New Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Tuesday, 21 September 2010 08:28

ITV1’s modern version of Andrea Newman's 1976 taboo-busting psychological drama was reworked by writer Guy Andrews, who brought us “Lost in Austen” - he also acted as Executive Producer on that mini-series. The new three part reformatting is a considerable departure from its predecessor from nearly 25 years ago, with new plot twists and a streamlining of the plot.

Trevor Eve takes over from Frank Finlay as Peter Manson, who is in the midst of one hell of a mid-life crisis.  His daughter has orchestrated her pregnancy, the soon-to-be son-in-law can be described as ‘unhinged’ at best, and his wife finds herself with divided loyalties.  Now you can get hold of this new production on DVD, and compare its Hollywood leanings to the original – and you even had a chance of winning a copy by voting in this year’s Cult TV Awards.

New Bouquet of Barbed Wire on DVDTrevor Eve’s Peter is turned from a publisher into an architect – not quite sure if that makes for a more sexy profession, but it’s a perplexing amendment. Hermione Morris as his wife Cassie is no longer a home-maker, but is seen as having her own career.

Imogen Poots as Peter’s daughter Prue plays on her father's obsessive love for her, but in a far more subtle way than the original.  That said, this new Prue is far more a victim than how the character was portrayed by Susan Penhaligon in the original.

When Prue reveals to Peter that she is pregnant by her teacher Gavin Sorenson (Tom Riley), the family unit is threatened when it becomes clear that Peter cannot rid himself of the suspicion that Gavin's interest in Prue is part of a personal vendetta against him. This is a new plot twist not in the original, and Gavin comes over as far more sinister than James Aubrey’s original portrayal.

This is the change in story aspect that is the most disturbing – not the content itself, but the fact that it was deemed necessary. The male characters have become far less sympathetic, whereas the women in the plot become victims far more than the original illustrated. That said, this is a far slicker production, the original being studio bound, but it’s a little depressing that the producers considered it necessary to snip a seven one-hour episode plot to just three parts in this reimagining.

Biggest victim of the plot being compressed is the excellent Jemima Rooper, who plays Sarah Francis – a role captured to perfection in the original by Deborah Grant. With Peter's marriage beginning to unravel and his relationship with his daughter disintegrating, he embarks on an affair with his new architect junior Sarah (in the original she was Peter’s new secretary).  This was a major character in the original, but in this new version the part becomes little more than a cameo.  A shame because, as usual, Jemima dominates all the scenes that she is part of.

As Peter’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic and he stares financial ruin in the face, it is only a matter of time before the truth about his past emerges.

Prue organises a honeymoon for herself and Gavin in Wakefield, Yorkshire. She is intrigued by Gavin’s past in Wakefield, especially because that’s where her father grew up, and where her grandmother still lives. But more than anything Prue wants to track down the mysterious “Paula” whose name Gavin has tattooed on his wrist.

 “Bouquet of Barbed Wire” has a ‘15’ certificate, and the DVD is out now from ITV Studios Home Entertainment. It has a running time of 135 minutes approx, and a RRP of £19.99 – or get it for less at

Thanks to ITV Studios Home Entertainment, we had three copies available to win for voting in this year’s Cult TV Awards.  Catch all the details at

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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