Special Edition # 24

Written by Laurence Boyce on . Posted in Special Edition

be Kind Rewind DVD coverLaurence Boyce had just got back from enjoying the vodka in Krakow and sunning himself in Portugal and was ready to get back into business. And then his computer blew up. It’s always the way isn’t it? Thanks to friends, some technical nous and a lot of crossing his fingers, he’s managed to sort out the problems and is ready to bring Special Edition # 24 to the world. There are plenty of exciting new releases (Ok, not as new thanks to the computer/explosion problem), classic films and – yes he’s returned to the column – some Doctor Who for you to share. I know that – with only music festivals and sporting events on the television – that you’ve been waiting in breathless anticipation. Well wait no longer because, like a ghost in Ghostbusters, the column has been rescued from the grave with an extra, special bumper column

Speaking of Ghostbusters (seamless segue, eh? Look it’s been a stressful time trying to get this column up. What do you want. Blood?), it’s one of the films that is ‘sweded’ in Michel Gondry’s delicious slice of madness Be Kind Rewind (Pathe Releasing) which sees numerous classic 80s films remade by Jack Black and Mos Def. Def plays Mike, the hapless owner of video store whose livelihood is thrown into turmoil when his friend Jerry – who has become magnetized – accidentally erases every video in the shop. So the duo decide to remake the films (a process that becomes known as ‘sweding’) becoming a cult hit in the meanwhile and the toast of the neighbourhood. Gondry once again comes up with a cult masterpiece that’s full of invention and crazy ideas that is really a joy from start to finish. There’s a genuine sense of glee with the remakes whilst there’s also a heart to the film that stops it from becoming one long joke. The extras are a lot of fun, including a – decent for once – making of the film and it might almost inspire you to remake the film yourself, a bit like these lads here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B0dJQ35rDs

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days DVD CoverOnto more serious matters as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Artificial Eye), the winner of the 2007 Palme d’Or, makes its way on to DVD. It's a bleak but affecting film about 17 year old girl Gabita whose pregnancy coincides with the final days of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania, a time when abortion crossed the line from being illegal to murder. With their help of her friend, Gabita finds a back room abortionist but finds herself dragged into a world where money overrules ethics and compassion. Often harrowing, the film drags you into it’s terrible story with an almost unpleasant ease with director Cristian Mungiu’s stark direction and a revelatory performance from Anamaraia Marinca as the girl whose innocence is slowly taken away from her. Important and vital filmmaking that is difficult to watch but absolutely essential to see.

Dreamland DVD CoverGrowing up is also dealt with in a gentler way in Dreamland (DNC Entertainment), which sees two young American girls while away the summer after graduating from high school. Unsurprisingly, their life is thrown into turmoil when a new boy turns up in town forcing both to face up to their futures and decide upon their place in the world. The story initially seems very ‘TV movie of the week’ and – indeed – never really contains that many surprises. But the stunning direction – it’s a debut feature from Jason Matzner – marks the film out with some absolutely stunning use of the desert location. Indeed, an American trailer park has rarely looked so beautiful. A genuine discovery, this is a sexy and enchanting film that transcends its source material to become something quite unique.

Hot Tamale DVD CoverMore desert heat, but this time we move on to LA with Hot Tamale (Icon Home Entertainment). Described as ‘a wild caper with jewel thieves, hit men, sexy femme fatales’ it initially seems to hit you over the head with it’s ‘hey, look at me, I’m a cool American Indie Film’ credentials. And given that it stars Jason Priestley and Carmen Electra it has the feeling that it’s trying to be kitsch and cool. Unsurprisingly, it fails and comes across as a mess of a low budget film that is destined to stay at the bottom of the DVD shelves for quite a while. Harlan heads towards the bright lights of LA to find his fortune. Along the encounters a possible criminal, a femme fatale and somewhere Tarantino weeps in sorrow for the amount of poor imitators who have sprung up in his wake. The actors are phoning it in, the direction is perfunctory and it’s all a bit dull. At the risk of sounding like every other film critic – but what the hell – Hot Tamale ends being rather tepid.

