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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Manageress
The Complete First Series


Starring: Cherie Lunghi, Warren Clarke and Tom Georgeson
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 21 June 2010

In 1989, a TV drama series hit the screens that rocked the world of football. Cherie Lunghi stars as Gabriella Benson, a woman executive raised on football by an often absent father. When her mother dies, he reaches out to her - by cutting a deal with the faltering Blackburn Rovers to have her replace their current corrupt manager, making her the first ever female manager of a football team. Nudity in the locker room is the least of her worries as she comes up against fierce resistance from the team and their trainer up-front, and the constant risk of Boardroom backstabbing from behind. But with astute business skills and a keen eye for the game she has loved all her life, Gabrielle Benson is about to show her team and the world that she’s got what it takes to be the manageress...

The Manageress: The Complete First Series collects the show's first six episodes. The show only ran for two years, which is a shame, as it allowed the programme's writers to explore a number of issues that lay at the heart of football (or at least they did in the '80s).

The series follows Gabriella Benson who is half-English / half-Italian, whose never really seen eye-to-eye with her Italian father. In fact the only passion they both shared was their love of football. He seems desperate to make amends for past mistakes, and ends up doing a behind the scenes deal that allows his daughter to become the manageress of a team that's been neglected. Obviously, at first, no one thinks she can pull it off, but eventually she wins the hearts of all involved.

British football was always seen, and still is to some extent, as a working class white man's sport. The series tackles (if you'll excuse the pun) sexism, class divide and racism without really forcing it down the viewers throat. Although, having said that, I noticed that the racism episode featured two black actors who never appeared before or after that episode - which is a real shame - and also illustrates how racist our programming was back then; just bring out the black actors when we've got a piece on racism to cover.

The only extra is a collection of text based filmographies for the main cast.

Notable guest stars who pop up briefly include Michael Stainton (who is best remembered for playing the father on Metal Mickey) and Paul Bradley (who played Nigel Bates on Eastenders and Chen on Red Dwarf)

While there are no extras and the picture quality is pretty poor (it's such a shame that the film wasn't given a bit of a clean), this is still a series worth collecting on DVD - even if you don't remember it from the '80s.


Darren Rea

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