When British engineer Barry Collier is injured in an accident in Cyprus, his brother David (Peter McEnery) immediately flies out to be at his side... but it is too late. After the funeral David is approached by the beautiful Helene (Alexandra Bastedo), eager to inform him that the death was no accident. And her mysterious companions Basileos (Brian Blessed) and Charalambos (Stefan Gryff) seem to know a great deal more. But can he trust them? Collier finds himself drawn into a complex conspiracy filled with intriguing characters and increasingly strange experiences as he tries to unravel the truth behind his brother's death.
Needless to say (or else I wouldn't feature it on my blog) there is a mythological twist to the story and although the series is a bit... dated, it'll still keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Aphrodite Inheritance was a follow-up to the success of his previous two Mediterranean-set series 'The Lotus Eaters' and 'Who Pays the Ferryman?', both now also out on DVD.
'The Lotus Eaters' is the first of an unofficial quartet of serials written by Bird and set in the Mediterranean. The series dealt with the lives of various British expats living on the island of Crete and their reasons for being there. The central characters were a married couple, Erik (Ian Hendry) and Ann Shepherd (Wanda Ventham) who ran a tavern called "Shepherd's Bar". The official description goes as follows:
"To eat the fruit of the lotus is to lose the desire to return home. But everyone who does has a reason. Shepherd's Bar is a focal point for a group of expatriates living in and around a small town on the island of Crete. The bar is owned and run by reformed alcoholic Erik Shepherd (Ian Hendry). For Erik temptation is never far away, and his faltering marriage to Ann (Wanda Ventham) provides solace. The arrival of Englishman Donald Culley (James Kerry) causes something of a stir. Culley is charming, handsome and by his generosity he quickly wins over other members of the little community. But Culley knows that the long-suffering Ann has a secret of her own, a secret that could prove far more destructive than Erik's drinking... Never before available on DVD, this classic series is a collection of nine self-contained plays, each telling the story of a different member of the community. Each story is skilfully woven into the continuing sub-plot about the deteriorating relationship between the mysterious Erik and Ann Shepherd."
The second part of the 'series', 'Who Pays the Ferryman?' was produced by the BBC in 1977. The title of the series refers to the ancient religious belief and mythology of Kharon the ferryman to Hades. In the series, Jack Hedley stars as Alan Haldane an ex-soldier who returns to Crete, thirty years after fighting alongside the local resistance during the Second World War. Alan is wanting to take stock of his life following the sale of his boat-building business. He wants to look for his beloved Melina, from whom he has heard nothing from in his years away from the island. When he arrives in Crete he finds the ghosts of the past waiting for him, along with those who wish to do him harm. The shadows of his past interrupt and threaten his present happiness. When an old friend tells him Melina passed away and left a daughter, his daughter, Alan decides to stay on the island to be close to his new family. When he meets Annika (Betty Arvaniti), Melina's sister he falls in love with her. However, he does not take into account the hatred of the elderly Katerina (Patience Collier) who breathes new life into an old feud, and puts his life at serious risk. Torn between fear and desire Alan is slowly but surely separated from the past.
As far as I am aware, the fourth part of the series has not yet come out on DVD. It's titled 'The Dark Side of the Sun'. The series takes place on the Greek island of Rhodes. The story combines elements of supernatural Gothic romance with the contemporary conspiracy thriller. There are themes of telepathy and hypnosis, and a secret society, descended from the Knights Templar, holding clandestine meetings on the island.
The Aphrodite Inheritance is the only one in the series with overt mythological themes, but every single one of the series caused an explosion of tourism and interest in the filming locations. They all paint a beautiful picture of modern Greece. If you have trouble coming up with ideas for your wish list, I've got you covered with these.