GEORGE AND THE DRAGON

Region 2 Edition

Director:  Shaun O'Riordan 

Featuring:  Sid James, Peggy Mount, John Le Mesurier, Keith Marsh

THE SERIES

George and the Dragon is a sitcom that was made by ATV and originally broadcast between 19th November 1966 and 31st October 1968. It ran for four series in total, and was made (unsurprisingly for the time) in black & white.

There are only four main characters: George Russell (Sid James), Gabrielle Dragon (Peggy Mount), Colonel Maynard (John Le Mesurier) and Ralph the gardener (Keith Marsh).

The show is set in Southern England, at the house of an eccentric retired Colonel (John Le Mesurier), with Ralph (Keith Marsh) as the scatty-brained gardener and George (Sid James) as the Colonelís chauffeur / general dogsbody.

The first episode sets up the characters and situation, and implies the household has difficulty in keeping the employ of a housekeeper due to the lecherous advances of George (a typical Sid James casting). A chance encounter with Gabrielle Dragon (Peggy Mount) introduces her to the vacancy, and there you have the four core characters.

The premise of the show from that point onwards is the conflict between the two major players (Sid and Peggy).

The writing talents of Vince Powell and Harry Driver (who subsequently went on to pen Two in Clover also staring Sid James) is sharp and doesnít lose focus on the direction on where the show is heading, which leads to a uniform quality of episodes throughout the four series produced.

The strength of this delightful comedy undoubtedly draws greatly from the relationship between George and Gabrielle. Both characters are strong, and are played very much as you would expect them to be. Sid for example could very much have just stepped from the set of Hancockís Half Hour. You feel comfortable with the two characters in the situations the writers create around them, the mark of a good sitcom.

John Le Mesurier has more to do in the second half of the series than the first, but is beautifully cast, again very much playing himself as do Sid and Peggy, and many of his mannerisms are instantly recognisable in the role he went on to play in Dadís Army.

Keith Marsh in the part of dippy Ralph is more of a support for the main two characters, but works well within the storylines provided for him.

Brian Wilde, Yootha Joyce, John Junkin and Geoffrey Palmer are among those welcome well-known faces that pop up in small incidental roles throughout the series. Thereís also a brief appearance by Tom Baker, in whatís believed to be his earliest surviving TV role.

THE DVD

There are four DVD-9 discs in the set, each containing one series a piece. The picture is presented in the original 4:3 ratio and the sound is mono. There are no subtitles for the hard of hearing, and the entire set is Region 0 PAL.

The bit-rate varies between 4.7 and 6.5Mbps.

For an un-restored recording nearly forty years old, the quality of the picture is surprisingly good, albeit slightly rough around the edges during the first series.

There are no extras, other than a group of photographs presented as a slideshow on Disc Four.

All the ATV London start / end caps are present, along with the ad caps.

SUMMARY

Sid James was known to have suffered a heart attack midway through the making of this series, but looks well throughout, and his performance will not disappoint fans watching this little gem for the first time.

The casting of Peggy Mount alongside Sid was an inspired move, and turns what could have been an amusing little sit-com into a genuinely funny one.

I had only ever seen one episode some years ago before getting my hands on this boxset, so I had no preconceptions as to how good or bad the series was until I actually watched it. And my conclusion? Absolutely superb!

Network should be roundly applauded for releasing this wonderful little comedy. I believe it will appeal to both fans of Sid James / Peggy Mount / John Le Mesurier and those who are attracted to quality older television on DVD.

I was left at the end with the regret that ATV didnít make more than just four series. I enjoyed it that much (more than I genuinely expected to).

I can heartily recommend this excellent release to everyone. Itís currently available (at the time of writing Ė December 2004) through Choices Direct as an exclusive, but will be sold by all the usual retailers in early 2005. Beg, borrow or steal a copy if you can. You wonít be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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