Whiplash, Zodiac come to DVD

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:55

Network is continuing to plunder the ITV archives with releases that you either thought you’d never see again, or are just such a faint memory that you probably cannot recall the title, or indeed much about the format and its stars.  However, there’s maybe just a sense memory of a show, with a scene or two embedded just out of recall, that will see such releases trigger a ‘eureka’ moment in many of us.

Such will be the case with a couple of releases coming our way from Network on 7 December 2009 – the Australian ‘western’ Whiplash, starring the iconic star of Mission: Impossible, Pete Graves, and the intriguing Zodiac, starring the pneumatic Anouska Hempel as an astrologist who helps solve what seem like impenetrable crimes...



Whiplash DVDThe gold rush in Australia in August 1951 shocks the world, resulting in hordes of adventurers flocking to the new land of golden dreams. The unfamiliar, violent and harsh landscapes catch the gold seekers by surprise. It takes a certain kind of settler to rise to the challenges of the new country that is despoiled by bushrangers, brutalised by the old convict system and torn apart by class conflict.

Boston-born Christopher Cobb happens to be such a person – on top of his natural courage, strength and resourcefulness, his previous experience gained in the Californian gold rush serves him well here too. His job is to find rights of way through the arid terrain of New South Wales, survey new lines of communication and secure lucrative contracts for his expanding stagecoach business. Though a gentleman who is no stranger to violence in all its forms and manifestations, in a land that has no sympathy for weaklings, Chris becomes whatever he needs to be.

Peter Graves is the screen-dominating star of this joint venture between ATV/ITC and Australia’s Seven Network. With input from an American production crew and writers, Whiplash transposes the familiar format of westerns to the heat and dust of the bush. First broadcast in the UK in 1960, Whiplash features fast-moving scripts and a memorable theme composed by Edwin Astley sung by international star Frank Ifield. This complete series is released for the very first time in any format by Network in the UK, from 7 December 2009, and exclusive to www.networkdvd.net for a RRP of £49.99 for this monochrome five disc set with a running time of 850 minutes approx.


Episode titles are as follows:

01. “Convict Town

02. “Episode in Bathurst

03. “Sarong”

04. “Rider on the Hill”

05. “Love Story in Gold”

06. “Dutchman’s Reef”

07. “The Other Side of Swan”

08. “Barbed Wire”

09. “The Bone That Whispered”

10. “The Secret of the Screaming Hills”

11. “The Actress”

12. “Stage for Two”

13. “The Hunters”

14. “The Wreckers”

15. “Act of Courage”

16. “The Haunted Valley”

17. “Day of the Hunter”

18. “The Twisted Road”

19. “The Solid Gold Brigade”

20. “Divide and Conquer”

21. “The Remittance Man”

22. “Canoomba Incident”

23. “The Rushing Sands”

24. “The Legacy

25. “Stage Freight”

26. “Fire Rock”

27. “The Adelaide Arabs”

28. “Dark Runs the Sea”

29. “Flood Tide”

30. “Storm River

31. “Ribbons and Wheels”

32. “Magic Wire”

33. “Dilemma in Wool”

34. “Portrait in Gunpowder”



Zodiac DVDAstrology is strictly for the birds, surely … Or at least that’s the emphatic view of David Gradley, a work-shy ex-Harrovian who has drifted into the police force. It takes an encounter with a young, beautiful astrologer called Esther Jones to make him question his old beliefs…

Anouska Hempel (UFO) stars as Esther opposite Anton Rodgers (The Prisoner) as the coolly methodical Detective Inspector Gradley. There is a rumour that a pilot was filmed with Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan from Blake’s 7) as Esther, and Peter Jeffrey (James Cameron-Grant in The Plane Makers) as Gradley, but that doesn’t seem to exist in the archive anymore.

A host of well-known guest stars are in support, including John Rhys-Davies, George Baker, Norman Eshley, Jenny Handley, Bill Maynard, Ian Ogilvy, Dinah Sheridan, Peter Vaughan, Susie Blake, Robert Powell, Peter Egan, Peter Jones and Michelle Dotrice.

A Thames production, originally screened in 1974, it was co-created by Roger Marshall, known for his connections to shows such as The Avengers, Public Eye, and The Sweeney, who also served as Script Editor and wrote three of the episodes (the others being written by Philip Broadley, Pat Hoddinott and Peter Yeldham).

The creation duties were shared with producer Jackie Davis. In an interview at the time, Davis compares her star sign (Cancer) with those of her stars – Mr Rodgers being a Capricorn, and Ms Hempel a Sagittarian (a pairing that is not supposed to get on). Davis even reveals that despite the show being pure escapism, they did have Carol Golder, a famous astrologer of the time, as a consultant! Incidentally, prior to Zodiac, Davis had been a producer on Man at the Top and Harriet’s Back in Town.

Zodiac has become a much sought-after series by collectors due, to its novel premise of the ‘groovy’ 1970s culture clash between the ‘Thin Blue Line’ and the ‘Age of Aquarius’ – something back in the public psyche thanks to the forthcoming 2012 prophecies.

This two-disc set will have a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 300 minutes approx, a RRP of £19.99 and will be available to buy exclusively at www.networkdvd.net


Zodiac - Episode Listing


01. “CANCER - Death of a Crab”

A bad time for money-making schemes. In fact, not a day for adopting an adventurous attitude to life. Be cautious of over-indulgence, otherwise the evening could end sadly. If Harry Parker had read his horoscope that Sunday, his whole life might have been changed…

Original ITV Transmission: 25 February 1974


02. “PISCES - The Cool Aquarian”

Not the easiest of days. Problems affecting the home or domestic life could occur. Even known and trusted friends could be unreliable. Take care when travelling. Difficulties could arise in the evening house. If Cathy Selby had read her horoscope that Thursday, she might never have been kidnapped…

Original ITV Transmission: 4 March 1974


03. “GEMINI - The Strength of the Gemini”

An exciting day. Be flexible. Due to the intervention of a highly attractive member of the opposite sex, you may have to change your plans at rather short notice. If Paul Derring had read his horoscope that Thursday, his lucrative, high-flying career might not have come to such an abrupt end.

Original ITV Transmission: 11 March 1974


04. “SCORPIO - Saturn’s Rewards”

Put ambition out of mind. Neither is it the day for trying to bring a business deal to fruition. Avoid all arguments; a good day for catching up on one’s sleep. If Martin Seacombe had read his horoscope that day, a murder might never have been committed, an MP’s reputation might never have been ruined and David Gradley might never have cracked a case single-handedly.

Original ITV Transmission: 18 March 1974


05. “LIBRA - Sting, Sting, Scorpio”

Crack down today on your capacity for self-deception. In personal relationships, don’t allow others to dominate you; don’t seek out arguments either, rather, walk away from them. If Peggy had read her horoscope that morning, the Brighton Hotel robber might never have been caught- and Esther might never have solved the mystery of Madame Lavengro’s death.

Original ITV Transmission: 25 March 1974


06. “TAURUS - The Horns of the Moon”

Although you mustn’t let close relatives dominate you, this is no time for impulsive action. With retrograding Mercury, avoid decision making, be careful of unexpected happenings. If only Tony Weston had read his horoscope, his father might never have caught a chill, a will might have been signed and Tony might not have found himself accused of murder…

Original ITV Transmission: 1 April 1974

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