“Upstairs Downstairs,” “Jeeves & Wooster” and “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” are just a few of the most excellent British titles released on DVD and Blu-ray year. Let’s take a look at 10 Must-Have sets for British TV and film fans.
1. Upstairs Downstairs: The Ultimate Collection
Released Nov. 25, 2014 — It’s no surprise that this popular British drama won seven Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody. The epic saga of life and love in Edwardian England captivated viewers for five heart-tugging, humorous, and satisfying seasons. The story follows the wealthy Bellamys and their loyal servants who shared a London home, surviving social change, political upheaval, scandals, and the horrors of WWI.
The ensemble cast includes Jean Marsh, David Langton, Gordon Jackson, Simon Williams, Lesley-Anne Down, and Nicola Pagett. This ultimate collection includes the complete Series 1-5, hours of bonus material, and the popular spin-off series Thomas & Sarah, starring real-life couple John Alderton and Pauline Collins.
2. Downton Abbey: Seasons 1-4
Released Oct. 21, 2014 — One set featuring all the romance, heartbreak, and scandal from this beloved series? Yes, please! Created by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey has been deemed “compulsively watchable” from the get-go by Variety. Led by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, and Maggie Smith, the acclaimed ensemble cast brings to life all the drama and intrigue of the inhabitants of Downton Abbey, the lavish English country manor, home to the Earl of Grantham.
This set includes the first four seasons of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series, following the Crawley family and their servants from pre-war England through the storms of World War I, and into the social upheaval of England in the 1920s as the lives of its inhabitants are shaped by romance, heartbreak, blackmail, and betrayal.
3. Jeeves & Wooster: Complete Collection
Released Nov. 25, 2014 — Long before Golden Globe winner and seven-time Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie played the cranky Dr. House on “House, M.D.,” he played bumbling aristocrat Bertie Wooster alongside BAFTA Award nominee Stephen Fry as his trusty valet, Jeeves, in this marvelous British comedy series based on the works by P.G. Wodehouse.
Set in 1920s England and New York, this delightfully daffy set, which includes all four series of the show, follows Bertie from one disastrous predicament to the next, whether he’s fending off the ever-present threat of matrimony, facing the disapproval of his domineering aunts, or appearing in a Broadway play. The unflappable Jeeves is always on hand with a clever plan to save Bertie from himself.
4. The Honourable Woman
Released Oct. 14, 2014 — Eight years after taking over the family company from her brother, Anglo-Israeli businesswoman Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is made a life peer for her continued commitment to the Middle East peace process.
When her new business partner dies in an apparent suicide, she is forced to delay the third phase of an ambitious and long-standing project: connecting the West Bank with optical fiber cables. Then Kasim, the son of a close friend of Nessa’s, is kidnapped, and bad memories are brought back. Also stars Andrew Buchan, Stephen Rea, Lubna Azabal and Janet McTeer.
5. Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Complete Cases Collection
Released Nov. 4, 2014 — This fabulous 33-DVD set (also available in a 28-disc blu-ray set) follows Hercule Poirot from his very first case to his final curtain call. It includes all 13 series of the beloved mystery, remastered and restored to original U.K. broadcast order.
Spanning 25 years and the entire Poirot canon, David Suchet s iconic portrayal of Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective has been hailed by the Telegraph as one of TV s greatest achievements. These 70 episodes of the hit mystery seen on public television are rich with period detail and feature some of film and television s brightest stars, including Michael Fassbender, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Damian Lewis, Tim Curry, Iain Glen, Christopher Eccleston, Aiden Gillen, Peter Capaldi, Lindsay Duncan, Hugh Bonneville, and many more.
BONUS FEATURES: Being Poirot documentary: David Suchet reflects on 25 years as Poirot while filming his final episodes, plus bonus interviews with Suchet and Agatha Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard (51 min.); Super Sleuths (47 min.): Documentary about the series featuring the stars and crew; David Suchet on the Orient Express (47 min.): A tour of the Orient Express and its history; behind-the-scenes featurette (46 min.), photo galleries, and production notes by David Suchet and Tim Curry; companion booklet with articles by David Suchet and Mathew Prichard; episode synopses; character profiles; information about Poirot; and — spoiler alert! — Poirot’s obituary.
