Slightly off-topic—the sort of post you might see on my casual, throwaway-line blog over at Vox. But it is connected to some of my regular topics such as intellectual property and business.
One of my favourite TV series of all time is The Paradise Club, created by the late Murray Smith. While it’s no secret I like the humour of The Persuaders (which in part inspired the name of this blog) and the black-and-white storylines of Return of the Saint, in the post-Professionals era, only one British action–drama had all the right ingredients.
The Paradise Club hit the right buttons: the 20 episodes had high-quality, consistent scripts; they were ﬁlmed beautifully; and the interplay between the late Don Henderson and Leslie Grantham as two very unlikely brothers was brilliant.
But if you go on YouTube, there is only one complete episode (‘Rock and Roll Roulette’), a clip from another (I believe it’s from ‘The Great Fly-Tipping War’), and a clip from a Detectives parody guest-starring Grantham and co-star Leon Herbert.
It’s as though in the Web 2·0 era, The Paradise Club has ceased to exist. There are few references to it—about the most detailed (other than the IMDB listing) is on Leslie Grantham’s ofﬁcial site, almost as a CV entry. Murray Smith’s name can be found, but there’s no record online of his birth name any more (Murray-Smith was actually his surname). There is, shockingly, no DVD for the series. It’s arguably Britain’s most overlooked TV series considering the audience numbers it generated.
People refer to the series as a ‘cult’ one, but it was very popular in 1989–90, and two series were commissioned from Zenith Productions, the people who made Inspector Morse.
Last week I tracked down The Paradise Club’s script editor, Philip Palmer, who has gone on to become a successful novelist, penning Debatable Space. This science ﬁction book has had some great reviews from other writers as well as the British broadsheets. A second book, Red Claw, is due October 2009.
I asked him if he knew why The Paradise Club had never made it to DVD, and he kindly responded (the italics are mine):
I’ve spoken to Archie Tait, who was the executive producer and one of the originators of the show (with the late lamented Murray Smith.) He tells me there are two reasons the DVDs aren’t available. Firstly Zenith, who own the show, have gone bankrupt. Secondly, there’s a lot of original music on the soundtrack which makes it difﬁcult to release, because of the rights situation. (A Sade song is a particular problem.) For exactly this reason the hugely popular ITV series Heartbeat (of which Archie produced 100 eps) isn’t available on DVD—because it features a lot of great 60s songs and ITV don’t own international rights to them.
Philip regards the situation as ‘Crazy,’ and I agree with him.
If you are a fan, then there is some potential good news:
Your query has prompted Archie to start chasing up the rights of Paradise Club. It’s such a waste of all that material! And, as your email shows, there’s still a real interest in the series.
Any one of us who has had to draft or review a contract in the media business knows how tough it is to predict technologies, so I can fully understand the difﬁculties that Philip writes of. The same situation held back the release of Moonlighting on DVD, something that creator Glenn Caron had to remedy as he wasn’t prepared to release his series with anything but the originally chosen songs.
There is no real solution to prevent a repeat if yet another new medium comes our way. You don’t want contracts that are so loose as to leave one without protection (and a challenger says, ‘That was not envisaged at the time of drafting’); yet you don’t want ones that are too tight that adaptations are discouraged.
But on the main topic itself, I hope Archie Tait ﬁnds success with his efforts—may the stars align for that! I believe there’s huge interest in The Paradise Club, especially considering its age, and there have been calls for a DVD version of the two series for quite some time. If the material can generate extra income for the team that put it together, and for the families of Murray Smith and Don Henderson, then all the better—they deserve it. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:00
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