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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Best British TV" on DVD/Blu-ray--Acorn Media's Early 2012 Release Calendar

Acorn Media, chief curators of the best Brit TV” –TIME Magazine

January 3, 2012
The Windsors: From George to Kate (U.S. Debut, Athena) – An absorbing 2011 documentary tracing the recent history of the British monarchy from the real King George VI (portrayed in The King’s Speech) through Prince William’s recent wedding. Providing a window into the captivating lives of the British Royal Family, The Windsors gathers archival film footage and photographs from nearly a century of official events. Full of pomp, pageantry, ritual, tradition, and sheer splendor, these historic films portray the Windsors at their most noble. Narrated by actor Brian Blessed (I, Claudius).

Man in a Suitcase, Set 2 (DVD Debut) – A rogue agent for hire in 1960s Europe. The conclusion to the thrilling 1960s spy series features a candid and unfiltered, 69-minute bonus interview with star Richard Bradford (The Untouchables, Cagney & Lacey). Bradford stars as the savvy and adventurous “Mac” McGill, a cynical yet honest spy who has been disavowed by his American bosses and is on the run from a host of international enemies. Sharply written and featuring a host of superb guest stars (Donald Sutherland, Felicity Kendal, Philip Madoc, and Edward Fox), the intriguing drama had national broadcast exposure on ABC in 1968.

Dr. Willoughby (DVD Debut) – A hilarious behind-the-scenes television satire in the vein of The Larry Sanders Show and Soap, Dr. Willoughby stars fan favorite Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) as Donna Sinclair, an actress desperately clinging to her fading career. On the sleazy daytime soap in which she stars, Sinclair plays the competent and compassionate Dr. Willoughby. Off-screen, Sinclair is a holy terror—conniving, vain, and utterly insincere. The series is from the production team behind the long-running hit Brit-com Birds of a Feather, and it broadcast in 1999 on ITV and was syndicated on public television.

January 17, 2012
Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace (DVD Debut) – “Spectacular” (Los Angeles Times). An inspiring, Emmy-winning PBS documentary traces the history of the beloved hymn. Legendary journalist Bill Moyers explores the song’s origins and enduring power through 24 captivating performances including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Jessye Norman, Marion Williams, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and more. Produced in 1990, the documentary features Jeremy Irons as the voice of John Newton. The DVD also includes Pure Pete Seeger, a 60-minute bonus musical portrait of the folk singer, songwriter, storyteller, and activist, filmed for Bill Moyer’s Journal at Seeger’s home in New York’s Hudson Valley.

George Gently, Series 1 (Blu-ray debut) – “Great, bordering on brilliant” ( The first series of acclaimed British mystery is now on Blu-ray. Likened to Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders, Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed, The Professionals) stars as the principled detective George Gently in these three feature-length mysteries based on the long-running series of novels by Alan Hunter. Shot in stunning high-definition, these powerful dramas boast clever writing, stylish direction, and strong casts and unfold against the beautiful backdrop of rural Britain during the tumultuous 1960s. George Gently premiered in the U.K. on BBC1 in April 2007 and has run for three series, with a fourth series in production.

January 31, 2012
Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 1 and 2 (Blu-ray debuts, DVD) – The first and second series of Agatha Christie’s beloved Belgian detective debut on Blu-ray. The Blu-rays and new DVDs are newly remastered and restored to their original U.K. broadcast order. Fan-favorite and BAFTA nominee David Suchet stars as the brilliant Belgian detective. Based on the novels by Agatha Christie, these lavish adaptations capture every splendid detail of the Art Deco era. Poirot has aired on ITV1 in the U.K. since 1989 and on PBS and A&E in the U.S.

Poldark: The Complete Collection (Value-priced collection) – “The BBC production seduces us completely” (The New York Times). A must-see for costume drama fans, Poldark is now available in a value-priced complete collection. The Emmy® and BAFTA-nominated miniseries, based on the beloved novels by Winston Graham, tells the story of a dashing 18th century English army officer (Robin Ellis, The Good Soldier), who finds the trials and travails at home every bit as perilous as what he faced in war. Hailed as a British Gone with the Wind, the classic miniseries debuted on PBS in May 1977, was featured on “The Best of Masterpiece Theatre” special, and voted one of the 10 most popular shows in the series’ history in a 2007 PBS poll.

February 7, 2012
Northern Lights: The Complete Collection (Home Video Debut) – Robson Green (Being Human, Wire in the Blood, Touching Evil, Reckless) and Mark Benton (Career Girls, Waterloo Road, Murphy’s Law) star in the lighthearted buddy Britcom. Broadcast on BBC America and produced from 2004-2008, the ITV series follows lifelong friends and rivals Colin Armstrong (Green) and Howard Scott (Benton) on a hilarious series of misadventures in these four complete programs. From a stint in witness protection to an international Santa competition, there’s never a dull moment. Features all 12 episodes and two movies plus a 46 min. behind-the-scenes bonus feature.

New Tricks, Season 6 (DVD Debut) – Retired cops solve cold cases in this smash hit, ongoing BBC series seen on public television. Combining compelling stories, likeable characters, and a top-notch cast, this long-running series stars Amanda Redman (Sexy Beast), Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, Circles of Deceit), Alun Armstrong (Garrow’s Law, Bleak House, Patriot Games), and James Bolam (The Beiderbecke Affair) as a team of semi-retired and somewhat curmudgeonly detectives investigating cold cases. New Tricks has run on the BBC for eight seasons and has already been renewed for a ninth and tenth season.