Robbery DVD CoverIf you really want a great crime film then look no further than Peter Yates’ Robbery (Optimum Classic) which steals it’s way on to the shiny discs that we all love. Inspired by the Great Train Robbery, the film follows the fortunes of a gang of criminals who have planned the perfect robbery. Unsurprisingly, their plans start to unravel and things threaten to go wrong as the old adage ‘crime doesn’t pay’ begins to become horribly true. This is classic British film making with some typically great acting (including Stanley Baker who shows why he is still one of the most underrated actors from this country), a tight plot. and a brilliant 'swinging 60s' vibe. If people bang on about how such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are great British Gangster movies, stick this on and change their minds. 

Run For The Sun DVD CoverRoy and John Boulting directed some of the best British films of the post war period whilst working with such actors as Peter Sellers, Terry Thomas, Robert Donat and Ian Carmichael. Whilst chiefly known for their comedies, The Boulting Brothers Collection (Optimum Classic - films available indivually) shows that they had a fine eye for drama as well. They craft a fine thriller in Seven Days To Noon which  sees the Houses of Parliament face a bomb threat whilst Suspect presents an even more lurid plot in which documents concerning a highly experimental germ go missing (and the film has the extra delight of Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence and Spike Milligan all in the same film!). Finally, they focus on more exotic climes in Run For The Sun as Richard Widmark and Jane Greer play lovers who crash their private plane only to find their rescuers are escaped Nazi war criminals. The Boulting Brothers have a knack of giving even the most shoddy material some kind of of spark and excitement and – whilst none of the films in the collection reach the heights of their greatest work – afficianados of classic British cinema wouldn’t go far wrong in picking them up. 

Screen Icons: Richard Attenborough DVD CoverHe’s a British national treasure, who is such a good actor that we’ve forgiven him for the dodgy accent that he sported in Jurassic Park. Yes,  Screen Icons: Richard Attenborough (Optimum Classic) shows the great man in a collection of some of his lesser known roles. The Angry Silence sees him play a worker who stands up for his beliefs and family when he refuses to join a strike whilst The Man Upstairs sees him portray a mentally disturbed man drawn into a standoff with his friends, neighbours and the police. He also appears as morally ambiguous grifters and spivs in Dunkirk and The Ship That Died Of Shame whilst even finding time to star in a couple of Boulting Brothers comedies, namely Private’s Progress and Brothers In Law. His crowning achievement in the set is, of course, his masterful turn as Pinkie in Brighton Rock – also directed by the Boulting Brothers – that  reamins one of the best British films every made. Whilst each film has a delicious sense of ‘afternoons snuggled up in front of the telly in front of the fire’, each really shows the range of Attenborough, being able to play heroes and villains with equal aplomb and always managing to retain our empathy. A series of films that deserve to be re-discovered thanks to the acting talents of one of Britain’s true greats.

Screen Icons: Gerard Depardieu DVD CoverOne of the greatest performers in France also gets a release of his own in Screen Icons: Gerard Depardieu (Optimum World) that collects a diverse range of the actor’s work. His ability to deliver light comedy is shown in Mon Pere Ce Hero as a father who must deal the jealousy he feels when  his young daughter begins to fall in love whilst he plays darker comedy in Buffet Froid playing a man who unwittingly becomes involved in a series of events that lead to murder. He delivers a more serious performance in Le Colonel Chabert as he plays a solider who returns from the Napoleonic wars after 10 years. He finds his wife re-married and must prove whether he is the person who he claims to be. Those who remember the rather anaemic Hollywood remake Sommersby would find much to admire here with a dramatic story and a convincing performance from Depardieu in the central role. The set is rounded off by Tous Les Matins Du Monde  in which Depardieu plays a man who begins to learn the viola from one of the world’s greats. A fine set of films that showcase Depardieu's ability to bring either a louche sexuality or a quiet diginity to his performances.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Collection DVD CoverIf Britain has Attenborough and France has Depardieu then Austria has Schwarzenegger. Yes, the actor known for his mastery of technique, searing acting style and command of the English language (note – all these are utter lies) is honoured with The Arnold Schwarzenegger Collection (Optimum Classic). Though they really should have called it The Man with Big Muscles Kills Lots of Things Collection.  He kills things in a communist way in Red Heat, in a rogue way in Raw Deal,  in a sword and sorcery way in Red Sonja and in a futuristic way in Total Recall. And that’s it really. Actually, Total Recall is a quite interesting movie as Paul Verhoeven uses it to explore notions of perception and reality in an era in which notions or what is or isn't real have begun to disintergerate. But if you are buying this set, then you’re probably not going to care about that so I should also tell you that i the films also contains a woman with three breasts and someone gets killed by a drill. There, that should appeal to everyone: especially fans of three-breasted women with drills.

