Beware – Unconventional Road Ahead: How Network Got the Green Light

July 15, 2022

By Tim Beddows, Managing Director, Network Distributing Ltd

Even I was sceptical. And I like daft ideas. At the height of a massively overcrowded videocassette market, who, I asked, would buy a tape of those?

We’re talking about public information films. They’d pretty well vanished from tv screens by the early 90s but before television fragmented into thousands of pieces, they were invariably as famous (that’s the first clue that went clean over my head) and memorable (a second) as the programmes they were wedged between. Unlike the cars they were warning you about, you couldn’t avoid them…and then they just seemed to vanish. And unlike programmes, they didn’t come back because there was no further outlet for them. They’d done their job. 

As a film collector, I had discovered a huge stash of the things in the basement of Central’s television studios in Birmingham, and they were in a state of limbo: they had been de-commissioned so weren’t to be aired again but equally the Central Office of Information hadn’t given instructions on what was to become of them. Return or junk are the usual options, but there they were attracting dust and the occasional moan from someone wanting the shelf space.

There was a previously unexplored third option: maybe I could buy them. This seemed unlikely given that the COI was a civil-servant operated machine, but that part of the process, and the subsequent licensing of them, proved relatively straightforward, possibly because there was no rule book to consult.

Central had their reservations. After all, I wasn’t in the industry, they didn’t think I really knew what I was buying and who would want to buy these things anyway? I can’t even remember what the hell I was doing there that day in 1993, but, in retrospect, it was a defining moment.

With an agreement reached between three parties, I roll up in a van to load, traipsing the corridors with trollies rammed with hundreds of little film cans, each filled with mini stories of every hue. The librarian was very sad to see them go and she appealed to me to ensure they were looked after ‘because they are a very important part of our cultural history’. She knew her stuff and I was true to my word. 

I called in a favour and had a large selection of them telecined (at BBC Pebble Mill, which, along with Central’s studios and even the COI, all sadly no longer exist) and it was on reviewing them with Martin Cater (who has found his own home within Network) that ludicrous ideas emerged. ‘You could put these out on video’. ‘What? Nah. Really? Well…’

It went from dismissal to possibility to actuality in less than thirty seconds, driven partly by the fact that I really did like the idea and partly that I didn’t have anything better to do at that time. I think being skint may have also had some bearing. 

The fun fair ride that followed, resulting in that best-selling tape, deserves a whole manual of its own, for what I single-handedly learned at that time really was the best education for what the business still does today. I just didn’t think we’d still be doing it twenty-five years later. Who would?

‘Charley Says’, led by an annoying, crudely animated cat voiced by Kenny Everett, was a collection of quick fixes and people couldn’t get enough of them. James Naughtie discussed it on ‘Today’, the Guardian did a ‘Pass notes’ on it, DJs sampled it for the clubs, Esther McVey boosted it on morning television.

Best of all, the VJ at HMV’s flagship store on Oxford Street, called to say that he’d played the tape on Saturday morning throughout the building and ‘punters just flocked around the screens’. Could they have some more? Sure. Thousands more. Thousands of people, all wanting a thirty second trip into their television past.

Recounting this story twenty-five years later, when so much has changed, arrived and disappeared; when you barely have time to blink and with so much put in front of you, like it or not, it is gratifying to know that we can still offer a little break from it all in form of something from the past as stirring, emotive and pioneering as anything made today.

And I still get a thrill breaking open a can of film that may not have been touched for decades and seeing what falls out. Luckily for Network, there is still so much to be rediscovered, much like those mini stories in the basement of Central Television twenty-five years ago.

‘Charley Says’ was the first hit but there have been many highlights in our history and we’ll be sharing twenty-five key moments with you very soon…



Comments:54

  1. Stephen Holland Reply
    22/07/16

    I think all the emotions and possibilities the went through your head on that day is what happens to us every time we see a new Network product. You have provided an invaluable service to British culture that goes way beyond nostalgia. You deserve the thanks of a nation, and your true reward must lie in TV Heaven. Thank you very much for the hours of enjoyment and for enhancing our lives for so many years.

    • David Reply
      22/07/16

      I totally agree with you Stephen, we’ve pretty much said similar.

