The Corridor People (1966/British TV Series/Network U.K./PAL Region 2
C Sound: C Extras: C- Episodes: B
PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on
machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Two/2 PAL format
software and can be only be ordered from our friends at Network U.K. at the
website address provided at the end of the review.
When The Avengers was an international
phenomenon, the imitators were coming from every country and every
channel. To this day, literally hundreds
of series tried to imitate the show and just about all of them failed, but that
also made for some very interesting TV.
In Britain, several shows with lower budgets tried and though The Avengers had moved to 35mm film,
these shows were shooting on old analog videotape, so they knew they would not
get the wide (worldwide) distribution.
Maybe if they were hits, they’d move to film. The two best cases include Adam Adamant Lives! (reviewed elsewhere
on this site) and The Corridor People.
launched in 1966, but it was Granada
that launched Corridor People and
this was unusual because the company usually plays it safe and did little in
the way of such genre TV. In imitating The Avengers, most shows copied the
wit, dialogue and romantic whimsy, but few copied the eccentricity and bizarre
situations. Of all those imitators, Corridor People tried to answer the
show on every level and that was rare.
As a result, the show only lasted four episodes, but it moved into a
different direction than any of the others and that is why its arrival on DVD
is so significant.
by Edward Boyd (The XYY Man), the
show is now what we might term the most politically incorrect of all the
imitators, it had a continuing storyline despite a different case in each
episode and there was always one consistent villain in Syrie Van Epp. As played by Elizabeth Shepherd, she is a
luxurious, mysterious, wealthy, greedy, cold, vicious and unpredictable woman. A coup for the show, Shepherd was originally
hired to play Emma Peel on The Avengers,
but was replaced by Diana Rigg after filming in the middle of her second
episode was ended when producers thought she was not working in the role. As seen here, it is obvious she was just to
close to Rigg’s predecessor: Honor Blackman’s Cathy Gale.
episodes with key guest cast (including those who became more famous or moved
on to key shows like The Avengers)
Victim As Birdwatcher (Clive Morton, Geoffrey Reed,
Keith Pyott, Tim Barrett, June Watson)
Victim As Whitebait (Kevin Brennan, June Watson,
Patrick Kavanaugh, Ingrid Hafner, Robert McBain, George Ghent and Aubrey Morris)
Victim As Red (John Woodnut and Ivor Salter)
Victim As Black (Roger Hammond, Peter Stephens,
Peter Jesson, Mark Hardy and Pauline Collins)
actors are good, including the regulars.
This includes the great character actor John Sharp (Barry Lyndon, the original Wicker
Man, episodes of The Avengers
before and after this show) is Kronk, the head of Department K, the British
Ministry of Defence division (that is who The
Avengers work for too, generally speaking) that takes care of the most
serious business. Besides a secretary
and two rain-coated assistants named Inspector Blood (Alan Curtis) and Sergeant
Hound (William Maxwell) helping him, though they tend to be a little inept and
silly, but then so are so many people in this show. In between them is a gumshoe detective in the
1940s mode and quiet anachronistic named Phil Scrotty (Gary Cockrell from
Kubrick’s Lolita, The Americanization Of Emily) who is
out for himself.
result is an interesting mix of people and situations that may remind you of
Dennis Potter musicals (no musical moments, but some songs turn up in
interesting ways so music has a role in places) and there are no real action
sequences, though a few people kick, punch, karate chop or shoot each other,
but these are brief moments and sometimes comical. The early shows are a little colder and more
serious than the latter, which was a mistake and Shepherd’s Van Epp is not kept
as cold and mysterious as she should have been.
Shepherd more than holds her own and steals many scenes, which goes beyond the
role. She is a fine actress who could
have easily been on The Avengers as
a successful character other than Mrs. Peel and still works today in films like
Amelia with Hilary Swank and was one
of the victims in Damien: Omen II
(1978, reviewed elsewhere on this site) in a role people still talk about. An interesting role, Van Epp is one few
actresses then or now could have pulled off as convincingly as Shepherd does. She drives a Yellow Rolls-Royce like the one
the title villain has in Goldfinger
and in the last episode, am I seeing things or is that then-model George
Lazenby in an ad from a newspaper she is holding a few years before he becomes
also liked breaking the “fourth wall” (addressing the audience directly) and
that also got the better of it. However,
it does get more political than expected and this is beyond anything having to
do with The Cold War, which has surprisingly little bearing on the show and is
another reason it dates better than expected.
It is also so unique, ahead of its time and rich with the chemistry of
the actors cast that it is not remarkable, which is a very, very good
thing. Director David Boisseau (The Man In Room 17) also deserves
credit for making the show work as much as it did and the Jazz style the show
held onto was in the Honor Blackman/Avengers
mode making us consider how the show might have been to some extent if it took
its outrageous Mrs. Peel direction with Blackman remaining and was still a live
cleverly refers to the characters and how their world is either in the shadows
or restricted areas. If this had been a successful
hit, it could have been another Department
S or even something we had never seen before. They were off to an interesting start here
and that is why The Corridor People
is must-see cult TV.
X 1 image was shot in black and white analog PAL videotape (with very limited
16mm) and can be soft and limited in depth.
Flaws include staircasing, aliasing, some video noise, video banding,
some tape scratching, tape damage and even PAL cross color despite the fact
that these are all black and white. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is about a generation down throughout and can be
distorted, but it sounds better than these look, which is a plus. The only extra are stills, but some are in
color and show us how good the actors looked, plus some of the black and white
stills look better than the episodes.
above, you can order this DVD import exclusively from Network U.K. at:
- Nicholas Sheffo