The Brontes of Haworth – This literary family biopic stars Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War, My Week with Marilyn) in one of his early roles. Written by poet and playwright Christopher Fry (The Lady’s Not for Burning), this finely crafted portrait explores the soaring artistic achievements and personal tragedies of England’s most accomplished literary family (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights). Featuring a stellar ensemble cast (Alfred Burke, Barbara Leigh-Hunt) and an outstanding script, this acclaimed period drama is a sensitive exploration of the Brontës’ tender and tragic family history. The miniseries aired in the U.K. in 1973 but has not aired on U.S. television.

February 14, 2012
Battlefield Detectives (Athena) – Seen on the History Channel, the series features new scientific insight into historic battles. What explains the massacre at Waterloo? Why was Gallipoli such a disaster? What role did luck play at Hastings? Battlefield Detectives puts these and other famous battles under the microscope by revisiting the sites—some little changed, others transformed completely—where the fighting took place. Using 3-D computer models, maps, artifacts, original footage, and dramatic reenactments, investigators recreate the conditions at the scene. Produced in 2003-04.

Robin of Sherwood, Set 2 (Blu-ray debut) – History meets myth in a critically acclaimed classic. Connoisseurs of the Robin Hood legend call this action-packed British series the standard by which all other adaptations are measured. Rich with authentic historical detail and cunning plot twists, Robin of Sherwood adds a bit of sorcery and mysticism to the swordplay and social justice that have made the heroic outlaw so endearing and enduring. Starring Jason Connery (Sean’s son) and Ray Winstone (Indiana Jones 4, The Departed, Sexy Beast), this set includes the final 13 episodes of the series in stunning high definition, plus more than 9 hours of bonus features. 

Shades – Seen on public television, this poignant drama stars Dervla Kirwan (Ballykissangel) and Stephen Tompkinson (Wild at Heart). They meet in London under unusual circumstances…both are recently deceased. Maeve was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and Mark died during a routine surgery while his wife was giving birth to their son. The two mismatched souls find themselves still in this world, thrown together in a weird and wonderful afterlife. This touching and gently humorous British drama explores what it means to have a chance to help—or hinder—those left behind. Produced in 2000.

February 28, 2012
Midsomer Murders, Set 19 (U.S. debut, DVD, Blu-ray debut of series) – Acorn’s best-selling series debuts on Blu-ray. John Nettles stars as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé. Guest stars include James Wilby, Kenneth Cranham, and Neil Dudgeon in his first appearance as DCI John Barnaby. These episodes were produced in 2009 and have not aired in the U.S. The Mysteries: The Made-to-Measure Murders, The Sword of Guillaume, Blood on the Saddle, and The Silent Land.

French Fields Complete Collection – The sequel to Fresh Fields. Frustrated with his daily commute and clients who don’t pay their bills, accountant William Fields (Anton Rodgers, May to December, Lillie) is ready for a change. His wife, Hester (Julia McKenzie, Agatha Christie’s Marple), is always up for something new, so when William gets headhunted for a job in France, both are willing to give it a try. The complete collection includes all three series (1990-93) of this warm and witty Britcom.

The Brief Complete Collection – From the creators of Inspector Morse, Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek) stars in the seriocomic misadventures of clever criminal law barrister Henry Farmer, whose every day is a juggling act between surviving his messy personal life and pleading cases only he can win. Working with tough colleague Cleo Steyn (Cherie Lunghi, Excalibur) and alongside a cast of colorful characters (including Christopher Fulford, Millions, and Linda Bassett, Calendar Girls), Henry will need all his wit and charm to secure justice for his clients and a reprieve for himself. Produced in 2004-05.

Coming up in March/April 2012
A bonus-packed anniversary edition of I, Claudius starring Derek Jacobi, the U.S. debut of Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion, Single-Handed Set 2, The Commander Set 2, Secret War, Bill Moyers: Capitol Crimes, Agatha Christie’s Poirot Series 3 and 4, Monroe starring James Nesbitt, In Their Own Words, Out, and the debut of the original Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on Blu-ray.

Acorn Media/Athena 2011 Highlights:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People starring Alec Guinness (Star Wars), Upstairs, Downstairs: 40th Anniversary Edition (21-disc bonus-packed collection), Jeremy Irons in Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray debut, DVD), Richard Griffiths in Pie in the Sky, James Nesbitt in Murphy’s Law, Aidan Gillen and Charlie Hunnam in Queer as Folk UK, Martin Clunes in the Doc Martin Collection, On the Road with Charles Kuralt: Americana Collection (Sets 1-3), and Midsomer Murders: Barnaby’s Top 10.

In 2011, Acorn’s documentary line Athena also released several thought-provoking, entertaining documentaries, including The Making of the President: The 1960s, Emmy® award-winning, landmark campaign documentaries making their home video debut; Art of the Western World; HBO’s The Battle for Marjah; Weapons Races (DVD debut); The Genius of Design (DVD Debut); The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide (U.S. Debut); Genius of Britain: The Scientists Who Changed the World (U.S. Debut);and several acclaimed programs from Bill Moyers

Acorn’s and Athena’s DVD sets are available from select retailers, catalog companies, and direct from Acorn Media at (888) 870-8047 or and

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