The Flower of Gloster on DVD

Monday, 23 January 2017 00:00 Written by 

The Flower of Gloster comes to DVDThe mission: Guide a 72-foot narrow-boat through 220 miles of canals from Wales to London in 10 days. The crew: Three cheeky kids from the Doherty family, after daddy Doherty is injured. What (else) could possibly go wrong?! This cheerful 13-part tale from 1967 has the distinction of being the first Granada Television series to be made in colour, even though it was initially broadcast in black and white.

The Doherty family are up against a rival boat manned by the Evans clan. The stakes are high as the first party to deliver their boat get the deal, and the Evans are not playing fair. Sabotage is not the only problem facing Dick, Liz and Mike Doherty, however, as they must also contend with mechanical faults, a haunted wood, Mike’s uncanny disappearing act and a girl they crash into along the way. Think ‘Swallows and Amazons’ only on a canal.

Once you get over the slightly scratchy video, muffled sound and occasionally suspect editing, and settle into the fairly free-form production style, The Flower of Gloster is a real charmer. The series is a really docu-drama, as part of its remit is evidently to educate the audience, via the cast, about canal travel, past and present. It is loosely based on a book by E Temple Thurston.

As they progress through their journey, the Dohertys happen to bump into all sorts of experts who typically dispense some easily digestible information, be it on boat lifts, funeral barges or badgers.

The cast make the whole enterprise hugely enjoyable, and I suspect the series was semi-ad-libbed as much of the dialog and interaction feels like it is spontaneous. Elder brother Dick (Richard O’Callaghan – “Watership Down”, Red Dwarf) just about keeps the gang together and the boat in one piece. He is wonderfully natural and disarming.

Liz and Mike Doherty are played by real-life siblings with the same names, which explains why they appear to get on so well together. Along the way, the gang pick up Ann (Annette Robertson – “The Young Ones”, “A Kind of Loving”), who fits right in and appears to take a shine to Dick. They also befriend a straggly stray dog who they name Baskerville, much to their amusement.

One or two of the episodes do appear to run out of plot and dry up a little, but for the most part the serial is a genuine pleasure from start to finish, a throwback to another time, an idyllic age of innocence when kids could be trusted to go off on adventures, talk to strangers without a care in the world, and take risks without being smothered in heaps of cotton wool. The series is relaxing, fun, educational and features some lovely countryside to boot.

The only bonus content is a picture gallery with around half a dozen photos. Mind you, they do magnificently capture Mike’s cheekiness!

The Flower of Gloster (1967) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Network. The two-disc set has a running time of 315 minutes approx, carries a ‘U’ certificate and retails for £19.99, or less from BY CLICKING HERE.




Last modified on Monday, 23 January 2017 04:48

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