Classic BBC sitcom, Love on a Branch Line, based on John Hadfield’s best-selling book, arrives on DVD courtesy of Second Sight next month.
Jasper Pye is a polite, honest civil servant who lives with his mother. One night when he hears his girlfriend Deirdre describe him as ‘a bore’ at a party, he decides he needs an urgent, radical change in his life. The following morning he heads into the ministry, determined to resign his job and move to Paris to become a painter. Instead he is dissuaded by his superior, who instead wants him to go to Arcady Hall in Suffolk where the Office of Output Statistics, a small government department has been working since 1940 when it was commandeered during the Battle of Britain and overlooked for closure for a number of years, despite its apparent lack of usefulness.
Initially reluctant to take the assignment the diffident Jasper is persuaded by his boss. He catches a train to Arcady, but finds that the branch line that runs there from the neighbouring town had closed four years before. He instead has to walk into the village. He arrives to find Arcady Hall a magnificent sight but seemingly far too large for the small department of three employees who work there. He quickly finds himself the talk of the town, as the ‘man from the ministry’ who cuts quite a dash. When he goes to meet the eccentric Lord Flamborough who, having lost both legs in a train accident whilst working as a driver during the 1926 General Strike, now lives on a steam train on a nearby private railway – the defunct branch line of the title. He appears content to have ceded the day-to-day running of the Hall to Professor Pollux, and having a passion for Trad Jazz; seems more interested in the fact that Jasper can allegedly dance the Charleston than remarking on any entanglements Pye may have with his daughters. Like everyone else in the village, he seems to take to Jasper, helping to persuade him to stay for the fete that Bank Holiday Monday.
He soon finds that the department’s two senior employees spend most of their time running the Hall and its history, the village and the local cricket team. Anything in fact, other than the jobs they are supposed to be doing. Jasper finds it very difficult to find out any information about the work of the department, due to a combination of their evasive responses and his own extracurricular activities, which draw him away from his task.
Jasper has become a regular fixture in the life of the village, despite having only been there for a few days. He undertakes a number of adventures such as painting a portrait of Belinda (her torso, naked), finding himself locked in the Hall dungeon/wine cellar with Lionel Virley, where they get completely inebriated, only to turn up late to the Arcady vs Flaxfield cricket match, where, while still drunk, score the winning runs, and actually rescue the game. The story ends with Jasper and Miss Mounsey embracing on the platform at Arcady station.
Desperate for a radical change and some excitement in his life, his chance arises when he is tasked with dismantling an old government research unit in the country. He soon finds himself seduced by life in the idyllic village in East Anglia and is beguiled by the charms of local eccentric Lord Flamborough and his three beautiful daughters.
Starring Michael Maloney, Maria Aitken and inimitable comedy favourite Leslie Phillips, this classic slice of comedy is set for release on DVD, on-demand and download as Love on a Branch Line The Complete Series on 17th July 2017.