  2. David Reply
    22/07/16

    Thank you for such a terrific article Tim. I’ve been with Network since the aforementioned first ever release. It’s hard to put into words, just how I’ve felt when you’ve released countless nostalgic titles, titles which I thought were unlikely to ever see a commercial release on DVD. One title that immediately comes to mind is “Johnny Jarvis”. I emailed in, suggesting it as a future release, and around eighteen months later you released it. Here’s to the next twenty-five years, you’ve played a vital role in keeping a significant percentage of our TV and film national heritage available for the masses.

    • Iain Reply
      22/07/16

      Wholeheartedly agree. I love browsing Network and discovering moments from my distant past. I have even discovered gems that had been lost to memory in the mists of time.

  3. Alan Paterson Reply
    22/07/16

    Really great to hear how Network started and those Charley films were part of my childhood too. That cat really was annoying though. These days I look out for the latest release from Network on Blu-ray as it has put me back in touch with so many TV series from my youth – particularly the Gerry Anderson shows and ITC action adventure series. We had great telly back then and most of it was shot on 35mm film, so when it’s transferred and restored it looks like new. I’m still hoping you’ll get the rights to the old Roger Moore ‘Ivanhoe’ series. Keep up the good work.

  4. David Ashby Reply
    22/07/16

    Remember buying the two VHS editions by mail order- and have been buying from Network ever since. Simply the best independent out there – always treating TV and film with love and care. Now – where’s Charley volume 3 🤣

  5. Stephen Brown Reply
    22/07/16

    Love those Charley Says DVDs, it has reminded me to take another look. Indeed a Charley Says vol 3 would be a welcome addition..25 great years of releases we well remember the early days with the fantastic ‘Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ first on VHS and then DVD, could I be presumptuous and ask if, in this 25th anniversary year, there are any plans for a lovely cleaned up blu-ray version. One can but ask.

  6. Tom Cotterill Reply
    22/07/16

    I well remember buying the DVD edition of the films and was thrilled with the content, later double dipping when the 2 disc edition arrived, however, to my dismay at the time, where was “There safest parker in town”?
    Reginald Molehusband was missing (feared dead ?). Subsequent trails of the web have located the full audio but only part of the visual.
    I can’t believe there isn’t a complete version languishing somewhere out there.
    So Tim, if you do come across it, it could justify a BluRay release of the full collection along with (in order of prefernce) The Champions, Danger Man, The Saint, Correct Ratio Special Eition of Thunderbirds, Strange Report, series 2 to 4 of the Sweeney, The Baron, Jason King, Return of the Saint and a left field request The Shillingbury film and series. Keep up the good work.
    Tom Cotterill (former pupil of Saint Edmunds Primary School, Dudley 1967-74

  7. Zenless Popcorn Reply
    22/07/16

    I bought both the DVDs when originally released, they fascinated me when I was a child (especially Charlie Says of course) so getting a whole collection was amazing.
    I would love to see this released on Blu-ray as one point, with maybe the story of how they were all collected and maybe information about missing public I formation films. Thinks like the Think! drink driving movies would be great to have as well if you could obtain them.

  8. Paul Davidson Reply
    22/07/16

    I have always loved public information films and I was recording a show which broadcast through the night on ITV at the time called The Little Picture Show. I would fast forward through it to find bits I thought were interesting and when I suddenly saw a clip from a Charley Says PIF I wound it back and when I realised a VHS had become available featuring a collection of PIFs I thought I had to have a copy. I was going to Glasgow the next day and thought I would easily be able to find it. HMV and Virgin megastore were next to each other but no sign in either so I came home disappointed.

    Two years later I started buying a magazine about cult tv shows and they mentioned the Charley Says VHS and where to buy it. I called them very excited but was told it was reprinting, so I asked if they could put me in touch with the distributor, who then put me in touch with Tim Beddows himself. He kindly told me he had a copy which he was willing to sell and on December 23rd 1997, it arrived in the post. It was so worth the wait and he was kind enough to talk to me when Charley Live was about to be released the following year. I then bought the original DVD release and Charley Says 2 when they were released.

    Network are great, in that they release obscure titles that maybe don’t sell in huge numbers but they know there are people out there who will buy them because they have fond memories of the programmes when they were first broadcast. After Charley Says, it would have to be The Owl Service that I most appreciate being released, what a great piece of television it is.