Bill Douglas Trilogy DVDWe snap back into the world of serious filmmaking with the Bill Douglas Trilogy (BFI) which sees the Scottish director tell the story of young Jamie as he grows up in a poor mining village. Largely autobiographical, the films – My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home – are stark affairs as our protagonist grows up in brutal circumstances, forced to deal with a disintegrating family and a community devastated by hardship. But – despite their ostensibly bleak nature – the three films are full of a rare honesty and hope as Douglas captures even the most depressing of circumstances with an eye for the beautiful and optimism for the future. As movies about growing up, this trilogy really does rate alongside  such greats as the Apu trilogy and Truffaut’s series of Antoine Doinel films. The extras are fascinating, including a new documentary about Douglas and a chance to see Douglas’s student short Come Dancing.

A Comedy Of Power DVD CoverClaude Chabrol is still going strong and his latest film A Comedy Of Power (ICA Films) is an intriguing if slightly flat drama focussing on business corruption. Isabelle Huppert plays a magistrate intent on exposing those who would embezzle funds to pay for expensive holidays, mistresses and all the other perks that rich business often seem to like. Whilst a film that basically focuses upon fiddling expenses doesn’t exactly hold out much hope for dramatic tension, Chabrol makes the best of what he’s got with plenty of intense interrogation scenes between Huppert (who is very good) and the corporate fat cats. The whole ‘battle of the sexes’ theme throughout the movie does feel a trifle forced but this is a compelling, if slightly talky, watch.

The Elephant Man – Special Edition DVD coverAfter his unconventially brilliant Eraserhead, David Lynch continued to focus upon the weird and wonderful outcasts of society. But, as The Elephant Man – Special Edition (Optimum Classics) shows, he did so in a way no-one was expecting. Gone were the low-budget FX and bare sets to be replaced with a beautifully realised Victorian London. Gone was the surreal and random nature of the work to be replaced by a strong and moving narrative following the life of John Merrick who – as a sufferer of a congenital disease – becomes infamous in Victorian society as ‘The Elephant Man’. But remaining the same is the invention and scale of vision that manages to both move and shock. It’s still amazing that the film was only Lynch’s second feature  and equally as amazing that the film remains powerful to this day thanks to Lynch’s direction and John Hurt’s stunning performance in the central role. This special edition comes with featurettes and interviews, including a brilliant chat with Lynch who is surprisingly candid about his experiences of making the movie.

Picnic At Hanging Rock DVD CoverPeter Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock (Second Sight) remains one of the most haunting and provocative films ever made, telling the story of a group of schoolgirls who go missing whilst taking a trip in the Australian Outback in the 1900s. The local community demand to know what has happened but – much like the girls who dissapeared on the fateful day– answers will not readily be found. Weir’s dreamlike direction and refusal to give easy explanations still resonates today and is as powerful as it was when the film was first released. Juxtaposing a closeted English society with the untamed wilds of the Australian bush, the film is a perfect synergy of acting, cinematography and music. This deluxe edition is superb with two versions of the film – the director’s cut and the original version of the film- and a disc full of extras that shed light upon the making of the film and some of the possible meanings behind it.

The Cars That Ate Paris DVD coverSlightly less haunting (though if you are scared of cars then perhaps even more so…) is Weir’s debut feature The Cars That Ate Paris (Second Sight). You never want to go the town of Paris, Australia, as the residents there are slightly sinister and have a way of making sure that visitors never return home. When it becomes clear the people of Paris are forcing people into car crashes and living off the profits, Arthur Waldo must find a way to survive. This is more black comedy than horror (though there is quite an unsettling edges to proceedings) as Weir pokes fun at small town mentalities and some of the more ridiculous facets of the horror genre. If you’re big time into your gore, then this will be disappointing, but those who want a bit of subtlety will find this a dark delight

Small Town Folk DVD CoverThe horror and humour continues in Small Town Folk (DNC Entertainment) a dark British debut from Peter Stanley Ward. The strange town of Grockelton houses Beesley Manor, an evil place headed by an despicable landlord who is determined to continue his family name, no matter what the cost. So when a young couple accidentally stumbles across the lair, they meet up with him and everything is sorted out amicably over a spot of lunch. Okay, not really. They find themselves in a fight for survival against various half-breeds and other scary characters. Subtlety isn’t the name of the game and any film that boasts Warwick Willow Davis as it’s biggest star isn’t exactly going to set the world alight. But this is a fun low budget piece of work that will while away a couple of hours and  there is a lot of promise for its director in the future.

