STRANGE WORLD OF GURNEY SLADE
DVD region 2. Network.
wonderful to be out of my mind again.”
We first meet Gurney Slade (Anthony Newley) as he walks out of
the bland sitcom that he is a character in and out into a world
where flights of fancy, musings on life and surreal imaginings
collide – talking dogs, advertising posters that come to
life, imaginary figures who come back to demand a fuller existence
and digs at the artifice of TV all mix with Gurney’s internal
monologues as he ponders the mysteries of life. Very little actually
happens as the episodes go nowhere, but the trip is a thoroughly
It’s no surprise that this delightful TV show bombed in
1960 and has scarcely been seen since. It was years ahead of its
time with its offbeat humour and general strangeness. At times,
it resembles some archetypal British Sixties comedy – Morgan:
A Suitable Case for Treatment, Billy Liar,
The Knack, even A Hard Day’s Night
– yet the show preceded all of them by a few years. Comparisons
have also been made to The Prisoner, interestingly,
and there is a certain similarity in the bizarre courtroom episodes
of both series. Notably, here Gurney is on trial for making a
comedy show that is clever instead of funny – a nice self
referential moment that carries on to the final episode, which
is all about being the final episode, making verbal asides about
how unsuccessful the show had been.
Newley (who created the show alongside writers Sid Green and Dick
Hills) is excellent as Gurney, a wandering, pondering misfit in
a world of absurdity, and the theme tune – an instantly
recognisable piece even if you’ve never seen the show –
sets the scene for six seemingly unconnected episodes of eccentric
fantasy and whimsy.
The amusement spreads to the promo clips that are included here
– mocking the lack of success for the show and blurring
the line between fiction and reality, I imagine they would have
bewildered viewers even more than the actual show.
The world featured in this show is indeed a strange one –
gloriously so. You really owe it to yourself to pay it a visit.
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