Top TV shows that represent the best of Britain's output over the last 50 years available on DVD

Armchair Theatre DVD

Armchair Theatre was ITV’s flagship drama anthology series. Initially screened between 1956 and 1973, it was hugely popular, with viewing figures occasionally reaching twenty million, and became a byword for quality in televised drama. Pioneering, immensely influential and sometimes challenging in its content, the series consistently drew upon a wide range of talent.

Armchair Theatre became a showcase for the post-war generation of British writers who sought to place sensitive social topics - in particular the British class system - under the microscope. Throughout, the series featured a number of powerful, award-winning plays, and its lasting influence was a testament to producer Sydney Newman’s passionate belief in television’s potential to bring high-quality drama to the viewing public.

This collection brings together eight plays, broadcast between 1970 and 1973. Featuring scripts by Colin Welland (his BAFTA-winning Say Goodnight to Your Grandma), Ian Kennedy-Martin, Fay Weldon (as Laurence Wells), Roy Clarke and Brendan Behan’s brother Dominic, the plays feature key performances from accomplished television actors including Tom Bell, Billie Whitelaw, Richard Beckinsale, Peter Barkworth, Rita Tushingham and Beryl Reid.

Armchair Theatre - Volume 1 [DVD]  Armchair Theatre - Volume 3 [DVD] Armchair Theatre - Volume 4 [DVD]

Morecambe and Wise DVD

Morecambe and Wise are the greatest comedy double act ever to grace our TV screens. The fabulous mixture of sketches, musical numbers, insights into their ‘home’ life’ and the play's 'wot Ernie wrote' brought them audiences in the millions. On stage they were living legends with Eric’s raised eyebrows, Des O’Connor jibes and cheeky catchphrases putting every audience in the palm of their hands. And, of course, the stars – from Shirley Bassey and Elton John to Laurence Olivier and Glenda Jackson – lined up to join in the fun.
 
This complete series includes nine series and five Christmas Specials and features every memorable moment of Eric and Ernie’s BBC career including the legendary Singin’ in the Rain, the famous André Previn appearances and the acclaimed Breakfast Stripper sketch – as well as every shoulder-and-cheek slap, Luton Town reference and “Not Now Arthur!” in between.

Morecambe & Wise - Complete BBC Collection [DVD] [1968]

Upstairs Downstairs DVD

Upstairs Downstairs takes place in 165 Eaton Place from the turn of the century through the Great War and into the Roaring Twenties. It concerns the Bellamy family: politician Richard Bellamy his wives Marjorie and Virginia, wastrel son James, wayward daughter Elizabeth and his flighty ward, Georgina Worsley. The house domestics are led by Hudson the Butler, a conservative Scot who must contend with the ‘below stairs’ behaviour of the household staff, including cook Mrs Bridges and maids Rose and Sarah.
 
A spectacular critical and ratings success when first transmitted on ITV, Upstairs Downstairs still maintains its position as one of the major success stories of British television worldwide. Multi award-winning (including ones from BAFTA, the Writers Guild, the Royal Television Society, Emmies and Golden Globes) the series stars Jean Marsh, Gordon Jackson, Angela Baddeley, Pauline Collins and Lesley-Anne Down.
 
This boxset contains all 68 episodes from the five series of Upstairs Downstairs, originally transmitted between 1971 and 1975.

Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete Series [DVD] [1971]

Timeslip DVD

Three children have vanished from the tiny Midlands village of St Oswald. First to disappear is local girl Sarah, then Simon Randall and Liz Skinner, who are on holiday with Liz's parents. Only Commander Traynor, an apparent stranger to the area, can offer some idea of where they are – and that idea is so incredible and horrifying that the Skinners cannot believe it...
 
This groundbreaking ATV children's drama memorably blends hard science and fantasy in its tale of two teenagers who discover the existence of a 'time barrier' enabling them to travel to different periods and locations – from World War Two to chilling visions of the future.
 
Devised by Ruth Boswell – who would go on to produce both The Tomorrow People and Shadows – Timeslip was unabashedly intelligent and often prescient in its theme of the use and abuse of science. Well remembered to this day as a benchmark of 1970s telefantasy, this set contains all 26 episodes alongside a wealth of special features.

Timeslip: The Complete Series [DVD]

Corrie DVD

Voted ITV’s Greatest Programme in a national poll and described as “the most successful programme in television history”, this collection of eighty episodes of Coronation Street represents the cream of this acclaimed TV drama. You can now relive the trials, tribulations, joy and jubilation as encountered by the folk of
Manchester’s Coronation Street in the UK’s most compelling soap – a show that has become a national treasure and which will forever have a place in our hearts.
 
 
With many episodes from this celebrated and award-winning series not seen since their original broadcast, this is an opportunity to revisit old friends and relive some of the key moments and dramatic storylines, including: Dennis Tanner’s arrest - The infamous bar brawl between Ken and Len Fairclough - Sheila’s attempted suicide - Florrie’s shop rage - The terrifying train crash - And much more.

Coronation Street - Best of 1960 - 1969 - [ITV] - [Network] - [DVD] Callan - The Colour Years [DVD] [1970]

Callan DVD

Edward Woodward gives an electrifying performance as a reluctant professional killer working for British Intelligence. Callan became a national phenomenon in the late 1960s, making Woodward one of the highest profi le actors on television and paving the way to his eventual career in America on shows like The Equalizer.
 
Created by James Mitchell (When the Boat Comes In) and exploring the dingy, twilight world of the professional spy, Callan was the antithesis of the James Bond films (back in the days of Connery and Moore) and presented what was, until that point, television’s most realistic portrayal of government espionage.
 
There are two sets available - The Monochrome Years and The Colour Years (pictured above).

Callan - The Monochrome Years [DVD] [1967] Callan - The Colour Years [DVD] [1970]