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55 customer reviews

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(Jun 21, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

From the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey

Secrets and seduction at a London auction house

Intrigue and romance in a high stakes world

Ben Glazier (Richard Wilson, One Foot in the Grave) and Maggie Perowne (Jan Francis, Just Good Friends) head the paintings department at Klinsky’s, a well-regarded auction house. Ben can’t resist a good mystery, whether it’s identifying a potential Titian masterpiece, tracking down a lost Dickens manuscript, or pondering how to catch Maggie’s attention. Maggie, meanwhile, dabbles in her own workplace intrigue--in the form of dashing-yet-dodgy wine expert Nick Roper (Michael Siberry, The Grand).

Ben and Maggie share a profound passion for the art they put under the hammer, even if the job means contending with professional competition, a cash-mad boss, and the ever-present threat of fraud. One part art caper, one part slow-burn romance, Under the Hammer provides a revealing glimpse into a world that celebrates profit nearly as much as artistic genius.

Written by John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, the series also features superb guest stars, including John Gielgud (Arthur), Emily Mortimer (Match Point), Rosemary Harris (Spider-Man), Hermione Norris (Cold Feet), and Ian Carmichael (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries).

Special Features

Biography of John Mortimer
SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: June 21, 2011
  • Run Time: 357 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004SI5VVI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,451 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 2, 2011
Format: DVD
Great writing (John Mortimer- Rumpole fame) and more British acting stars than Van Gogh had colors. This is a feast for the entertainment eyes, and family friendly. It's a look behind the scenes of Klinsky's Auction House, and the mysteries behind the priceless sale items, or fakes. The department heads of the firm also have a good bit of sideline romance that goes well beyond the water cooler. Plenty of sexy friction as well as drama. Also plenty of laughs. A very solid 5-stars in British Drama.

Cast is led by Maggie (Jan Francis-`Just Good Friends' `Anne of Green Gables, Avonlea') head of Old Masters dept. who's desired by painting expert Ben (Richard Wilson-`One Foot in the Grave' but never says "I can't be-lieve it!"). Maggie is hot for wine dept head Nick (Michael Siberry-`The Grand'). Klinsky's London office Lord Bernard `Chairman' (Robert Lang) cheats with office gal Camilla (Marsha Fitzalan), & then Annabelle (Kate McKenzie-`Endgame'). Shrimsley (Stephen Boxer-`Garrows Law' `Prime Suspect') is too busy counting the company beans to get female-frisky. Receptionist Lucy (Rose Keegan-`Lilies' `Harry Potter') dizzily dreams of acting.

And then the GUEST STARS begin to appear profusely in each episode. Many stars are not even recognized as such on the box or in the credits, just listed as a cast member. Many are noted below in the episode details (without spoilers).
7 Episodes, about 51 minutes each, all with SUBTITLES provided.
Bonus is a text bio of Mortimer, the AMAZING writer.
Rated perhaps PG (?) with plenty of adultery and bed shots but everyone covered. General family entertainment, but content likely more young adult and older.
Read more ›
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By author of The Devil's Bonfire on June 25, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I eagerly purchased this series after reading the glowing reviews. Even though I often enjoy British TV, this series was not to my taste. The major problem, for me, was the under use of investigative research, both academic and scientific, about the art and characters that did not engage my interest.

Richard Wilson's attempt at portraying a sophisticated Ben came off more as just an unpleasantly snide man. I could not like the character or root for him, in his attempts to romance a much younger woman.

To me, the series would be greatly improved by an almost police procedural approach to investigating the art. Very little analysis was shown. If this was meant to be a comedy, it was just not funny enough. As a mystery, the series is only passable. I find that I much prefer "New Tricks" in a similar TV series category.

However, the cameos, by the likes of John Gielgud, were really wonderful. To me, the guest star performances only served to accentuate what was lacking in the rest of the episode. More engaging characterizations and a more interesting treasure hunt would have been just my cup of tea.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 26, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If one has enjoyed the writings of John Mortimer in "Rumpole of the Bailey" one will certainly enjoy "Under the Hammer" which was also written by John Mortimer. I really enjoyed this seven (7) episode series on two discs. We get a peak "behind the scenes" at a British Auction House for fine (high end and expensive) art in London in the early 1990s. What intrigues, drama and sexual "goings on" there are.

Besides some wonderfully humorous dialog for the viewer to enjoy, there are good mysteries to be solved by the team of Ben (played greatly by Richard Wilson) and Maggie (played wonderfully by Jan Francis) heading up the "Fine Arts" team and are always questioning "is it real or fake" uncovering extreme efforts by many characters (played by some famous British actors such as Sir John Gielgud--he's fabulous plus there are many, many more "guests") to "pass off" fakes or to just "pull one over" on the experts. In addition to the "Art Intrigues", there are delicious sub-plots involving the "sexual affairs " of Maggie and the wine Department head of the Auction House, Nick and the ongoing affair of the chairman and his "office gal" that he's not married to along with his many efforts to"hide" her. Added to the aforesaid, Ben is secretly in love with Maggie and is very jealous of she and Nick,

All in all, I derived hours of pleasure from viewing "Under the Hammer" and highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys wonderfully written, directed and acted British "mysteries".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RMWARZ on August 23, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
We had high hopes for this series because it was by John Mortimer, the creator of two series that we had enjoyed very much: Rumpole of the Bailey and Summer's Lease. Under the Hammer unfortunately demonstrates that nobody bats a thousand. In Episode 1 (after which we quit watching) the lead characters were unappealing, much of the dialogue bore no resemblance to natural speech and the plot, though it had a beginning, a middle and an end, somehow still managed to leave the impression that it went nowhere. The only redeeming features of the episode were brief star turns by John Gielgud, who as seemed to be his habit in his later years, stole the whole show, and character actor Frederick Treves.
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