Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by Ceri Laing

Director Alan Tarrant

StarringSid James, Victor Spinetti, Victor Platt, Bill Pertwee

Sid James as Sid Turner in the first season of "Two in Clover"

Victor Spinetti as Vic Evans in the second season of "Two in Clover"

Vic Evans (Victor Spinetti) steals Sid Turner's bath, in an early episode of "Two in Clover"


“I thought this was supposed to be the good life?”

So says Sid James to Victor Spinetti in the opening episode of this sitcom and indeed it is, only this was six years before the more successful BBC series. Whereas The Good Life had the considerable benefit of Felicity Kendall, and saw the husband and wife team give up the rat race and convert their Surbiton home into a (very) small holding, Two In Clover has the considerable benefit of Sid James, and saw two insurance office clerks, Sid Turner (James) and Vic Evans (Spinetti), give up the rat race, and buy Clover Farm, in the small village of Fletchley. The series was created by writers Harry Driver and Vince Powell for Thames, the ITV franchise holder in the London region from 1968 to 1992. It ran for two years - 1969 (7 episodes in black and white) and 1970 (6 episodes in colour) - and was produced and directed by the veteran Alan Tarrant. Driver and Powell had just completed working with James on the ATV sitcom George and the Dragon, and were keen to continue their partnership with him. After Two In Clover they would go on to create the far more successful vehicle for James: Bless this House

The adventures of Sid and Vic are based around the fish-out-of-water scenario of two city workers with no experience of rural life or running a farm. They have to learn how to milk the cows, get used to washing in a tin bath and come up against the wiliness of the locals. 

The series is a fairly standard affair with a lot of obvious comedy, and was only moderately successful, lasting just the two years. James’ previous series George and the Dragon ran for three years and Bless this House would eventually last seven. 

Two In Clover features a whole host of guest stars and recognisable faces, including three members of the Dad’s Army team: Bill Pertwee (who appears in several episodes as the village policeman,) John Le Mesurier and James Beck. Ironically, series one of Two In Clover was broadcast over the same period (March and April 1969) as the second series of Dad’s Army. Other notable guest cast members include Edwin Richfield, Gerald Flood, J.G. Devlin, Arthur Hewlett, Jack Woolgar, Hermione Baddeley, Garfield Morgan, John Savident, Charles Lloyd Pack, Graham Crowden and John Inman. Stock Welshman Richard Davies appears standing in for Spinetti, as Victor’s brother, David Llewellyn Evans, when Spinetti was unable to appear.

"Are You Being Served" star John Inman in the final episode of "Two in Clover".

"Dad's Army" star John Le Mesurier in the second episode of "Two in Clover".

The incomparable Graham Crowden, as a cricket-playing Vicar in the final episode of "Two in Clover".


This two-disc set from Network features all thirteen episodes. It seems that little or no restoration has taken place on them, but this seems fair enough, since Network hasn’t made any claims that they are. The episodes seem to be sourced from the PAL 625-line VT master tapes. The series followed the standard practice of the time, being a mixture of videotaped studio sessions and pre-recorded film sequences, transferred to tape during the studio recording. The episodes are presented in their original 4:3 black and white and colour formats, and are complete, featuring white cue dots (the ITV network signal for the approaching end of a part), captions on either side of the advert break (“ad-caps”) and the Thames logo’ idents at the beginning and end (in fact the episodes are presented in full with all the run in and out presumably present on the masters) which will keep fans of archive television happy – and it’s great to see the early Thames ident on the black and white episodes. Some of the episodes even feature their original countdown clocks, with the live studio audio (on one you can hear Sid jokingly ask if he’s got time for a drink!) 

Inevitably, the episodes do exhibit a number of faults. The black and white episodes fare the worst, with VT faults, such as Time Base Corrector errors and out-of-phase film sequences (due to poor transfer during the studio sessions). The opening pilot episode is especially bad for these sorts of faults and it also features the odd bit of drop out in one of the film sequences. Fortunately, the colour episodes are much better, with only the occasional very minor VT fault, but they still suffer from the same out-of-phase film sequences. Some seem rather dark as well, but this is inherent in how television production was at the time when picture quality wasn’t of paramount concern. All the episodes exhibit quite a bit of picture noise which is common to the 2-inch VT format the series was recorded on (though not as bad as the more convenient 1-inch format that followed it). One episode in particular, the one featuring Richard Davies, features a number of film sequences which seem to have been dropped in from multi-generation video, as the sequences are crawling with noise. 