Diary of the Dead DVD coverA horror director with slightly more provenance is George A Romero, who slightly re-jigs his most famous franchise in Diary Of The Dead (Optimum Releasing). Here a group of film students find themselves caught in the middle of a zombie epidemic. Whilst deciding how to deal with the terror around them, they documenthe situation that they face as they fight for their lives. Typical film students: it's the end of the world and they want to to make it count towarrds their final project.  Some will survive whilst others will find themselves members of the undead. Even worse, some may even end upo as runners on a low budget feature (only kidding). Whilst it’s good to see Romero try and do something new with the franchise, you can’t help thinking that his points about voyeurism and perceptions are somewhat forced, as he were somehow justifying the gore on offer. A shame as the film has a lot to offer, even if it feels slightly redundant compared to the rest of the films in the series. But with a double disc chock full of brilliant extras – including a documentary examining the impact of Night Of The Living Dead – there is a worthwhile investment for horror fans.
Syndromes and a Century DVD coverApichatpong Weerasethakul (who, thankfully for those who don’t have a grasp of the Thai language, also is known as Joe) is one of the most bold and visionary directors that Thailand – and the world – has to offer. Often compared to David Lynch, Weerasethakul’s films are expressionistic, surreal and downright brilliant. Based upon his childhood memories of his parents (both doctors) and growing up in hospitals, Syndromes and a Century (BFI) is no different as we’re thrown into a series random encounters with a variety of weird and wacky characters (including the doctor who hides his drink in a prosthetic limb). The lack of structure is the film's virture with a freewheeling and dreamlike nature permeating proceedings. Strange, surreal and very, very good this is bold and provactive filmmaking at it's finest.

The collaboration between Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, as documented in the aptly named Jeunet & Caro Box-Set DVD coverhas been responsible for two of the most visually brilliant of the mid 90s. Delicatessen is still a visual delight set in a future world in which a butcher has found unethical means to deal with a world food shortage. Playful, dark and – often – very funny, the film remains a highly stylised and highly entertaining piece of work. The same can be said for The City of Lost Children in which Ron Hellboy Perlman finds himself on a journey to save the lives of kidnapped children. Consistently inventive and exciting, this is a highpoint of fantasy cinema. Of particular interest is the inclusion of The Bunker Of Lost Gunshots an early short from Caron and Jeunet. Containing the elements that would inform their later collaborations, this tale of soldiers caught in an underground bunker is an elaborate and exciting affair.  A must for those who have yet to put these films in their collections.

The Edge Of Heaven DVD coverAnother visionary director is Fatih Akin, responsible for the searing film Head On. His latest, The Edge Of Heaven (Artificial Eye) is an intricately plotted story of disparate characters who must discover the truth about themselves whilst dealing with the strange situations that life deals them. The film begins with Ali, a Turkish immigrant living in Germany, who takes in prostitute Yeter. Soon his son becomes involved and events begin to take on a life of their own as we find ourselves in Turkey following the lives of yet more people. Paths cross and lives intertwine with far reaching consequences. Akin continues to prove his dexterity in mixing the melodramatic with simple as the dramatic events contrast with Akin’s calm and measured direction. A beautiful and emotional piece of work.  

The Hottie and The Nottie DVD CoverThere are a few things in life that confuse me. Algebra. Why socks seem to disappear in the washing machine. How George W became the most powerful man in the world. But these pale into comparison to Paris Hilton. I mean, what is she famous for? Because it’s certainly not acting if The Hottie and The Nottie (Pathe) is anything to go by. This dire piece of crap sees Hilton play a beautiful girl who is wooed by one of her first loves. Her only condition is that he find a partner for her ugly best friend. Oh, my aching fucking sides. This is sub teen comedy crap full of clichés, insulting epithets and Paris bloody Hilton. Utter shite, it doesn’t deserve to take up any time of your life at all. The DVD comes with extras but I didn’t watch them as I had already started to scratch my own eyes out watching this pile of rubbish….

