JACK ROSENTHAL AT THE BBC
Acorn Media UK | Region: 2 | Release Date: April 4, 2011 | Rated: 15
The legendary writer Jack Rosenthal left behind a wonderful legacy of high quality drama when he died in 2004, this truly essential new box set gathers together some of his best material for the BBC that range from three 1970′s productions for the iconic Play For Today to two emotional dramas from the mid nineties.
Having earning his writing chops with ITV in the 1960′s as one of the chief scribes on Coronation Street and creator of the much loved sitcom The Lovers (which featured breakthrough roles for Paula Wilcox and Richard Beckinsale) Rosenthal was a major force by the 1970′s and a natural for the BBC’s Play For Today strand which presented major works by Britain’s best TV playwrights on a weekly basis.
First up is 1975′s The Evacuees which follows two youngsters (played by Gary Karp and Steven Serember) who are evacuated to the country during world war II but determine to escape back to Manchester. Wonderfully nostalgic and also featuring a major role for Rosenthal’s wife Maureen Lipman. Next is the BAFTA award winning Barmitzvah Boy from 1976 about a young boy who ducks out of his own barmitzvah when the pressure all gets a little bit too much. A wonderful script and great performances make this a real gem. There is a great central performance too from the young Jeremy Steyn.
Spend Spend Spend from 1977 completes a trio of 1970′s gold and stars Susan Littler and John Duttine in the true story of working Vivian Nicholson who in the sixties won a fortune on the pools and just as quickly spent it all. Another BAFTA winner Spend is superb stuff, melancholic and funny at the same time.
Discs four and five move us forward 20 years for a pair of heartfelt linked dramas about the pains that a group of middle aged couples go through when their children fly the coop to go to Cambridge University. Eskimo Day, which was made in 1996, has a fabulous cast which includes Alec Guiness in his last ever screen appearance as well as Maureen Lipman and Tom Wilkinson. Such a resonating drama Eskimo Day was hugely popular with both critics and audiences alike and a follow up Cold Enough For Snow picked up the stories of the families one year on.
A brilliant dramatist who excelled at making stories of ordinary people funny. Marvellous and a must have for any British Television fan. The five disc set also includes an interview with and introductions to each of the plays by Maureen Lipman and a biography of Jack by his daughter Amy.