THE RETURN OF 'NUMBER 96'
They tried to stop me! They even sent Tracey Wilson after me! But I'll say it anyway...:
Australia's cult TV soap classic of the 70s is back: coming to a boxed DVD set near you... in September 2008.
(Okay, I'm joking about them trying to stop me: I just received the official go-ahead from Andrew Mercado to announce, exclusively, that a deal has at last been cut to bring the saga of the complete Pantyhose Murders storyline of "Number 96" to DVD.)
The DVD set will comprise 32 episodes on four discs - starts with Episode #649 (originally aired 4/11/1974) and finishes with #680 (original airdate 27/01/1975). There will also be a stills gallery (to which I have contributed), a new commentary and even the Network Ten News report (10/07/06) of the first "Number 96" DVD release. Cue the cheering!
In 2006, Umbrella Entertainment released a great salute to "Number 96", a two-disc collectors' edition of "Number 96: The Movie" and "And They Said it Wouldn't Last" (the documentary celebrating the first 1000 episodes of the TV series, including missing archive footage of the cast at Luna Park), and "The Final Years", a new featurette made for the DVD.
But you wanted more! So here it is!
While it would be great to start commercial releases of the TV episodes of "Number 96" from the very beginning, the sad fact is that many early black-and-white episodes no longer exist. The first few episodes were well-preserved but there's one eighteen-month-long chunk of TV history that crumbled to dust in the early 80s. Sadly, that missing footage includes the infamous, highly-controversial Black Mass. Then there's a lone episode (#450) and another long run of missing stuff.
It was also thought that a boxed DVD set could start from #585, the first colour episode, but that's rather tame compared to "Number 96" at - arguably - its creative and comical peak: the Pantyhose Murders! We commence our DVD tour after it is realised that the body of a blonde woman - found strangled with pantyhose in Chestnut Lane, Paddington - was not, as everyone feared, Marilyn MacDonald. The storyline weaves its way through the shocking deaths, and near-deaths, of several long-time residents of 96 Lindsay Street, thus putting most of the other residents under suspicion, including two mysterious young beaus, Michael Bartlett (Peter Flett) and Matt Barrington (John Paramor). Not to mention the nasty Peter Wilson (Dennis Miller), the cruel, estranged husband of Nurse Tracey Wilson (Chantal Contouri)!
In September, you'll be reacquainted with ditzy Lorelei Wilkinson (Josephine Knur), the equally ditzy Marilyn McDonald (Frances Hargreaves), and the wonderfully whiny Patti Feather (Pamela Garrick), new wife of Arnold (Jeff Kevin). Interspersed with the action on the killing fields is the sad (temporary?) departures of the beloved Goldolfuses, the arrival of a new deli owner, Freda Fuller (Sheila Bradley), and some wonderful Aussie comedy relief, as only vintage "Number 96" could showcase: wacky Les Whittaker's strangler-capture devices; wacky Mummy MacDonald's false boobies as she struggles to tend bar downstairs at Norma's; and Dorrie Evans' equally-wacky turn as a brunette (in order to avoid being the next blonde victim of the Strangler, of course)!
*If you think you recognise the rather sinister woman strangling me in the above picture, yes, that's Tracey Wilson herself. Ms Contouri has recorded a brand new commentary with Andrew for the DVD set!
Roll on September! At least you can't say, "Why wasn't I told?"
The Pantyhose Strangler: evolution of a cover design