Jason King: The Complete Series DVD cover Perms! Big collars! A moustache that should be classed as a national treasure! Yes, Jason King: The Complete Series (Network DVD) is here for all you groovy guys and chicks. Peter Wyngard (who many remember as the smooth talking and metal mask wearing Klytus in Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon) stars as the crime fighter/ adventure novel writer who solves crimes whilst in a variety of ever more exotic locations. Yes, the girls! The sun drenched beaches! The flares! It’s all complete rubbish of course but Wyngarde is just iconic as the blatantly sexist hero and – whilst it doesn’t have a place in the heart of other ITC shows such a 'Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)' – it’s still all enormous fun.

Flash Gordon DVD coverSpeaking of Wyngarde’s turn as Kltytus, you can see it in it’s full glory as Flash Gordon (Optimum Home Entertainment) gets a re-release on DVD. If you haven’t seen it, then all you need to know is that’s a got Sam J Jones playing our hero (who, fact fans, is dubbed throughout the movie), Brian Blessed being shouty (quelle surprise) and cameos from Timothy Dalton, Richard O’Brien and Robbie Coltrane (yes, he is in the film). Even proper actors such as Topol and Max Von Sydow turn up. This is the embodiment of a living comic book, with some gorgeous sets and an over the top story that never lets up for a second. It’s still difficult to reconcile the film with the fact that director Mike Hodges swear blind that the film is an allegory for American Foreign Policy of the time. I must admit, I’m having trouble seeing it myself…

Batman – Gotham Knight DVD CoverThe superhero of the moment is undoubtedly the man with the pointy ears, as The Dark Knight manages to wow audiences everywhere – and deservedly so. But if you're waiting to go and see it – or just can’t get enough – then Batman – Gotham Knight (Warner Brothers) might tide you over. This series of interlinked animations – all with a distinct Manga edge – follow our winged hero as he fights various villains including Killer Croc, The Scarecrow and Deadshot. Much like the feature doing the rounds, there’s a distinctly adult edge to proceedings with Batman portrayed as an avenging angel of the night whose use of violence will surprise those used to the camp antics of the 60s TV show. Kevin Conroy does an excellent job in the voice-over stakes, reprising the role he plays in the wonderful Batman – The Animated Series, and it should keep fans entertained. Whilst non-fans may feel slightly left out, it’s a great accompaniment to Christopher Nolan’s epic.

The Brain of Morbius DVD CoverNow that he’s left our TV screens with a thrilling ending, fans of the good Doctor will have to rely upon some classic stories to keep them occupied until the Christmas special. First up there’s The Brain of Morbius (BBC/2 Entertain) an atmospheric slice of Baker-era Who. Landing on a mysterious planet (as always) The Doctor, alongside companion Sarah Jane, finds himself involved in the machinations of evil Dr Solon who wishes to steal The Doctor’s body and replace the brain with that of the renegade time lord Morbius. Well, you didn’t think he was going to offer him a cup of tea did you? Taking it’s cue from Frankenstein, the story is a studio bound delight with the likes of Baker and Philip Madoc giving it all they’ve got and the production team doing their best with a limited budget. Usual excellent extras including a Making Of and commentaries round off a story that will be a must for fans and a great starting point for those wanting to find out more about classic era Who.

K9 Tales (BBC/2 Entertain)Next we have K9 Tales (BBC/2 Entertain) which sees everyone’s favourite metal dog (well, this is what I assume: it’s not as if there’s a massive competition or something) involved in two stories. First up we have 'The Invisible Enemy' which sees the robotic pooch make his debut in collaboration with Tom Baker. The Doctor does his usual heroics in trying to save the universe from an evil virus that does lots of things that are, erm, evil. This is typical Baker-era Who with a silly story balanced by Baker’s sense of fun and conviction at proceedings. The set also comes with 'K9 and Company 'which – up till the modern series – was the only spin-off show related to Who. Even the most ardent Doctor Who fan would be hard pressed to defend this as it’s pretty bad, with the dog teaming up with Sarah Jane-Smith (in a range of taste defying outfits) to pit their wits against some witches. With perhaps one of the most cringe inducing title sequences in TV history  and actors who are clearly getting ready to fire their agents. There are plenty of extras that will keep people happy, but one thinks that this will be a release for the fans only.

