A Weekend Away

Both series, A Weekend Away and A Week By The Sea,  were originally published on two VHS cassettes per series, totalling four video cassettes. At the time, they were rightly viewed as “educational software” and priced accordingly, so that each series cost around £130. All four cassettes are now published as one DVD for £16.50 ( + VAT in the UK) a small fraction of the original price. If enough people want separate editions, we will produce the series as two DVDs. Initially, we are only offering the “Two-On-One” edition.

Go to: BUY NOW

£16.50  (+ VAT for UK customers)

For Japan only, they are distributed by eltbooks.com

A Weekend Away DVD menu

A Weekend Away was originally devised to tie with the Elementary level syllabus of Streamline English Departures, with each episode relating roughly to ten units in the book. As the syllabus progression of Streamline was pretty standard, it could be used with any course, and was. The new edition assumes no tie-in to any other materials.

They were filmed in 1986 and 1987, and were the best-selling of all our thirteen ELT video series. They were hugely popular and many schools still have group sets of Activity Books.  The series were put of print in 2009 and we received many requests via our website for copies. We watched through extracts with selected target groups in 2010, who all loved the videos, and while ten years ago they looked slightly dated because of clothes and cars, they now have the aura of classic sitcoms. They are sitcom based, with a loose continuing story, though each episode can be viewed separately.

See Filming A Weekend Away for anecdotes.

They were filmed with small film crews, and were the first full-scale Oxford English Video productions. Fortunately, the director, Robert Reed, advised that the most important thing was the actors, and he chose an excellent cast. We’ve linked their names to their Internet Movie Database profiles below. People remember “Kevin and Sharon” most vividly (David Janson and Debbie Arnold). One of the major themes in A Weekend Away is Gary’s growing interest in Margaret, and her son Nicholas’s disapproval. There are all sorts of humorous subtle bits of interplay. It became apparent during filming that Kevin and Sharon were the focus of interest in every scene they were in, and it became even more apparent when we started classroom testing the video while writing the original Activity Book. This is why when we moved from A Weekend Away to A Week By The Sea, we decided to base the second series around their characters. One of the best things about writing a series and filming at intervals is that by the second series, you know the actors, and you can envisage them in scenes.

David and Debbie met during A Weekend Away and later married and had two children, and told us how they were walking along a Spanish street as a school finished for lunch. They were surrounded by astonished kids who had spent the previous hour watching them on screen as Kevin & Sharon. They immediately went into character for the kids.

We have prepared completely new Study Guides for the re-issued series. These are Study Guides are black & white, and contain the basic exploitation for students, the transcripts, and summaries of grammar, fixed expressions and vocabulary. They differ in style and intent from the original Activity Books. We developed other exploitation techniques in the ten Study Guides we wrote after A Weekend Away, and also we’re assuming that this no longer  a teacher-centred lesson with lots of paired question and answer work. The new Study Guides are more focussed on dealing with the video itself. This is the 2011 Study Guide cover for A Weekend Away.

A Weekend Away (Beginner)


Top row, left to right:  Sharon, Margaret, Kevin
Bottom row, left to right:  Nicholas, Gary, Mrs Wilson

Sharon Smith (Debbie Arnold) is a hairdresser from Braintree, Essex.
Kevin Smith (David Janson) is a painter and decorator.
Gary Blake (Matt Zimmerman) is an American engineer, working in Britain. He’s single.
Margaret Barton (Sandra Payne) is a teacher. She’s a widow.
Nicholas Barton (Christian Salari) is her son, and is still at school.
Florence Wilson (Avril Angers)is retired.

Pictures: T0 to bottom

Gary and Margaret, Episode 6 , Oxford

Mrs Wilson in a toy shop, Episode 3, Shopping

Kevin & Sharon, Episode 3, Shopping

Gary, Mrs Wilson, Nicholas, Episode 5, The Drive in The Country

The episodes

1 The Notice Gary is an American living in England. He plans a weekend trip to Oxford by minibus and invites people from his block of flats to join him. We meet the other characters. The next Friday they set off for Oxford.
2 The First Stop Friday afternoon. They stop at the motorway services, and eat in the restaurant.
3 At The Hotel Friday evening. They arrive at the hotel. Kevin & Sharon look at their room. They all meet in the evening and discuss plans for the weekend.
4 Shopping Saturday morning. Everyone goes shopping in Oxford. Kevin and Sharon shop for clothes, Mrs Wilson looks for toys, Margaret and Nicholas go to a computer store.
5 The Drive In The Country Saturday afternoon. They go for a drive out in the countryside, but the minibus runs out of petrol. Kevin goes to get some. It begins snowing.
6 Oxford Sunday morning. Gary, Margaret and Nicholas go sightseeing in Oxford. They visit St. John’s College, and Margaret loses her umbrella.
7 The Game of Football Sunday afternoon. They’re on their way home. They stop and have a game of football. Kevin has an accident, and they take him to hospital.
8 The Photographs Two weeks later. Gary invites everyone to his flat, and shows them his photos from the trip to Oxford.

STILLS selection

Episode 1: The Notice

Kevin and Sharon in Episode 2, The First Stop

Episode 3: At The Hotel

Episode 4: shopping. Kevin & Sharon in Oxford

Episode 4: Shopping. Do you like this one … or that one?

Episode 4: Gary & Margaret. Romantic interest developing …

Episode 5: The Drive In The Country. Kevin goes for petrol

Episode 7: Gary: I’ve never played football before …

Gary, Nicholas & Kevin from Episode 7, The Game of Football

Episode 8. They assemble to look at the holiday photos.

Language syllabus

1 The Notice to be + questions

demonstratives: this, that, these, those;

meetings, greetings

2 The First Stop requests, offers: I’d like … Would you like …?

Imperatives; has, have got; can;

mass & unit; food, drink

3 At The Hotel there is / there are;

present continuous; going to future;

describing places, making plans

4 Shopping like, want, need; present simple for habits;

frequency adverbs;

shopping;  likes and dislikes; times; prices

5 The Drive In The Country past simple; was, were;
irregular verbs, regular verbs;

narrative; time words

6 Oxford past simple;

past continuous; when, while;

must, mustn’t, needn’t; looks like … Past; obligation, lack of obligation

7 The Game of Football present perfect; already, just, often, yet

comparative and superlative;

past obligation had to

8 The Photographs ’ll, will, shall, let’s ;

offers, requests, suggestions;
present perfect for, since

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