Once a staple of ITV's programme schedules, the big-screen version of The Lovers! has been hard to find in recent years: its sole review on imdb illustrates how few people have spent time with Beryl and Geoffrey in the last couple of decades. Never released on any home entertainment format, and last glimpsed on terrestrial television in the late '80s, The Lovers! finally finds its way onto DVD in a brand-new transfer, offering both as-filmed (4:3) and as exhibited (1.75:1) picture formats.
The Lovers! is the story of Geoffrey (Richard Beckinsale) and Beryl (Paula Wilcox). Geoffrey is interested in just two things - Manchester United and sex (as personified by a bedroom poster of Bridget Bardot) - and his parents consider him a raver (though nothing could be further from the truth). Beryl thinks of sex as 'Percy Filth' and still has a crush on Paul McCartney (“he doesn't know you've been faithful to him since A Hard Day's Night” her mum reminds her). What lends the movie its rather naive charm is the fact that, to us, the audience, Beckinsale and Wilcox look like the picture of innocence, despite Geoffrey's supposed sexual cravings.
In many ways, The Lovers! is a much more accurate portrayal of the lives of young people in the early '70s than many of the more permissive films of that era. One key scene shows Geoffrey's parents at home watching an adult television programme and believing it to be based on real life whilst the kids are all at a party, conspicuously failing to 'get it on' and smoking grass from the front lawn. The reality never quite matches up to the idea, as Geoffrey and Beryl are constantly reminded.
Jack Rosenthal's adaptation of his highly successful sitcom looks almost like a late entry in the British New Wave, with its extensive location filming around Manchester, and it shares the same wistful mood as films like Billy Liar. The storyline might almost be described as a misery-free reading of A Kind of Loving. Like Stan Barstow's characters Vic and Ingrid, Geoffrey and Beryl go through the same tentative courtship, almost scene for scene, eventually falling out of love before getting back together. But for Geoffrey and Beryl, 'Percy Filth' doesn't get a look in, and it's Geoffrey's workmate who ends up in the Vic Brown-style shotgun marriage.
Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox both started their TV careers in Coronation Street (missing each other by just twenty-two episodes), which also provided Jack Rosenthal with his break into television scriptwriting. All would go on to enjoy further success after The Lovers, though for Beckinsale a promising career was curtailed by his tragically early death at the age of only 31.
Like all of Jack Rosenthal's best work, The Lovers! succeeds because we care about the characters. It may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but it creates a warm nostalgic glow, and unlike the studio-bound sitcom, the Mancunian locations give it a sense of belonging to a real place and a real time. This is the genuine article, 1970s Britain as it felt to those of us who inhabited that now mythical world: the cars, the clothes, the naff wallpaper... it's all here, right down to the Sven Hassel and Erich Von Daniken paperbacks on a railway station bookstall. There's even a Tony Christie theme song, Love and Rainy Weather. How '70s can you get?
It feels a world away from the contemporaneous offerings from the Carry On and Confessions franchises, and that's no bad thing. If it's 'Percy Filth' you're after, you won't find it here... and just remember what N.O. spells...
Reprising the television series roles which first made them household names, Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox star as Geoffrey and Beryl, a hesitant, inexperienced young couple attempting to negotiate the sexual minefield of the ‘permissive’ society. This big-screen transfer of Jack Rosenthal’s hugely likeable sitcom sees old-fashioned girl Beryl continuing to slap down the advances of her frustrated boyfriend, whose clumsy attempts to initiate ‘Percy Filth’ suggest he’s not quite up to speed himself! The Lovers! is featured here in a brand-new transfer from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.
Like everyone else, Geoffrey and Beryl want to fall in love – or they think they do; like everyone else, since Adam and Eve. But Adam and Eve didn’t live in Manchester in 1972…
 Full-frame 4:3, as-filmed version of main feature
 Original theatrical trailers
 Image gallery
 Press materials PDFs
- Herbert Wise
- John Comer
- The British Film
- Number of Discs
- 1.75:1 / Colour
- Mono / English
- 2 / PAL
- 89 mins approx