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Enemy at the Door: Series 1

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It takes more courage to stay than to escape

After Nazi Germany invades the British Channel Islands in the summer of 1940, the occupiers and the occupied settle into an uneasy coexistence. But when does cooperation become collaboration for islanders just trying to survive? How tolerant can the German commandant be before falling under the suspicious eye of Berlin?

This gripping British drama series tells of the stresses and strains, loyalties and loves of civilians and soldiers alike, in a world where shades of gray blur the hard line between black and white. Passion battles against restraint. Pragmatism struggles with principle. And internal conflicts rage as fiercely as those on the battlefield. Ultimately, both sides find they are compromised as much by the actions of their compatriots as they are by the enemy that is always at the door.

Alfred Burke (Public Eye) and Bernard Horsfall (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) star, with guest stars including John Nettles (Midsomer Murders) and Anthony Stewart Head (TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

DVD SPECIAL FEATURE INCLUDES historical background on the Channel Islands.


A memorable series with a thoughtful take on war and human morality that will leave you thinking afterward -- DVD Verdict

Compelling television -- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Emotionally rich, draining, yet unforgettable story-lines -- Film Intuition

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Alfred Burke, Bernard Horsfall
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 663 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001JXPC8C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,279 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on February 22, 2009
Format: DVD
"Enemy at the Door" begins in June, 1940, as the English Channel island, Guernsey, received the undesired but expected arrival of German soldiers. The occupying force was established as a doorway into England. It was a political and psychological ploy to gain advantage over the British, who as yet were victorious with the air war over the Channel.

The first few episodes well establish the main characters, the struggle between the nationalities, as well as the sentiments of the individuals involved. Many island locals have mixed feelings about the need for assisting in any way with the occupation force. Some must walk the fine line between helping the Nazi command and looking out for the needs of the island's inhabitants during the occupation. A young rich local, Peter Porteous (Richard Heffer), leans on the defiant side of the line. Island doctor, Philip Martel (Branard Horsfall), reluctantly takes a role on the local committee to work with the enemy command in hopes it will advance fair treatment for the Guernsey population. His daughter, Clair (Emily Richard) is much less sympathetic and agreeable. Leading the German officers is Maj. Richter (Alfred Burke), who desires compliance but hopes it to be a less than combative existence for both sides. But he must follow orders. The complications of both sides trying to make an unwanted situation work is what makes this series so compelling.

Each episode is like a stand-alone story about living on this occupied island, amidst the fears of war, yet having to learn to live with and under an enemy force.
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Format: DVD
"Enemy at the Door," a British television series, was made in the late 1970's, once again for Britain's independent - privately owned - television stations (ITV). It ran for two seasons on ITV, from 1978-1980, and was broadcast in the U.S. on public television. It combines two highly popular genres, period drama and World War II history. Its series 1 now reaches us in a four DVD box set, comprising 13 episodes, running approximately 663 minutes, with special features including historical background. Unfortunately, it does not include subtitles that would be most welcome in a series of this nature, with such varied accents; still, it is possible to follow the action well enough. (Series 2, not yet released, comprises another 13 episodes.)

The series deals with the British Channel Islands that were invaded and occupied by the Nazi German army in June, 1940: Germany thought they would be a good jumping-off point for its planned invasion of the British Isles themselves. We now know that invasion was never to come, as, in the Battle of Britain, the Brits managed to inflict substantial enough losses on the vaunted German air force, the Luftwaffe, as to disable it from supporting such an invasion. Still, the Channel Islands, although they then became a forgotten backwater of the war, were occupied for five years, almost until the end of the war, and British and Germans had to manage to live together.

Alfred Burke ("Public Eye") stars as Major Reichter, Commanding officer of the occupying forces; Bernard Horsfell( On Her Majesty's Secret Service); stars as Doctor Philip Martel, who unwillingly finds himself on the committee which must liaise with the Germans.
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Format: DVD
Famously, the British Isles held out against invasion by Nazi Germany during WWII - but the Channel Islands - stoutly and firmly British and English-speaking - were taken over and occupied for five years. In fact, the German occupation of the Isle of Guernsey lasted two days longer than Nazi Germany itself, an interesting bit of trivia pointed out in one of the skimpy extras included at the very end of this boxed set. Ever since, the example of the Channel Islands has served as a `what if', for historians and novelists pondering what it would have been like if the Battle of Britain had been lost and the Germans had successfully invaded and occupied Great Britain. How would the citizens of the British Isles behaved under occupation, and how would they have been treated by the occupying Germans; as brutally as the Polish and Czechoslovakians, or with kid gloves as the Danes? What sort of resistance, and what degree of collaboration might have taken place, and how would the tension between those two reactions have played out.

"Enemy at the Door" explores all of that through an interesting handful of characters. This is an ensemble cast, headed by the earnest and responsible medical man, Doctor Philip Martel, his wife and outspoken daughter Clare, his neighbor, the wheel-chair bound Mrs. Porteous and her son Peter, the most inept but well-intentioned spy of World War II. In opposition - sometimes, and sometimes more like an ally - is the head of the civil occupation authority, Major Richter. Major Richter is a decent man, with his own sense of honor but with the responsibility of keeping the island firmly under control, and no hesitation in doing what he sees as his duty. He is assisted in this by the commander of German troops on the island, Major Friedel.
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