Does anyone remember seeing this? Flickers (“A Kinematographic Comedy in Six Parts”) was a 1980 UK television series set in the early days of the silent film business in Britain, produced by Thames and directed by Cyril Coke.

It was written by Roy Clarke (as in Last of the Summer Wine and Keeping up Appearances) and starred Bob Hoskins and Frances de la Tour. It received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Limited Series in 1982. Now it is to be released on DVD (from 7 June) by Network, a two-disc set lasting 300mins. This is the company blurb on the background story:

Forty-year-old Arnie Cole is a movie pioneer, showing films in makeshift cinemas during the first quarter of the twentieth century – a long way ahead of the golden age that will be more glittering than his wildest dreams. But opportunities are opening up all the time, and Arnie’s true ambition is to produce films of his own. Financial backing is, inevitably, the stumbling block. But it comes his way in unexpected form when he is introduced to Maud, the snobbish, rather plain sister of a well-to-do acquaintance; at first, Maud finds Arnie brash and vulgar, and he is equally unimpressed with her – but having discovered that she is pregnant, she makes him an offer that he finds hard to refuse…

I don’t remember seeing it at the time – in 1980 I was at university, barely watched TV, and had no thought for silent films or their social history. It sounds like a soft-edged version of Pennies from Heaven without the songs. The New York Times called it “marvellously wacky”, adding:

one of the daffiest and most hilarious original screenplays written for television. As Arnie and Maud stagger through their unusual relationship, ”Flickers” provides representative samplings of types involved in the motion picture business, from short and alcoholic comedian stars to corrupt lawyers, from aging child stars to lazy cameramen.

I’m intrigued. Anyone out there with long memories?