  9. Chris Hunt Reply
    22/07/16

    Dear Network
    Thank you for bringing back my adolescent years with your releases of all my fondly – remembered Tv favourites (The Saint, The Champions, Randall & Hopkirk (original one), The Baron and others). I no longer watch ‘mainstream’ TV, as in my opinion, nothing released today comes close to the 60s classics. Thank you again, keep them coming!

  10. Alan Hayes Reply
    22/07/16

    It’s been an incredible 25 years and what Network have achieved in that time is remarkable. I was there at the start, buying Charley Says… on VHS and other early releases on the format of The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Tales from Europe, Catweazle and The Flashing Blade.

    I’d love to see Blu-ray restorations of any or all of those to celebrate Network’s 25th… Just a little hint, there… 😉

    But from those days of grubby prints on VHS (not that that is a criticism; VHS prints from most companies issuing cult TV and film were grubby back then!), through DVD and now Blu-ray, the sheer breadth of material that Network have managed to unearth and release is simply staggering – and, lately, the restorations of the likes of the classic ITC series (more!!!) and wonderful, obscure gems like Space Patrol on Blu-ray have been a revelation. Happy to make shelf room for all of those.

    Without Network, I’d probably not have come to appreciate series like Public Eye, It’s Dark Outside and The Strange World of Gurney Slade. So, thank you Tim for starting it all and for making Network’s output such an important part of my life and – I suspect – that of many others, too.

    Congratulations on the quarter century. Here’s to the next 25!

  11. WILLIAM ENGLAND Reply
    22/07/16

    I really do think that those PIFs encapsulate England’s childhood more than some of the children’s programmes, as you didn’t have to decide whether to “like” the programme, they were just there and enjoyed as such. They were very informative and convincing – usually re-enforcing their parents words of warning. Even Petunia, who wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Carry On film (if she was human, obviously).
    Being judged to be of no value does remind me of the times with Palace Video at the beginning of the (pre-BBFC) “video boom” where everything came in VHS and Betamax options, and duplicated in real time, but b/w films were never distributed in London as “they wouldn’t spend money (£49.99) on a black and white film” – which gave rise to the (mercifully short) period of colourisation.
    Ahh, the times before computers… internet… mobile phones… *sigh*

  12. Paul Reply
    22/07/16

    I only discovered Network in the past couple of years. I’m enjoying discovering classic films and rediscovering films I haven’t seem for years. Especially British films.

  13. Kevin Hall Reply
    22/07/16

    Fantastic hearing how it all started with Charlie – would love more volumes of Charlie Says some day!

  14. Jonny Edwards Reply
    22/07/16

    I have been buying Network stuff since that release and have quite a collection now over VHS, DVD and BLU RAY. stuff i never thought i would see again. From Charly to Kit Curran, Kenny Everett to Count Arthur Strong….. Now if only you could collate surviving episodes of the TODAY show, featuring all that remains of the Sex Pistols appearance, life would be complete.

  15. Dean Fletcher Reply
    22/07/16

    25 years wow is it that long I remember buying Charlie Says on vhs back in the day and again when released on dvd and the original Catweazle tapes that where released not long after which is one of my all time favourites to those long summer school holidays without a worry in the world such happy days.
    As Catweazle was all location film recordings it would be lovely one day to see a hd transfer Blu ray release.
    Many thanks for the past 25 years and many more to come.

  16. Roger Shore Reply
    22/07/16

    So much classic stuff I would now to see on blu-ray like Charley Says if the film elements still exists….. But DVD was a great start… I suspect in a few years you’ll be getting “When can we get the 4k?”

  17. Alan Cornforth Reply
    22/07/16

    I am happy to congratulate Network on 25 years and for releasing a huge amount of archive TV – most of which i bought. However, in the past few years there has not been too much to shout about and yet there are so many old gems gathering dust that have never seen the light of day. I appreciate you will not sell vast amounts of old British comedies/ dramas but I am sure a bit of crowd funding might appeal to people like me who don’t have time on their side!!

  18. Patrick Kennedy Reply
    22/07/16

    Writing from Chicago. Charley Says? What’s all this then? Until I find out, my education is incomplete. Off I go…

  19. Kevin broad Reply
    22/07/16

    Just to say a big thanks to network . Long may u continue . I remember seeing g the Charley says dvd along with the sweeney in virgin megastore . . Long before all the other famous titles. Hadn’t heard of network . Little did I know what treats lay ahead thanks to u network. Many thanks. To have complete series like the saint, the baron etc is paradise.

