One Foot in the Grave Series Three and Christmas Special

Starring: Richard Wilson and Annette Crosbie
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: PG
Available 08 August 2005

Who thought retirement could be so chaotic? Certainly not cantankerous Victor Meldrew and his long-suffering wife Margaret. But there's one thing to remember in the Meldrew household - whatever can go wrong always does...

I have to admit to being a little bias in my review. I've been waiting ages for these classic episode to be released on DVD, having bought the video releases years ago. For value for money this collection can't be beat - it is cheaper than the video release was and you get the Christmas Special as an extra treat. But, I would have gladly bought this collection for more money if someone had thought to add some extra value content. While there is an audio commentary with Richard Wilson and the writer David Renwick on The Beast in the Cage, that's your lot as far as extras go. And, as the second disc in this collection only contains the Christmas Special (which I suppose is technically an extra), it's not as though there wasn't any room for more features.

A word of advice, watch the Christmas Special first, as chronologically it was the first episode to air. It also helps if you've recently watched Series 2, as there are a couple of gags that are reliant on you remembering that the Meldrews had several hundred garden gnomes stored in their house and that Victor and Margaret's first (or technically second) meeting with their neighbours Patrick and Pippa resulted in some confusion in which the Meldrews thought they were relatives who had driven over to see them. It was only when they insisted that they stay in their bed for the evening that Patrick pointed out they'd much rather sleep next door in their own bed.

The Beast in the Cage, which also has this collections only additional audio commentary, is one of the third series' funniest episodes. It's also the oddest, being set entirely in the Meldrews car while they are stuck in a traffic jam.

Other highlights in this series include the Meldrews taking out Mrs Warboys's relative to the theatre - only to discover that they've taken a complete stranger; Victor constructing a new teddy, for a christening present, out of bits from old stuffed bears - the result being a creation that Frankenstein would be proud of; Victor having to check his Chinese takeaway for rats; and when Margaret vanishes off the face of the earth and her coat is discovered in a local lake, everyone fears the worse.

The Christmas Special (which I haven't seen since it was originally broadcast) stars Monty Python's Eric Idol as a council official. It also has one of the best running gags in this collection, as Victor mistakenly believes that Mr Swainey has entrusted him to look after his mother's ashes. The Urn, he so lovingly attempts to keep safe, is in fact a new tea urn that Margaret has been given by Pippa. And when he drops the contents all over the living room carpet he spends ages trying to replace them by burning toilet rolls in the back garden and then tipping the charred remains into the urn.

Another cracking collection of classic comedy.

Darren Rea

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