Disc one contains approximately 175 minutes of material. Disc two contains about 150 minutes. The episodes seem to be encoded at an almost flat bitrate, a little over 5Mb/s.  

The sound quality is presented in the original 1.0 mono at 192kbps, and is generally fine with most dialogue and music clear and distinct. There are some instances where the performers move outside the effective range of the microphones, but these are fleeting. The only other fault I noticed was a brief drop out during the pilot episode.

The discs feature static menus: the series one disc uses appropriate black and white images with a touch of colour added; the series two discs feature colour images. The main menu features the theme music looped and options to play all or select an episode. From the select an episode menu you are presented with the chapter menu for each episode. The discs, unfortunately, do not feature any subtitles, so those who are deaf or hard of hearing will be disappointed.

One cock-up though is episodes three and four of the first series are transposed on disc one. The back and inside of the sleeve presents the episodes in the correct original running order, but they are mixed up (fortunately with their respective chapter menus) on the disc.

Here are examples of some of the faults found in the episodes. If you roll your mouse over the last image it will show an enlarged area, showing the underlying RF video noise (which manifests itself in blotches of colour that shouldn't be there) in this particular sequence.

Picture showing tape tracking fault.

Out-of-phase film insert (note the double-imaging on the hands), from "Two in Clover"




Network excels in bringing archive gems to the general public, which would otherwise lay unwatched in dusty vaults. Whilst not a classic series, Two In Clover is worthy of release and it’s great that Network have presented the series all in one go (select episodes have been previously made available as extras on some of Umbrella’s Australian Bless This House DVDs). Following their recent trend with releases, Network‘s presentation of the full and complete episodes is superb. Other companies would be getting out the scissors to remove idents and ad caps, and so Network is to be commended.

Network do spend a lot of time and money restoring material for some of their releases, and it would be great if they could it for all of them, but this wouldn’t be financially viable. Titles like Two In Clover have quite limited sales potential: it’s sales are never going to rival a more mainstream release, like the company’s The Sweeney box sets. However, I do feel their pricing structure is often disproportionate, taking into account the content of similar releases. The Two In Clover release, for example, has an RRP of £24.99, which is the same as their Sykes – The First Colour Series DVD. That release featured sixteen digitally-restored episodes (one of which was sourced from a black and white telerecording that has been through the VidFire process). Several episodes were presented in extended versions, along with outtakes, an Eric Sykes special and an newly filmed interview with Sykes. Which doesn’t really compare favourably with Two In Clover’s release of thirteen un-restored episodes, with no bonus materials at all. Unfortunately, the Two In Clover segment that was part of ITV’s All Star Comedy Carnival from 1969 is thought to be missing (though recent rumours suggest it might not be), so it couldn’t have been included in the release. A couple of commentaries or interviews with Victor Spinetti or writer Vince Powell, who are both still around could have be used to improve the release, and would have made its RRP more acceptable.

Network also needs to improve the packaging they use. Several of their other releases have been criticised for their packaging. They must realise that their releases are often bought from mail order companies, since the company doesn’t get wholehearted support by the high street chains. The boxes they use often arrive damaged, or the discs come loose in transit, which scratches the discs. This two-disc release has one disc on a very delicate central hinged holding unit, which was already broken and rattling about in the case when I received it.  

Overall though, these problems aside, Two in Clover is a good addition to Network’s catalogue, and they should be commended for releasing it at all. On the whole the series is enjoyable fun mainly due to Sid James, but he and Victor Spinetti do work well together. You can also play the perennially-favourite game of spot the guest actor. The theme music, however, is a Jack Parnell irritation, which unfortunately takes a little while to get out of your head. It’s also rather reminiscent of the theme to 1980s cartoon series Henry’s Cat! This DVD set will certainly interest fans of Sid James, as well as those interested in archive television generally, especially as it’s great to see original b&w VT material released which doesn’t happen very often.











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