  20. Phil Marsh Reply
    22/07/16

    Fascinating to see how it all started – I have the PI films on the dvd set, along with many more from Network. I hope that Central Librarian found herself a copy.

  21. Dan Barratt Reply
    22/07/16

    Lovely to hear how it all began. There’s something so stirring in hearing about popular culture gems being saved like this and given new life. I remember chatting to Tim many years ago when Network had first acquired the rights to Robin Of Sherwood. I was working at Virgin Megastores at the time and the excitement Tim shared was so inspiring. So many years later and that passion and excitement is clearly still there. We now have a house full of Network releases, many of which are some of most lovingly restored and cherished things we possess. Some say physical media’s days are numbered. For me, I think we live in a golden age where so much of our cultural history is resurrected and made available to us by amazing companies like Network who really care so passionately about what they do.

  22. Johan Collé from the Netherlands Reply
    22/07/16

    When I was young, I absolutely loved The Thunderbirds. I didn’t want to miss any episode, the rockets were showing off in my room just like the pink FAB. I didn’t realize that Gerry Anderson was the big creator of this, let alone that he had created more series. When the Thunderbirds ended on television in the Netherlands, Captain Scarlet came and after that the Gerry Anderson chapter ended, but my interest in more such series from this creator remained, but did they exist ? When the internet came along many years later, I found out that Gerry Anderson had created many more series than the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. My world opened up, Joe 90, Stingray, Fireball XL5 and you name it. Gradually after years of collecting Gerry Anderson merchandise, I discovered Network and subscribed directly to the newsletter. Every time I received a newsletter was a feast. In addition to everything from Gerry Anderson, Network also opened up a world of British series and films that I had never heard of in the Netherlands. Now I regularly order films and series from Network in addition to everything Gerry Anderson had released. I enjoy it as much as I did when I was that young boy who enjoyed The Thunderbirds. If it weren’t for Network, I would never have known and own all those old unique British series and movies. Keep up the good work. My compliments for preserving all those jewels of British classic series and movies.

  23. Jason Figgis Reply
    22/07/16

    Thank you David for all of your pioneering endeavours. I have a huge collection of Network one offs and box sets and you have literally been responsible for giving me many hours of incredible pleasure by allowing me experience and re experience all of the amazing reprogramming from my youth – from a time when the real special effects were great storytelling and great actors. Thank you a million times over.

  24. Jason Figgis Reply
    22/07/16

    Thank you Tim for all of your pioneering endeavours. I have a huge collection of Network one offs and box sets and you have literally been responsible for giving me many hours of incredible pleasure by allowing me experience and re experience all of the amazing reprogramming from my youth – from a time when the real special effects were great storytelling and great actors. Thank you a million times over.

  25. John Halton Reply
    22/07/16

    Network has been a godsend for so many of us who thought we would never again have the opportunity to see the vintage TV and movies we cherished in our younger years. Whilst I continue to scour Ebay for a reasonably priced copy of ‘Airline ‘ with Roy Marsden (or await a possible re-release), I must try to avoid the temptation of your new releases!!! Thank you for providing so much enjoyment over the years and wishing you all the best for an even more successful future.

  26. Delmo Walters Jr. Reply
    22/07/16

    Fascinating article! I hope one day you can get the rights to Roger Moore’s 1st tv series IVANHOE, as I can’t see Sony doing anything with it, and the Simon Dutton Saint series needs a proper release, better than the Umbrella version from some years back.

    • Rex Reply
      22/07/17

      Delmo: Ivanhoe is an odd omission from DVD, so I can only assume there’s some kind of issue with it being a co-production. My guess is that the UK rights are probably not with Sony, but some obscure independent producer – and all that can bring with it…

