Written by: Christopher O’Neill on September 13th, 2011
Release Date: UK, 1st September 1986
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Writer: John Esmonde and Bob Larbey
Cast: Karl Howman, Kim Thomson, Gary Waldhorn, Jackie Lye, Mike Walling
South Londoner Jacko is a painter and decorator who loves women. So much so, that he finds it impossible to stay settled to just one, and uses his cheeky charm on almost any lady he comes across. While his best friend, brother-in-law and co-worker Eric has married into a life of domesticity, such an existence is not for Jacko, much to the chagrin of his employer, Lionel. Uptight and distrusting of Jacko’s womanising ways, he attempts to fire him on numerous occasions, only for Jacko to talk is way around and out of the situation. But things hit too close to home when Jacko discovers that his latest lady of interest is Lionel’s daughter Lesley, a spoilt daddy’s girl who thrives on the fact that her father can’t stand her new boyfriend.
Originally broadcast in 1986 and eventually running five seasons, Brush Strokes was conceived by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, the writing team of who had previously collaborated on such popular television series as Please Sir, The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles. While the British sitcom often ridicules the ageing Lothario figure as tragic or moronic, Jacko is presented here as a content and genuinely well-intentioned character who simply finds it impossible to commit to just one partner. Written with a laid-back and unassuming charm, much of the success of Brush Strokes also rides on the central performance from Karl Howman. Having made numerous television appearances, as well as a few notable film roles in Babylon and James Kenelm Clarke’s Exposé, Howman acquaints himself well in the lead role. There is ample support from the rest of the cast, particularly Gary Waldhorn as his long-suffering boss Lionel and Jackie Lye as Jacko’s on-and-off love interest Sandra. Waldhorn departed from Brush Strokes after series three and, while the show continued without him for two more seasons, his presence was sorely missed in the final episodes.
Acorn Media release the first two seasons of Brush Strokes to disc. The 20 episodes are spread over two discs, but the DVD-R screener I was sent for reviewing purposes only contained the first six episodes and appeared heavily compressed. While this is a far from ideal way to judge the technical specifications of the DVD, it would seem that the episodes are sourced from the original broadcast masters. As was standard practice for British television of the time, the interior studio-bound sequences were shot on video, while the exterior location scenes were filmed on 16mm and transferred to video so all the footage could be edited together. If the six episodes on the screener disc are anything to go by, the image quality of all the episodes appear to be a decent representation of the original elements with clean visuals and audio.
The only additional features on this DVD set appear to be Cast Filmographies, but these were not present on the screener disc so I cannot comment.