ABC Nights In: Set Your Minds Free – DVD Review

ABC Nights In Set Your Minds Free – DVD Review

By Roger Crow

The joy of ABC Nights In is the fact the two-disc set feature a telly channel-style format, so you can pop a disc in and watch a few eps of vintage TV programmes, complete with adverts, and commentary from David Hamilton inbetween the offerings.

There are so many references to Uranus in ‘Space Patrol – The Invisible Invasion’, an episode of the Gerry Anderson series from 1964, it feels like the show-makers were seeing how many times they could use the same schoolboy gag.

“So I did see a light on Uranus after all?” asks one character.

“You did. And I hope you never see it again,” replies his colleague.


ABC Nights In Set Your Minds Free – DVD Review coverThis monochrome classic from the age before Thunderbirds involves plant-like aliens attempting to take over the world. There’s also a talking emu, minus Rod Hull, and wafting dandelion-like creatures which seemed to pre-empt Captain Scarlet’s Mysteron torch beams. The cityscape models are quite charming, as are the characters.

A short and sweet burst of Here’s David Nixon from 1963 is a reminder of how amiable the TV magic man was.

‘Oh Boy’ (1959) is a quick fire selection of hits from famous and not so famous stars of the era.

An ep of ‘The Blackpool Show’ (1966) boasts a terrific set from an over-excited Bob Monkhouse, whose series of one-liners about James Bond movies are second to none. Witnessing comedy legend Freddie ‘Parrotface’ Davies is also a treat, not least because I drop him a line later to let him know.

Great to see the legendary Tony Hancock as compere too. His typical downbeat style at odds with the usual high energy MC format of today, and yet still brilliant, like he’s barely changed gears from classic Hancock Half Hour eps like 1958’s ‘Sunday Afternoon at Home’ (which is aptly when I watch the first disc).

Tragic to think that within a few years he would take his own life in Australia.

Among the nostalgic ads are one for Bird’s Eye Rissoles, which used to be a favourite in the 1970s, but then seemed to drop off many culinary radars.

Disc two features another selection of vintage gems and curios. The French resistance is the focus of Sword in the Web, an earnest drama which could have done with a few of the laughs from Allo Allo, a series it’s inevitably compared with by MC Hamilton.

ABC Nights In Set Your Minds Free – DVD Review david nixon

Magician, David Nixon

“Fascinating glimpse”

There are a couple of Candid Camera offerings too, including one bloke who eventually sees the funny side after a prankster offers him a hand to shake… and waits about a minute before he reciprocates. Not awkward at all.

Arguably the best section of disc two is The Peggy Lee Show. She’s glacially cool, and yes, she does the classic ‘Fever’, as well as enduring a comedy sketch with a London cabbie and his mate (who looks like Christian Bale in The Prestige).

Things are wrapped up with Redcap, another earnest drama, this time starring a fresh-faced John Thaw, years before becoming a TV legend in The Sweeney. That ran from 1964 to 1966 in case you’re wondering. Oh, you weren’t.

Telly addicts will no doubt get a kick out of this collection of goodies which obviously vary in quality, but are still a fascinating glimpse of the 1950s and 1960s.

Picture Quality6
Nostalgia Factor9
The ABC Nights In series is released on DVD by



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