  27. Damon Shaw Reply
    22/07/16

    Thank you for releasing so much wonderful archive television programmes over the years and lots of old British films. I have bought hundreds of your releases and you have provided me with so much happiness watching old favourites and watching programmes I’d never seen or heard of before. Sitcoms are my favourite and I’ve rewatched the likes of Nearest And Dearest, Only When I Laugh, Till Death Us Do Part, Sykes, On The Buses, Agony, Sink Or Swim, Thick As Thieves, Cowboys, A Fine Romance, The Larkins, A Sharp Intake Of Breath, Till Death…, Shelley, Oh No It’s Selwyn Froggitt, The Army Game, Selwyn, Bootsie And Snudge. The Rag Trade and countless others. I love all the other TV genre gems from the past you’ve released with my favourites including The Sweeney, Sergeant Cork, The Prisoner, Public Eye, King And Castle, Moody And Pegg, The Saint, Man In A Suitcase, Space: 1999, The Persuaders, Danger Man, The Champions and, again, countless others. I love the fact that you’ve released series where not many episodes survive, I just want to see as much old telly as I can. I also love the fact that you’ve released complete sets of programmes that most publishers would be too scared to release in this age of the professionally offended like Curry And Chips, Mind Your Language, The Losers and Love Thy Neighbour.

    I’ve been sad to see the amount of old TV you release diminish dramatically over the years but each new archive TV DVD release published in these later slim pickings years such as Dial 999, The Woman In Black, Maigret, The Kit Curran Radio Show, Cribbins, Ffizz, Journey Of A Lifetime and recently The Vise, Richard The Lionheart, The Vise: Mark Saber, The Cheaters, Saber Of London and The Cheaters has been awaited with relish and purchased. I’m still sad though that the rare programmes on the ABC Nights In releases showed up in a ‘postage stamp’ format rather than full-screen on a 4:3 TV as they would have been originally viewed on transmission. I watch all 4:3 ratio programmes and films on 4:3 CRT TV sets and this was a huge disappointment.

    I really hope the release schedule can include more archive TV DVD releases amongst the landscape of films (which I do love and have masses of your releases) and de-luxe blu-ray collector’s sets of programmes previously released on DVD which has been the norm for you over the last few years.

    Anyway, I wish you a very happy 25th anniversary and you are the best DVD company ever – thank you for all the enjoyment and sheer viewing bliss you’ve given me in the past and, I hope, in the future!

    Damon from Salford.

    • Rex Reply
      22/07/17

      There are ways around the pillarboxing on the ABC episodes. You might be able to force 4:3 centre crop on your player settings, otherwise a few minutes on the PC will help. I also like watching archive TV on a CRT – I stand with the retro gamers on that one!

      • Damon Shaw Reply
        22/07/17

        Thanks for your reply.

        Sadly, I’ve tried everything and nothing can make my DVD players or TV sets display the programmes on those sets in the correct ratio. I have to pretend I’m watching on a portable set when viewing them. A real disaster of a set of releases, though Joe at Network via emails was keen to understand the problem and was very courteous. At least some of the programmes on those sets like The Bruce Forsyth Show, Dial 999 and Hullabaloo got full series releases in the correct ratio and subsequent archive DVD releases from Network have been in the full-screen format that viewers who watched these shows on original television transmission dates would have seen them in.

        Cheers!

        • Rex Reply
          22/07/19

          If you have a DVD-R drive on your computer, you could visit the videohelp website and they should be able to help you out. And that’s probably all I can say here without getting into trouble!

  28. John Gilder Reply
    22/07/16

    About time The Intruder ,(Granada TV) was released. What is the problem?

    • Damon Shaw Reply
      22/07/16

      I’d buy that on day of release! We can dream of this and the other series from the past still unreleased.

      I’d love them to finish series they’ve left incomplete such as Mrs. Thursday, Bootsie And Snudge, Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, Cannon And Ball and others.

      Cheers!

    • Rex Reply
      22/07/17

      The Intruder was based on a book, wasn’t it? I would guess that underlying rights were the problem, or an issue with film elements. The episode on Look Back wasn’t from a broadcast master from what I recall, and Network were touting a release with new film transfers. If there weren’t usable prints, and the tape transfers were rubbish, the only option would have been new prints or scanning the negatives – both budget busting options then.

  29. Andrew McKendrick Reply
    22/07/16

    My childhood / adolescent years were spoilt with excellent television. The BBC are sitting on a huge pile of uxexploited video. I look forward to seeing The Fourth Arm, and Shoulder to Shoulder, at some point in the near future.

