladon”, “The Three Doctors”, “The Monster of Peladon” and “The Hand of Fear”) and Vere Lorrimer (Compact, Dixon of Dock Green, and 12 episode of Blake’s 7), who take it in turns across the run.

All in all this is a delicious series in terms of conflict between two different eras of business management – reflecting somewhat the degree of change in industrial relations in the 1970s, but in a way which is thoroughly engaging. The theme is that if you stay still you risk everything, but equally you also have to risk everything by seeking constant change and expansion. Those problems still resonate with the business landscape of the 21st Century, and as such the themes have become timeless.

It’s worth the purchase cost alone to watch Baker, O’Mara and Pratt collectively chew up the carpet between them. Three giants of Cult TV showing why they are so treasured, in performances which really need to be given your attention and celebrated.

The Brothers – Series 5 is out now from Simply Media. The four DVD set has a running time of 650 mins approx, a ‘PG’ certificate, and a RRP for £29.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com BY CLICKING HERE

Series 1-4 of The Brothers have already been released on DVD by Simply Media, with Series 6 coming along on 12 June 2017, and rounding off with Series 7 on 10 July 2017. YOU CAN BROWSE THE ENTIRE RANGE BY CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2017 17:21