The Invisible Man (1984) (TV series DVD review).

Back in the 1980s, Barry Letts was producer and Terrance Dicks the script editor on BBC1’s ‘Classic Strand’, adapting various classic books into TV series. Andrew Pixley gives full details in the accompanying 16 page booklet with this DVD of the 1984 TV series ‘The Invisible Man’. The biggest significant detail is scriptwriter James Andrew Hall wanting to be accurate to HG Wells’ novel and having to cut back on some things. Pixley also relates that that it was one of the least successful of the adaptations and because of the violence was put on much later in the evening and whose audience didn’t catch on. I have to confess I don’t even have much memory of its original release.


Griffin (actor Pip Donaghy) is already invisible when we first…er…see him. Actually, he’d dressed in a suit, bandages, false nose and dark glasses, takes over a couple of rooms in a village pub and royally pisses everyone off, especially as he doesn’t keep up with his rent payments. I was a bit puzzled as to why he was trying to repeat his original experiment, more so as he hadn’t included the electro-magnet device that is shown in a recount of how he became invisible a few episodes in. However, Griffin’s short temper is a demonstration of him slowly going mad. Not helped when he shows his secret to the pub clientele and flees. He befriends or is it threatens tramp Thomas Marvel (actor Frank Middlemass) to help him get his scientific books back from the pub. However, when Griffin gets shot, Marvel flees with his books and even though he gets caught up with later, also becomes a failure. He does find his way to the home of Teddy Henfrey (actor Jonathan Adams), who was college a year behind him and reveals his plans of conquest. Henfrey gets his servants out to alert the police and…well, you’ll have to see what happens next.

In many respects, this version of ‘The Invisible Man’ is on par with typical BBC fare for the time period but a lot was done with its limited budget. It’s certainly watchable with interesting performances from the cast. Compared to the pace we’ve got used to watching on TV, then it’s certainly slower but that would be true of any 6-parter. If it had been reedited into, say, two 50 minute episodes, then that might have been ironed out. It didn’t do Louis Jordan’s version of ‘Dracula’ any harm by being longer. If you are used to BBC’s drama productions, then you’ll be happy with the pace.

Only one extra and that is a piece from ‘Did You See?’ where there is a brief discussion of the series mid-season which was largely favourable. Then again, back in 1984, who would have thought extras were needed.

GF Willmetts

June 2016

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 156 minutes 6 * 26 minute episodes. Price: about £ 3.50 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD1509)

cast: Pip Donaghy, Michael Sheard, Frank Middlemass and Jonathan Adams

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