  30. Tim Munton Reply
    22/07/17

    Fantastic to hear in detail of Network’s origins – thank you. The 1st Network one I bought were the Catweazle vhs’s (& the dvds of this later also).
    I now have literally hundreds (maybe 300 or more) of Network dvds.
    My favourite ones – or at least the favourites that spring to mind right now – include Robinson Crusoe, Scotland Yard, Catweazle, the Armchair Theatre releases, Danger Man, the Prisoner … and so on.

    I’d especially love to see fully restored at HD level releases of The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe, Danger Man & others.
    And perhaps most of all Series One of Catweazle; especially as I would imagine that improvements in audio restoration mean that the quality of the soundtrack to this can probably now be improved.
    The vhs & dvd sound was ok but indistinct at times: I realise this is mainly due to the limitations of how it was originally recorded (low budget & on location). But now perhaps technology can give its audio a bit of a boost in clarity.
    Improved picture for Catweazle Series One would be great too of course – but it’s the audio that needs added shine the most. Anyone know if technology can now noticeably improve it beyond the quality of the DVD release?

    Thanks again for the article. What a brilliant label Network is.

  31. Tim Munton Reply
    22/07/17

    Ps. to my comment above:
    Must also give Shelley (all of its various 10 series) a special mention as a real favourite – and used to love it when originally broadcast too.
    I remember the increasing gap between the release of its series & then what seemed like a long, long wait after Series 6 for the rest if them. It felt like perhaps Series 7 – 10 would never be released. Then eventually wham! Series 7, 8, 9 & 10 all in one go in a boxset!
    The releases of Public Eye & Callan also more than deserve a special mention as being pure tv treasure also.

  32. Rex Reply
    22/07/17

    Twenty-five years… Wow, where has all the time gone? I remember those VHS releases, and choosing to pass on them because of this newfangled DVD thing that was arriving… Fortunately the Network titles did end up on disc, unlike many others I passed up on that have now disappeared into rights hell (Hello TVS, hello Disney!). But I don’t think anyone foresaw where Network would go when they did embrace the new format.
    Thanks to Network I actually own decent copies of so many series I never thought I’d even get to see – not even on a grotty bootleg – and all for a fraction of the price they would have cost on VHS. They’ve even dug out titles I’d never heard of, despite me being a card carrying nerd and anorak. It’s truly remarkable work, and I thank them for it.
    That’s not to say it’s all been perfect – the dodgy encoding, occasional wrong masters used, the odd case of noise reduction turned up to 11, etc – but Network always seemed to be a company with its heart in the right place, taking chances and making things work when other companies would have baulked; it would have been easy to focus on the big, “safe” titles, but that wasn’t the Network way. Even now they’re still supporting discs and collectors when there are easier routes to making a living.
    Going forwards, I’m pretty happy with what Network is currently doing but I would like to see a return of the odd studio-based or non-ITC TV title to the schedule – there must be a few that could generate acceptable sales, and perhaps the suggestion of crowd funding is a good one if any rights issues can be worked out. Maybe ITV could even be persuaded to license their HD masters of things like Morse, Frost or Jeeves and Wooster (the ones that haven’t been released legally on BD overseas)?
    I wasn’t expecting to say that much, but I am genuinely grateful to Network and wish them all the best for the next twenty-five years. My collection would be significantly smaller if Mr Beddows hadn’t decided to take a wild punt on that first release – and people hadn’t backed him by buying it. So, thank you, Tim, and thank you fellow customers.

  33. Francis North Reply
    22/07/17

    You have done some fantastic work and it is much appreciated!

  34. Stephen Thwaites Reply
    22/07/17

    I remember buying Charley Says on VHS (mail order if I remember) and it took me back to the early 80s when I was about 10, and every Saturday morning on my local ITV channel (Border) there were no adverts, just PIFs! It was great. Who needed to know about the latest toys, or cereals? Not me! I needed to know how not to get electrocuted at power stations, or how not to set fire to the house with matches, as well as remembering to use the Green Cross Code (still use it to this day and I’m 48!)

    I remember a PIF probably only shown in Borderland called ‘Watch out for sheep on the road’. Love em!

    Well I just wanted to add to the congratulations by saying I’ve got so many network DVDs and blurays. Lots of titles I’d never heard of, but like Network, I took a punt on adding them to my collection.

    Seriously, without Network, hardly any of these programmes would ever see the light of day again. Keep em coming and I’ll keep buying!

