Hot Metal - Series 2 DVD

Sunday, 25 April 2010 16:21

TV icon Robert Hardy is back in his dual role in Andrew Marshall and David Renwick’s razor-sharp satire of the ongoing shenanigans of the day-to-day running of a tabloid newspaper. Co-starring Richard Wilson (Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave) as former TV presenter Dicky Lipton – the latest dupe employed to clean up the Daily Crucible – Hot Metal was a cult success on its initial transmission and remains an outstandingly clever and wickedly funny comedy 22 years on.

Twiggy Rathbone (Hardy), newspaper tycoon and owner of Rathouse International, has relaunched his Crucible newspaper, once a broadsheet ‘paper of integrity’ as a downmarket, sex and sleaze-centric tabloid. To aid him in this crusade he brought in South African newspaper editor Russell Spam (also Hardy), whose job is to deflect the complaints of the ‘old guard’ and re-employ bottom-of-the-barrel sacked reporters such as Greg Kettle, who in the first season used a medium to ‘interview’ victims of capital punishment.

Hot Metal - Series 2 comes to DVDThis second and final season sees a change in many of the personnel surrounding Hardy’s dual role. Not returning was John Gordon Sinclair’s cub reporter Bill Tytla, who is replaced by Caroline Milmoe (Julie in Bread) as Maggie Troon. However, the biggest cast change was the departure of Geoffrey Palmer’s ‘Executive Editor’ Harold Stringer – lost in a plane crash. In comes Richard Wilson, playing a prototype Victor Meldrew in Dicky Lipton – a TV presenter employed to apparently lift standards on The Crucible.

Scene-stealing once more this season is Richard Kane as gutter reporter Greg Kettle. The character’s assumption of what is in the public interest is not only hilarious, but also a mirror to be held up to the faces of virtually every reporter working on tabloids in the UK, both then and now. 

Regrettably, newspapers continue to deal in gossip, as well as recycling PR stories presented to them, and building people up to knock them down. Real news doesn’t get a look-in, and you are likely to be better informed if you do not view or read any mainstream media news. The fact is our press and news channels are actually making their audiences go into negative equity, as they are presented with information that is not only inaccurate, but also points people in entirely the wrong direction, away from the truth.

Season Two of Hot Metal does not have as much polish as its debut series, but is still good enough to rate the show overall as one of the Top Ten sit-coms of all time. Good comedy should make you think while making you laugh, and this series manages that by the bucket-load. The newspaper production technology may be dated, but the themes most certainly are not, meaning it’s virtually timeless and can be enjoyed by audiences of any age (but parents should note the ‘15’ certificate!).

In March 1989 the show was part of that year’s Comic Relief, presenting a 13 minute special “The Rat Sat on The Cat” (also known as “The Satellite Years”), with Hardy and Palmer reprising his role from the first series. Needless to say, you’ll know at the end of the second season why Lipton could not return! Regrettably, this is not included in this collection.

Now, to complete the early TV works of Marshall and Renwick, we need Network DVD to roll out the remarkably silly alleged-children's series End of Part One - it can't be long now until we see it on the shelves...

Hot Metal – The Complete Second Series is out now from Network DVD with a ‘15’ certificate and a running time of 150 minutes approx.  The RRP is £14.99, or get it for less at


HOT METAL – Series 2 Episode Guide


2.01 Religion of the People

Twiggy Rathbone finds a surprisingly willing replacement for the missing Harold Stringer. Meanwhile, Greg Kettle uses the powers of ‘Her Majesty’s Press’ to get hold of a Government list of what he suspects to be all known AIDS carriers, and editor Russell Spam signs up God as an advice columnist through Sergeant Major Ken Lutterworth (David Lodge).

Original ITV Transmission: 6 March 1988


2.02 The Joker to the Thief

Spam sets up Lipton for a serious assault, when he imprisons an overweight woman and wires her jaw shut. Meanwhile Kettle is inventing a sex scandal at an innocent pre-school. Maggie Troon follows up a lead about a mass murder involving the family of a High Court judge, in what will be this season’s story arc.

Original ITV Transmission: 13 March 1988


2.03 The Hydra’s Head

Lipton tries to vet every story going to press, as Spam begins publishing The Crucible 24 hours a day. Kettle competes with the Daily Star to save a Nicarauguan horse from a glue factory, and Maggie uncovers another murder, as she continues to investigate the judge and his family.

Original ITV Transmission: 20 March 1988


2.04 The Twilight Zone

Lipton’s relocation of reporter Greg Kettle to El Salvador results in a story to touch the heart of millions. Meanwhile, a dead celebrity’s most personal effects are put up for grabs in a prize competition in The Crucible.

Original ITV Transmission: 27 March 1988


2.05 Crown of Thorns

Lipton begins to lose his marbles as the militant beauties of The Crucible’s version of ‘Page 3’ go on strike. Twiggy opens tacky amusement park ‘Rat World’, while Greg Kettle infiltrates an Eastenders script conference. Maggie interviews a wide-eyed neighbour, who has evidence of an alien presence at the location of the mass murder.

Original ITV Transmission: 10 April 1988


2.06 Unleash the Kraken

Maggie continues to dig into the High Court judge murders amid rumours of UFOs and a sighting of Bigfoot. Spam and Lipton try different ways of influencing a critical government report on newspaper standards and practices, and wonder whether they should expose the dark secret of the Lord heading up the enquiry.

Original ITV Transmission: 17 April 1988


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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