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  • A former UK officer returns to the island of Crete where he played a roll in the resistance movement after the nazi's occupied the island and the British forces where overrun. It's however more as just a vacation meeting old friends, visiting the places from the past, there is a mysterious history involved, he has an old romance but also made enemies from the past. Film is set on Crete in Greece and was for a good part actually filmed on the island. Colorfull TV series which I've seen in 1977 and never since but still can remember vividly, can't wait for it to finally come out on DVD!
  • blacknorth15 April 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Who Pays The Ferryman is a seminal BBC television series, transmitted in 1977. The programme was a major success, watched by millions, the theme tune made the top ten and Michael J Bird established himself as one of the leading screenwriters of the time. The script and acting are of a quality rarely seen since on UK TV, the plot of the series reaching the unbearable pitch of a genuine Greek tragedy by the stunning final episode. Not surprising, as the series is set on Crete and uses local history and lore to move the story along to this extraordinary climax.

    Jack Hedley plays Alan Haldane, a British ex-serviceman and boat-builder who takes early retirement and returns to Crete to look up the friends he had made while fighting with the partisans there during the war. He finds he had unknowingly fathered a daughter and determines to stay on the island to assure her future as best he can. Unfortunately, his daughter's clan is headed up by Patience Collier, a classic Greek dowager, who intervenes to settle old scores. Much pain and tragedy ensue.

    This story is told over eight episodes. Several episodes only touch on the main plot, having stand-alone stories of their own (the Gareth Thomas episode is especially good), and throughout all of them Haldane has an on-off love affair with a local woman who is unaware of his full history - she is played with great depth, gentleness and sympathy by Betty Arvaniti. Other performances of note are Stefan Gryff as the seemingly nonchalant police inspector who seems to act as a moral oracle arbitrating between Cretan traditions and his duties as a modern policeman. And Neil McCarthy as Haldane's oldest friend - an actor of great character with a fantastic ravaged face.

    I can't praise this series highly enough - it's everything that good television should be. More than that - it's event television - a series so good that it captured the public imagination regardless of its complex structure and classical references. Unfortunately, the BBC never bothered to release it on video, so it has faded from living memory. But recently it was issued on DVD in Holland - it is worth tracking down a copy to see just how good, how pure, how brilliant, once casual entertainment was on British television. We have fallen a long way since then. Who pays the ferryman, indeed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Very glad I've got the opportunity, once again, to write a short review, as I've found myself at the receiving end of one of the side-effects of the corona crisis. So it's been hectic, and not in a good way. But brighter days are sure to come along...

    Currently there are but few reviews about the series, but this seems to be caused mainly by availability problems. Certainly most people who were lucky enough to watch the series when it aired, remember it with admiration and fondness.

    In "Who pays the ferryman ?" a middle-aged widower loses the ship yard business that meant so much to him. In an attempt to take stock of his life he returns to Crete, where he spent three years of his youth helping the Greeks fight the Nazis. An old comrade tells him that his then lover, the beautiful Melina, bore him a child. The news comes as a complete surprise, since he never knew of her pregnancy. For some reason or another, their respective letters went astray...

    "Who pays ?" is a fine, well-made series that mixes suspense, intrigue and romance. The pace is deliberate but not slow or boring. Gradually, the story builds up to the kind of finale that will have you discussing it with friends and colleagues for weeks. The Greek setting adds a lot of charm and interest. However, beware of the theme tune : while a nice piece of music, it has a tendency to burrow into your brain...
  • I recall watching it each week in New Zealand. At times it seems to meander along a bit and the second episode I didn't like. However, it captures the Greek culture nicely and builds to quite a finale.