    Here’s to the next 25 years!

  35. Rick Davy Reply
    22/07/17

    I bought the ‘Charley Says’ release and some of the other early releases such as ‘The Flashing Blade’ and ‘Catweazle’ (can I echo Alan’s comments/plea for a BluRay+Soundtrack release?), and it was these releases that began my love affair with Network. The company, and I am not overstating or resorting to hyperbole, through their releases has become an essential part of my life (and, in a good way, an essential part of my diminishing bank balance!) My shelves at home are packed with DVDs and BluRays which have all been released with so much care and love and affection.

    I have just written the following piece for my website, theunmutual.co.uk (dedicated to perhaps Network’s most iconic release, ‘The Prisoner’):

    Never before has a company devoted so much time and resources to ‘The Prisoner’. Their 2007 40th anniversary release, unveiled in Portmeirion at the PM2007 event, was a stunning restoration from the original negatives and, like the 50th anniversary set 10 years later, was a release packed with special features – what other company could have produced not one, but two feature-length documentaries (‘Don’t Knock Yourself Out’ and ‘In My Mind’) about the series, recorded audio commentaries, produced text commentaries and books detailing the complete production history of the series, and gathered together so much behind-the-scenes footage and photographs?

    Their 50th anniversary event in 2017 at Portmeirion was unrivaled in terms of content and guests, and still to this day they are uncovering new never-before-seen content and continue their gradual restoration of ‘Danger Man’ in HD (with two iconic episodes included in their 2017 ‘Prisoner’ set, and others streamed via their online service).

    Having now released almost all of the content that ITC ever produced in the UK, Network have truly provided something for everyone. Friend of TUW, Network MD Tim Beddows, writes in a piece on the Network website; “it is gratifying to know that we can still offer a little break from it all in form of something from the past as stirring, emotive and pioneering as anything made today”

    From their very earliest release, a compilation of ‘Charley Says’ safety information films, right up to 2022 with the deluxe releases of ITC titles such as ‘Stingray’ and ‘The Persuaders’, the company has brought so much joy with several thousand releases of both TV shows and films, many thought lost forever, and certainly (other than a few flagship titles) none of which any other company would have taken the time and care to remaster and release.

    Thank you so very much, Network. Here’s to the next 25 years!

  36. Darren Schroeder Reply
    22/07/17

    Congratulations on 25years of great work helping audiences old and new enjoy classic tv shows and the occasional movie. Postage makes them a bit of a killer to get down here in New Zealand but the occasional sale gave me the chance to enjoy Turtle’s progress, Callan, and Mr Palfrey again. All the best for the next 25 years

  37. Peter Hingle Reply
    22/07/17

    Fantastic achievement and without Network I would not have been able to visit so many of my favourite TV series in HD, U.F.O., Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Department S, The Prisoner, Man In A Suitcase and more. Here’s to the next 25 and hopefully Danger Man and The Saint in HD, at some stage!

  38. Rob Dady Reply
    22/07/17

    Here’s to many more! If it was just for releasing Charley Says & The Flower of Gloster I would be eternally grateful; but then, there is Hunter’s Walk, Children of the Stones, oh I could go on, there are SO many essential releases. Thanks!

  39. Darren Hayward Reply
    22/07/17

    My very first Network purchase was Charley Says then came The Sweeney Regan, and now the HD remasters of the 2 cinema films on DVD then Special Branch and Edward the Seventh and the ITC shows starting with Strange Report , The Baron, Space 1999 series 1 Cloppa Castle, Man In A Suitcase Randall and Hopkirk, The Persuaders, Saint in Colour, Return of The Saint, The Champions, The Prisoner 40th, Danger Man, The Protectors, The Secret Service, The Adventurer, UFO in Blu-ray and the films Robbery, Tamarind Seed, The Quiller Memorandum, Silver Dream Racer, Deadlier Than The Male and Some Girls Do, Maroc 7, Movie Movie, Raise The Titanic, The Evil That Men Do, Five Golden Dragons, Man In The Iron Mask (1977), XYY Man, The Hard Wa,

  40. Millie Marsh Reply
    22/07/18

    Congratulations on 25 years!
    any chance of the series Forget me Not with the marvellous recently-departed Patricia Brake?
    Also, a marvellous series called Something in Disguise, starring Anton Rogers? Both of those were marvellous programmes and it would be wonderful to see them both again.
    Keep up the good work and here’s to the next 25 years!