Torchwood Series 2 DVD CoverSpeaking of Who spin-offs, Torchwood Series 2 (BBC/2 Entertain) is also available for those who need their fix of Captain Jack and the rest of the team hidden under Cardiff. Always unsure of its status – is it an adult drama or a hokey sci-fi show? – this was the series that managed to find it’s feet with a few excellent episodes including a slam bang opener guest starring James ‘Spike’ Marsters, a well played comedy episode entitled 'Something Borrowed' and a dramatic finale. With a good ensemble cast (Joen Barrowman and Eve Myles are particularly strong in their central roles) the series has shown that the UK can produce good sci-fi. My only complaint is that set lacks any decent extras, especially a lack of any commentaries. Oooh, the fans aren’t going to be happy.

1 Giant Leap: What About Me? DVD cover1 Giant Leap: What About Me? (4DVD) is a musical odyssey created by British musicians Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto. The original film (a fine piece of work released in 2002) saw them travel the world and record some of the world’s finest musician’s to create a pieced that showed that music was truly a global language. In this new series, they build upon their themes, filming some of the greatest musicians in the world collaborating and improvising with others combined with examinations of the world around them. What results is a truly brilliant exploration of not only different forms of music, but of the different political and social upheavals happening in the world at this moment in time. If you’re interested in learning about new forms of music then this will be the perfect introduction whilst those who are already a fan will find much to celebrate.

In Sickness And In Health - Series 1 DVD CoverA person who deifinitely supports Mrs T is Alf Garnett. In 'Till Death Do Us Part '60s sitcoms were given a good kick with it’s polemical look at British class, mainly thanks to the bigoted rantings of Alf. In Sickness And In Health - Series 1 (BBC/2 Entertain) sees Alf brought into the 80s as continues to rail against the world in a Thatcherite Britian. But this time old age – and the poor health of his wife – gives him many new subjects to rave about. Writer Johnny Speight clearly enjoys trying to put the world to rights in an era when many people would have supported Alf rather than laugh at his bigoted opinions. The quality of scripts are top notch and played to perfection by Warren Mitchell and a frail Dandy Nichols as his ailing wife. There are a couple of moments when it descends into ‘whoops, where’s my trousers vicar’ sitcom territory’ but when the leads are left to argue with each other, this remains comedy gold. Shame they’re aren’t any extras at all as it would have been fascinating to hear about the genesis of the series.

Snuff Box DVD CoverIf 80s comedy was about breaking traditions then modern comedy seems to be about breaking the boundaries of taste. Two men who are very well suited to this are Rich Fulcher (best known as Bob Fossil in ‘The Mighty Boosh) and Matt Berry (best known for his role in the second series of ‘The IT Crowd’) who combine for Snuff Box (BBC/2 Entertain). A loose series of sketches and random ideas, Fulcher and Berry take great delight in making obscene jokes and generally seem to want to out gross each other on a regular basis. Whilst this does raise moments of humour, everything seems rather forced and watching all the episodes together, you can’t help but feel that you’re in the presence of children who want to get some attention and will do so by uttering the ‘f’ word repeatedly. Fulcher and Berry have been funny in their respective shows, but on the strength of ‘Snuff Box’ they don’t seem to click with each other. One for those who snigger at rude jokes.

Spitting Image - Series 2 DVD CoverAnd finally, Spitting Image - Series 2 (Network) sees those rubber puppets return for more satirical shenanigans and latex lampoonery.   Aired in the mid 80s, the show had plenty to poke fun at with MrsThatcher and Ronald Reagan (who's portrayal as a US President with no brian or intelligence just makes you feel glad that it didn;t happen again  ... oh, wait a second) all coming in for a savage skewering. The Royal Family also get what's coming to them in sketches that- believe it or not - actually shocked audiences of the day for draing to make fun of the hallowed family. Yes, it's really only funny if you know the political and social context of the time but this is ground breaking comedy that deserves to be remembered as more than the' show with the rubber puppets'

And relax... Special Editon WILL be back in around three weeks unless my computer blows up again/I break my arms/I win the lottery. Or perhaps some bizarre combination of the three. In the meantime, cogratulations to Martin Grund who won the last column's competition. He wins some books donated by those lovely, lovely people at Harper Collins of whom you can find out more here: http://www.fifthestate.co.uk/

If you want a chance to win some prizes, just tell me: where can we actually see Robbie Coltrane in Flash Gordon?. Answers to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the winner will be announced during the next column ... accidents allowing, of course.