6. Secret Agent: The Complete Series
Released Dec. 9, 2014 — Bring home the adventures of John Drake with the complete series set of the classic spy show “Secret Agent.” The 17-DVD box set from Timeless Media Group also contains a number of bonus features, including audio commentaries and a brand new interview with Catherine McGoohan.
Patrick McGoohan (“The Prisoner”) stars as John Drake in this popular TV series from the Golden Age of Spy Thrillers, the 1960s. Travelling the world to capture international criminals, John Drake rarely solved problems with a gun, preferring to use charm and wit over violence to bring in the bad guys.
Encompassing all 86 episodes from its successful broadcast run, “Secret Agent” (known in the United Kingdom as “Danger Man”) is an essential addition to any spy fan’s collection.
7. Classic Drama Collection
Released June 24, 2014 — A stolen kiss on the windswept moors, a glorious country house hiding terrible secrets, the witty banter that masks unspoken passion … this collection of award-winning dramas will transport you to the romantic eras of Brontë and Austen. Let’s take a closer look at the titles in this set:
- Jane Austen’s Emma – Beautiful, rich, and infuriating Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale) meddles in other’s romantic lives with unexpected results.
- Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre – A prim and principled governess (Samantha Morton) falls in love with her brooding, mysterious employer (Ciarán Hinds).
- The Woman in White – A disturbed woman holds a secret that could imperil the lives of two sisters. Starring Tara Fitzgerald, Justine Waddell, and Andrew Lincoln.
- The Lady’s Not for Burning – A beautiful woman accused of witchcraft (Cherie Lunghi) and a world-weary drifter (Kenneth Branagh) are thrown together before their executions.
- The Death of the Heart – In 1930s London, an awkward 16-year-old struggles to find herself through a disastrous love affair. Stars Robert Hardy, Miranda Richardson, and Patricia Hodge.
8. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series 2
Released May 27, 2014 — Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) is back with more intriguing mysteries and exquisite fashion. A private detective in 1920s Melbourne, Phryne has a knack for being in the right place at the right time — and she’s usually armed with the right weapon. Aided by her maid, Dorothy “Dot” Williams (Ashleigh Cummings), Phryne ventures from the city’s mansions to its brothels, gaining admirers and enemies along the way.
Assisting their investigations are Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt). Jack finds Phryne’s eager interest in his cases exasperating, but he comes to rely on her crime-solving instincts — and is increasingly captivated by her other charms. John Noble guest stars in this series of the hit Australian drama. Also available in a 3-Disc Blu-ray set.
BONUS FEATURES: Behind-the-scenes clips (30 min.); Season’s Greetings (4 min.), Series 2 promos (7 min.), and a photo gallery.
9. Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series
Released Dec. 9, 2014 — This set consists of 12 episodes, which aired from Aug. 23, 2014 to Nov. 8, 2014. This was the first full series to feature the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, who was joined by Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, his primary companion throughout the series. This was also the first series since Series 5 to be broadcast straight with no split halfway through it. Executive producer and showrunner Steven Moffat revealed that this will be the normal format for all future series.
10. Miss Marple: Volume 1
Released Oct. 28, 2014 — The four mysteries in this set have been completely remastered to high definition quality from the original film elements. Regarded by many fans as the definitive Miss Marple, Joan Hickson was one of the oldest actresses to take a lead role in a major television series when she was cast as Agatha Christie’s soft-spoken, sharp-eared sleuth at the age of 78 in 1984.
She retired eight years later, having completed 12 mysteries in the Miss Marple series, four of which are collected in this volume, including “The Murder at the Vicarage,” “The Body in the Library,” “The Moving Finger,” and “A Murder is Announced.”