Sunday, 9 November 2008

Avebury: stoned-o-blog™ day 2 supplement - Children Of The Stones

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

cots One little diversion during this holiday was our watching, over two nights, the Seventies cult kids' TV series Children Of The Stones, which I'd brought with on DVD. I think that I vaguely remember it being on TV at the time, but I'd pretty much forgotten about it until a detailed discussion with Treasa, who is a mine of information on this stuff. The even spookier Paperhouse came up too but that, though far from irrelevant, is another topic (but yes, I got that DVD too!) Is this a good moment to mention The Stone Tape too? Hmm, perhaps not, mad cultism alert.

Children of the Stones, though, is very much Avebury through and through, although it is thinly disguised as the fictional Milbury. It's a pretty spooky place and some scary stuff takes place there. Sinister goings-on at the manor house, as you might expect. Basically it was a low-budget attempt to cash in on a sort of Dr Who-ish, Quatermass-ish feeling, and actually it achieves that rather well. They shot the whole thing, seven episodes, over just one fortnight in the very hot summer of 1976. It does make Avebury look very beautiful although I'm not sure that it would be wise to let younger visitors see too much of it before a holiday here, lest they have trouble sleeping. Or go a bit weird about the stones. Or scream when villagers try to say hello to them. Or something. Please note that I have tried not to give away too much of the story here but if you really want to spoiler yourself up something rotten, then please try this, this, this, this, or this. Or, better, ask me to lend you the DVD, assuming that this is physically and administratively easy.

Of course, it is low budget, and in any case seems quite unsophisticated compared to, say, the Dr Who of 2008 - so, not exactly a completely fair comparison, then, but you know what I mean. If you accept it for what it is - unbelievable shiny hair-dos and all - then it's really very enjoyable and its age and budget do nothing to detract from this.

htv_west One thing that excited me greatly about Children of the Stones was the realization that its music was by the late, great Sidney Sager. This isn't surprising as Sidney was, as far as I recall, Head of Music for HTV West, Harlech Television's Bristol-based (and English-speaking) operation who made this series, so I guess he was the obvious composer to use, but I'd forgotten this till I saw his name in the credits. I was very fond of Sidney, who conducted the Bristol Youth Orchestra up to its abolition in 1973. (This was when Bristol lost its youth/education functions to the new County of Avon and the BYO was replaced by the shiny new CASO, more of which some other time. Likewise, more of Sidney and the BYO sometime as I can't do him justice here.) He was a superb musician and a very, very nice man. Anyway, the series has splendidly melodramatic Sager music - apparently he was inspired by Penderecki or something, and a choir do scary or creepy shouting and whispering and whoops and voops at all the right moments. Good stuff, well done Sidney: you were a star.

So anyway, that was the watching of Children of the Stones, that was, and a very pleasant and relevant little entertainment it was.

As an aside I must add that I was somewhat baffled, or amused, or something, that none of the gift shops seemed to have the DVD of this series even though they were pretty well-stocked with locally-connected stuff. You'd think it might sell quite well. I wondered if this was just a lack of awareness, or deliberate policy ... and if the latter, is it because locals hate it, or they don't want to spook the kiddies, or what ... or is it perhaps because it's all true? (Cue distant, deranged laughter.)



Lottie said...

Argh, Paperhouse! Still a bit scarred by that one. Good to see you posting on here again :)

Strawberryyog said...

Ah yes, sorry about that minor post-childhood trauma. I have some excellent non-frightening DVDs too ...