  41. Jason Z Reply
    22/07/19

    Actually I’ve been meaning to ask you about a different series with a similar name: the 1984 detective drama ‘Charlie’, directed by Martin Campbell, written by Nigel Williams and starring David Warner and Frank Windsor. All are famous names. It was well-regarded I believe. Any chance of a release? 😉

  42. Mark Foster Reply
    22/07/20

    You learn something new every day: I must be the last of my generation who watched these ‘Charley Says’ PIFs to know the great Kenny Everett provided his vocal talents to the ginger moggy! Will wonders ever cease?! That said, I love reading how what was one small company has in 25 years has managed to achieve so much in providing everything we love regarding classic film and TV. Many congratulations Network!

  43. Lee Menadham Reply
    22/07/22

    As a long-time Network customer I can only add one thing to the adulation that’s already been offered: whatever you do, never get corporate!

  44. Mark Newell Reply
    22/07/23

    Dear Tim Beddows,
    Is there any chance of Network issuing more 1930s comedies and musicals?
    The British and Dominions titles of Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn haven’t been touched and you’ve only put out one film each of Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge.
    Thanks for all the rare titles.
    Best wishes,
    Mark Newell
    author “Oh, Calamity!” – the Lost, Damaged and Surviving Films of the Aldwych Farces and Farceurs

    P. S. I earlier suggested “Just Smith” and “All In!” (Gaumont and Gainsborough)

  45. Damon Shaw Reply
    22/07/23

    I couldn’t help myself but come back to mention even more of your TV DVD releases that I’ve bought over the years that have entertained me over and over again, they deserve a public mention;

    Man About The House, Pardon The Expression, George And Mildred, The Baron, Spooner’s Patch, Robin’s Nest, Kinvig, Dawson’s Weekly, Slinger’s Day, Romany Jones, Bless This House, That’s My Boy! (Jimmy Clitheroe), Lucky Feller, Pipkins, Tiswas, Maggie And Her, That’s My Boy (Mollie Sugden), Hallelujah!, Dangervision, You’re Only Young Twice, The Flower of Gloster, George And The Dragon, The World At War, Minder, Sir Francis Drake, Two In Clover, Man At The Top, The Main Chance, Don’t Drink The Water, A Very Peculiar Practice, Keep It In The Family, Alfresco, Upstairs Downstairs, The Doombolt Chase, Count Arthur Strong, The Cuckoo Waltz, Class Act, The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe, Flambards, In Loving Memory, Bless Me, Father, The Paper Lads, Gideon’s Way, Yus, My Dear, The Benny Hill Show, Watching, The Goodies and Escape Into Night.

    I feel guilty about leaving out a mountain of other programmes you’ve released, I’ve bought and enjoyed but we have to stop somewhere.

    I’m glad I still have DVD shelves full of Network TV and film releases that haven’t had their turn to be watched yet – masses more old favourites to revisit and countless titles I’ve never seen before to discover. Thank heavens for old telly and film and thank heavens for physical media!

    All the best.

  46. Tim D Reply
    22/08/16

    Hi, I’m new to the Network web-site but I do already own a fare number if your dvds

    The story of how Network was founded is fascinating and the passion and hard work shown for sourcing and making available so many TV and film gems from the mists of time probably strikes a chord with many who are drawn to this site.

    It’s wonderful to see so many of my childhood favourites are available like the staples of many a 70s Summer holiday TV schedules, The Flashing Blade and Belle and Sebastian. Not to mention comedies like Astronauts and dramas like Beasts.

    I own both the Charley Says dvds and love every nostalgia tinged second of them but I would like to ask about one PIF that was sadly missing which you may not even be aware of.
    I’m 99% sure it existed and I didn’t dream it. Basically it was a singing octopus advising on carrying the correct lights when boating at night. The song haunts me still but I can find no record online.

    It was interesting to see the Joe and Petunia series revived and updated in 2006 also I think there is a Christmas light one that was still being aired a few years back and on a more serious note, as shown during a very sad couple of years when information needs to be disseminated en masse to the general public there is still very much a place for public information films.

Comment on this feature:

Your email address will not be published.