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    The New Statesman - The Complete 1st Series

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 172 mins . M15+ . PAL


    The New Statesman is a British series that satires the British Government, much in the same way Yes Minister did. Starring Rik Mayall (The Young Ones, Bottom) as the Conservative representative Alan B'Stard, a newly elected back bencher in the House of Commons, this shows politicians at their worst. Filmed in 1987, the references to current affairs of the time are prominant, but irrespective of this, the lead character B'Stard is ageless.

    Alan B'Stard is a self centred, egotistical politician with only one aim in life, to further his career. He doesn't care who he steps on along the way and uses everyone and everything he needs to. Rik Mayall plays this slimy character with disturbing accuracy. He is ably assisted by a transgender accountant and not so ably by some bumbling fellow politicians of the Conservative persuasion.

    "I am Alan B'Stard and I have the largest majority in the House of Commons!"

    Contained on this release is the first series of seven episodes. Each episode runs for just under 25 minutes and they are best viewed separately rather than in a marathon sitting.

    Happiness Is A Warm Gun
    Under dubious circumstances Alan B'Stard has been elected to the House of Commons. The Chief Constable is aware of these dubious circumstances and persuades B'Stard to push through a bill to allow the police to carry guns.

    Passport To Freedom
    B'Stard is set to attend a conference in Europe, but is unable to leave England due to him forgetting his passport. His wife inherits a million pounds worth of shares in the Ocelot Car Company and with this newfound wealth decides she can finally divorce B'Stard. In order to stop this occurring, B'Stard sees the only option is to make the shares worthless.

    Sex Is Wrong
    Prior to attending the Conservative Party Conference, B'Stard is visited by a woman who mistakes him for another politician - one that cares. This woman is looking for help to publish her book Sex is Wrong, which looks at how nobody should be having sex, except for those intending to procreate. B'Stard sees this as an opportunity to make some quick cash and agrees to help her and in the process promote the book at the conference.

    Waste Not Want Not
    B'Stard learns that some toxic waste he had stored near a school is about to be discovered. It had been dumped there simply because B'Stard had been paid a hefty sum of money to make it disappear. He desperately needs somewhere else to store the waste and finds out there is an old abandoned mine in his constituency. The one problem is that his father-in-law owns the mine.

    Friends Of St. James
    B'Stard is the guest of honour at a school and bumps into an old school chum. This friend is now the President of St James, an island in the Caribbean and is looking for assistance in exporting locally made cigarettes. He also lets it slip that the island has no banks as yet and B'Stard sees a money making opportunity. His idea is to form a bank, get some "not so honest" people to bank all their money there and then fold the bank, keeping all the cash for himself - the perfect plan it would seem.

    Three Line Whipping
    B'Stard is in a house of ill repute when the police raid the place. After the upheaval, he realises he is late for a scheduled appearance on breakfast television and races off. The topic of the television appearance is related to a by-election, the talk of the country. The minor detail is that B'Stard has no idea of the result, due to him being preoccupied the night before. The other minor detail is that he neglected to pay the taxi driver who is now chasing him for his due fare.

    Baa Baa Black Sheep
    Due to pressure from his father in law, B'Stard has to do something for his constituency - something he has not done much of in the past. He learns that an American fast food chain is looking to build a processing plant and sees it as a great way to win popularity. He has some stiff competition in winning the trust of the Americans, but will go to all lengths to achieve his aim.

    This series is very English, along the same lines as Yes Minister, and is filled with political references. Rik Mayall is perfect as Alan B'Stard and pretty much carries the show on his own. Fans that love The Young Ones and Bottom should enjoy this series, but don't expect characters in the same vein as those series', as B'Stard is very different. Fans of British comedy in general should enjoy this, even though the English references are there in abundance, it is still easy to watch.


    Being an older television series, this is presented in full frame and therefore not 16x9 enhanced. Sharpness is generally not too bad, but is by no means the best it could have been. There is quite a lot of grain visible, especially on outdoor location scenes. Colours are reasonable and true and blacks are acceptable. Film artefacts are very noticeable during outdoor location scenes as it appears these are filmed on 16mm film whereas the studio scenes appear to be video. These artefacts are in the form of white flecks mostly and although distracting, they are not too intrusive. Aliasing is not really an issue, although the layer change occurs at 86:05 mid scene and it is quite invasive. There are no subtitles supplied, but they are not really needed as dialogue is clear at all times.


    Audio supplied is Dolby Digital 2.0 and it's quite sufficient. Dialogue is clear for the most part and there are no problems with synch. Sound is generally crisp, although it does seem a little quiet. The surrounds are not called into action but are not missed too much due to the nature of this show.


    Not a thing in the way of extras, just the obligatory scene selection. Woohoo!


    Much in the same vein as Yes, Minister, but with an even nastier and more scheming lead character, this is a very funny series. The transfers are more than adequate, although they do date it a little, but they take nothing away from the feel of the show. Due to the current events of the time covered in the series such as Thatcherism and Ronald Reagan, the series sort of dates itself. Fans of The Young Ones or even Bottom should not expect the standard Rik Mayall from this series as he plays a character extremely different from those in the past. Fans of British comedy series should enjoy this, although I would recommend watching one or two episodes at a time to break it up a bit, even Fawlty Towers is a struggle to watch all at once.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1770
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      And I quote...
    "A great comedy series of seven episodes that takes a look at the British Government, with Rik Mayall at his brrrrrilliant best as dodgy politician Alan B'Stard! "
    - Adrian Turvey
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