HomeTVShoestring the Complete Series DVD review

Shoestring the Complete Series DVD review

ShoestringEddie Shoestring is an iconic character from the British television period of 1979/80. The part made Trevor Eve a star, and the titular series Shoestring was a hit with the viewing public. This DVD collection brings together all twenty-one episodes from the two seasons that were made.

Shoestring is a private detective who sources his clients in a unique way – by hosting his own show on Radio West, where listeners can bring him their problems. The show is set in Bristol, and extensive use is made of the city, with the majority of filming taking place on location in the centre and in surrounding areas.

The show is made with some artistry. Shot on film, it looks good, and there were plenty of talented people involved both in front of and behind the camera. With many scenes set at a radio station, or with people listening to Shoestring’s show on their wireless sets, it also boasts a fine soundtrack of hits from the late 1970s and 1980. Blondie, Pink Floyd and many others remind viewers how much better popular music was back then compared to now. Securing the licence to use the original music is apparently why this much-loved show has never been released in its entirety before.

Trevor Eve makes the most of the character, turning Shoestring into a scruff who prefers a dishevelled combination of corduroy trousers and tweed jackets to keeping up with the latest fashions, and the melancholic theme tune suitably sets the tone. He is terrific in the part though, and his perpetually heavy eyes, which always make him look like he needs a good night’s sleep, do plenty of work.

The show had a fairly adaptable format, so storylines vary between Shoestring’s investigation of serious crimes through to bungled burglaries and regular mysteries. The opening episode finds Shoestring, recovering from a nervous breakdown, investigating the apparent suicide of a prostitute (played by Stacy Dorning from Keep It In The Family). Fingers point to an egocentric radio presenter (played by original Doctor Who companion William Russell), before Shoestring connects the dots. Another episode, with a surprisingly ethnically diverse cast for 1979, sees Shoestring investigate the culprit behind a hit and run, which uncovers a knock-off antique furniture racket (a prototype Lovejoy?). A Christmas special sees potentially lethal children’s toys sold in Bristol. Can Shoestring track down every one before presents are opened on Christmas morning?

The series has a talented production team. Writers Robert Banks Stewart and Richard Harris (no, not that one) created the show, and Banks, sometimes under a pseudonym, supplies many scripts. Douglas Camfield (Doctor Who) directs a few episodes, whilst one instalment of the second season (The Teddy Bears’ Nightmare) is directed by Martin Campbell (Edge of Darkness, Casino Royale).

As a big budget show for prime time television, Shoestring attracted terrific guest actors too. Individual episodes features names such as Harry H. Corbett, Diana Dors, Michael Elphick, Celia Imrie, Michael Craig and many others.

Shoestring is the sort of series that may have run and run on British TV. However, Trevor Eve didn’t want to be saddled with the same part and become typecast, so he moved on. But the BBC didn’t want to lose their hit show, so the commissioned the production team to come up with a replacement, using similar ingredients to Shoestring to recreate the magic. The result was Bergerac, starring John Nettles, which swapped Bristol for Jersey and was an even bigger hit…

This six-disc release of Shoestring comes with extensive sleeve notes, but features no extras on the discs.

Cast: Trevor Eve, Michael Medwin, Liz Crowther, Doran Godwin, Harry H. Corbett, Michael Elphick, William Russell Certificate: 12 Duration: 1083 mins Released By: Network Release Date: 16th October 2017

Greg Jameson
Greg Jameson
Book editor, with an interest in cult TV.

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