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directed by Richard Fegen, Andrew Norriss (creators)
UK 1991

 

A rare "Britcom" that didn't make it stateside via PBS - despite audience familiarity with its lead via the series RED DWARF - THE BRITTAS EMPIRE follows Gordon Brittas (Chris Barrie, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER), the manager of the new Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre, who manages to alienate (if not downright infuriate) his staff, laborers, customers, and even his family - including "basket case" wife Helen (Pippa Haywood, TV's MR. SELFRIDGE), who is transformed into more of a basket case with her own quirks as the series goes on - with well-intended advice and a general obliviousness to its reception (usually because he does not understand the cause of the physical attacks - including assassination attempts - against him or others wind up being the unintended targets). On the receiving end of his devastating ... and also interceding between Brittas and the public are his long-suffering staff including his manager level-headed Laura (Julia St. John) and bumbling Colin (Michael Burns), neurotic receptionists Carole (Harriet Thorpe, CALENDER GIRLS) - who keeps her baby in her desk drawer - and Julie (Judy Flynn), lovestruck trainer Linda (Jill Greenacre), as well as Tim (Russell Porter) and Gavin (Tim Marriott) whose relationship is obvious to everyone but Brittas (with Gavin being the first one Brittas usually suspects whenever he suspects some "hanky panky" going on with female staff or members in the centre).

Whereas Barrie's RED DWARF character let whatever small amount of authority he was given go to his head out of a sense of inferiority, Gordon Brittas is well-meaning and without malice; yet he wreaks an incredible amount of havoc (usually psychologically inadvertently leading others to the physical mishaps). His own patience is thoroughly tested, and yet he demonstrates a greater degree of patience than some of the characters who have to put up with him. Over the course of fifty episodes, there is quite a bit of variations on the same basic scenarios - Brittas trying to whip things into shape before an important visitor, Brittas driving the most pacifistic of customers/guest speakers to violent rage, Brittas trying to curb on-site hanky panky or suspected thievery, Brittas being totally oblivious to serious attempts on his life, Helen becoming increasingly unhinged, Carole's multiple pregnancies (and babies getting lost in the centre), large animals or poison insects wandering around loose in the building, electrical mishaps and explosive catastrophes from which Brittas usually emerges without a scratch - but the results are still hilarious and rewarding.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 3 January 1991 - 24 February 1997 (UK TV)

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DVD Review: Eureka Video (The Complete Series) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 24h 7m
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ~5.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English SDH (series 3, 6, and 7), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Seven series (50 episodes) on seven DVDs
• DISC ONE: Brittas Fitness Quiz, Royal Variety Sketch, Star Profile, Stills Gallery
• DISC TWO: Brittas Management Quiz, 'Good Morning' Interview, Star Profile, Stills Gallery
• DISC THREE: 'Where's Ben' Game, 'Wogan' Interview, Stills Gallery
• DISC FOUR: Stlls Gallery
• DISC FIVE: 1994 Christmas Special, Stills Gallery
• DISC SIX: Series 4 Outtakes, Stills Gallery
• DISC SEVEN: 1996 Christmas Special

DVD Release Date: 14 April 2014
Amaray

Chapters 250

 

Comments

Eureka's set is a more affordable and slimmer packaging of their 2007 complete series set, both of which present each of the seven series on its own dual-layer disc (the individual series releases split the episodes and extras between two single-layer discs). The picture quality is none-too-impressive, but that is the fault of the early nineties video recording more so than the adequate compression. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks fare better (optional English SDH subtitles are only included on the third, sixth, and seventh series making the complete set a lost opportunity to rectify this).

All of the extras spread over the seven discs appear to replicate those of the individual series releases going by online specs; and they include two Christmas specials (1994 and 1996), TV interviews with lead Barrie, stills galleries, and interactive quizzes and games (which seem very primitive today).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

 




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