Showing posts from November, 2016

Two Children's Programmes: The Owl Service and The Flockton Flyer

Reflections on some 1970s children's TV programmes today, which I'm putting in a single post because I don't think my jaundiced meanderings on each are substantial enough for one post. It's a funny thing, because even though I am a 70s baby, I almost never remember the children's programmes of the 70s which are eulogised in the reviews on Amazon. I periodically watch one of them and have posted here about the ones which take my fancy. The first of the two I have in mind today is The Owl Service, adapted for screen from his own novel by Alan Garner. If there is one thing that can truthfully be said about The Owl Service, it is that it is guaranteed to leave its viewer uncomfortable. For a start, the book it is based on wasn't intended for children originally. And of course on adaptation the book doesn't really make a convincing children's programme, since to adult eyes it is quite incredibly sexy. I mean real, proper, all but showing it, young sexy stu

Francis Durbridge Presents... The Desperate People

Mitchell Hadley at It's About TV commented on my post about Doctor Who: The Invasion that that was the first disc he bought on an international basis to circumvent high US prices and to play on his multi-region DVD player. It is a funny thing that the modern world of interational commerce and the internet mean that we cult TV fans are better served than we ever would have been in the days of the TV series we like to watch! I personally bought my set of The Man from UNCLE from Canadian Amazon. It was remarkably inexpensive and was couriered over to me and arrived two days after I ordered it. In the bad old days we would probably have been forced to belong to clubs and subscribe to magazines to get the TV programmes we like. This is also how I have managed to obtain the first of two volumes of Francis Durbridge Presents. I wrote some time ago, when I bought the region 2 DVDs of A Game of Murder that I was confused about whether or how the whole remaining series had been released o

Dick Barton Special Agent

My policy on this blog is not to write about shows which are complete duds; of course it also means that if a show does not appear on this blog it may mean I think it is a dud or I may just not have got round to writing about it. Nonetheless I think it is better to use this blog to write about quality TV than to publish a list of shows which should be avoided. The point of this preamble is that this post is intended to rehabilitate a show which is unfairly neglected in my opinion. The reviews online seem either to be outstandingly positive or absolutely terrible. This show is real Marmite, and it is the 1979 Southern TV series Dick Barton Special Agent. The original Dick Barton series was a radio series broadcast from 1946 to 1951on the Light Programme, and the eponymous hero undertook a series of adventures, driven by his boredom after being demobbed after the war. The series is redolent of a Britain long-gone, and many of the attitudes it shows are redolent of a dream Britain whic

Doctor Who: The Invasion Again

I see that I have blogged about this Doctor Who adventure here before (, and was surprised to see that what I focussed on was comparing Doctor Who with Sapphire and Steel, and that on re-watching this adventure, it makes quite a different impression on me. The subject of The Invasion, put very simply, is fear and loathing of The Machine, and the ambivalence towards technology which was so characteristic of the time provides a number of ironic twists to this adventure. The first of these is obviously that ironically, despite the Doctor's repeated statements that he hates computers (which I am taking as representative of technology as a whole) this adventure does not survive in its entirety. The irony is that the technology of the time, and the television companies' attitudes to it, resulted in this cry against the dominance of technology not surviving. This irony becomes even more twisted when it comes to the