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With the spring equinox upon us, it’s the time of the yr when ceremony, the esoteric and the occult are as soon as extra launched into the social coronary heart of Britain. What higher strategy to have a good time than by revisiting some ‘wyrd’ highlights from our tv previous?

The Nineteen Seventies was a golden period for quirky and good tv, however 1977’s schedules particularly appeared to supply a bountiful crop of what’s now termed folks horror. The examples listed under provide a heathen harvest of highly effective stone circles, Arthurian legends, occult happenings and harmful edgelands. Forty years later, these small-screen gems retain the facility to shock and unsettle…

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Youngsters of the Stones

First proven: 10 January to 21 February 1977, ITV

Youngsters of the Stones (1977)

One of the outstanding of people horror sequence to emerge within the Nineteen Seventies, Youngsters of the Stones gathers collectively a few of the style’s most recognisable attributes. Written by Trevor Ray and Jeremy Burnham, and maybe one of many scariest of youngsters’s programmes ever made, the sequence follows Dr Adam Brake (Gareth Thomas) and his son as they turned trapped within the nation village of Milbury (Avebury in actual life) after trying to conduct of examine of its many standing stones. It seems that the stones are related to a black gap whose energy is being harnessed by the village’s chief, Hendrick (Iain Cuthbertson), to wipe all free will and unfavourable ideas from the populace.

The sequence additionally has one probably the most unnerving and ‘wyrd’ opening titles, heightened by Sidney Sager’s soundtrack, which used the choral expertise of the Ambrosian Singers to musically react to the person stones in every shot.

A {Photograph}

First proven: 22 March 1977, BBC1

A {Photograph} (1977)

The BBC’s Play for At this time slot went from energy to controversial energy within the late Nineteen Seventies. With instalments corresponding to Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Celebration (1977), Ken Loach’s The Worth of Coal (1977) and Alan Clarke’s banned Scum (1977), the sequence was arguably at its highest inventive peak. One play that received misplaced amongst these many glorious works in 1977 was John Bowen’s A {Photograph}, a component follow-up to his earlier folks horror episode for the slot: Robin Redbreast (1970). The play follows the occult misdoings of Mrs Vigo (Freda Bamford), a personality from that earlier play, who’s now residing in a caravan and nonetheless inflicting mischief.

King of the Citadel

First proven: 8 Could to 19 June 1977, ITV

King of the Citadel (1977)

Like Youngsters of the Stones, this seven-part sequence was produced by HTV, the Welsh ITV franchise. Written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, King of the Citadel appears a extremely uncommon selection at first, with its preliminary setting in a run-down, brutalist high-rise à la J.G. Ballard. But, when its lead character turns into trapped and unconscious in a elevate after being chased by native bullies, he enters a nightmarish dream world, half Kafka-infused paperwork, half Common horror.  Although its narrative is comparatively flimsy, it’s stuffed with usually Ballardian visible motifs and mixes a really stark facet of social realism with The Journey Recreation-style fantasy.

Raven

First proven: 19 September to 24 October 1977, ITV

Raven (1977)

Raven follows Phil Daniels as a borstal boy despatched out on probation solely to turn out to be embroiled within the marketing campaign to avoid wasting archaeologically essential caves from being destroyed by plans for a brand new nuclear energy plant. 

Channelling Arthurian legend very a lot within the vein of Alan Garner’s writing and comparable in its eco message to earlier reveals corresponding to HTV’s Sky (1975) and the BBC’s The Adjustments (1975), Raven is an extremely efficient piece of people horror. As Daniels additionally performs a borstal boy in Scum, which was withdrawn from broadcast this similar yr, the sequence feels oddly like a sequel to that play, by which the character of Richards is launched again into 1977 solely to search out it affected by Arthurian magic and unusual, historical powers taking maintain.

Physician Who – Picture of the Fendahl

First proven: 29 October to 19 November 1977, BBC1

Physician Who: Picture of the Fendahl (1977)

Nigel Kneale was typically dismissive of Physician Who, largely as a result of he felt the sequence to be constructed from the concepts he shaped via Quatermass. Although the sequence hardly ever tackled the type of themes current in Kneale’s work usually, Chris Boucher’s Picture of the Fendahl serial got here extremely near Knealian territory. It follows Tom Baker because the Physician, together with his companion Leela (Louise Jameson), as they arrive throughout a time distortion in a forest surrounding an outdated priory now used for scientific analysis. An impossibly outdated humanoid cranium has been present in Kenya with a pentagram on it, which seems to be the remnants of an alien from Gallifreyan mythology.

With its folk-horror tropes of occult villagers, salt getting used as an historical weapon towards evil, and eerily conveyed haunted woods, the story is likely one of the only from Nineteen Seventies Physician Who.

Stigma

First proven: 29 December 1977, BBC1

Stigma (1977)
RadioTimes web page from 1977 exhibiting the Stigma itemizing

By 1977, the BBC Ghost Story for Christmas slot had turn out to be a daily, wintery haunting.  Lawrence Gordon Clark had been directing one per yr since 1971, often adapting the ghost tales of M.R. James (although the earlier instalment had been an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ ‘The Signalman’).

Stigma is Clark’s first try at an unique ghost story, written by Clive Exton, and follows the unusual goings on at a cottage in Avebury. After discovering a big stone of their backyard, clearly a part of the broader circle of ‘menhir’ within the adjoining subject, Katherine (Kate Binchy) and Peter (Peter Bowles) choose to have it eliminated by crane. Shifting the stone unleashes ghostly forces, which Katherine faces the brunt of, inexplicably starting to bleed from invisible wounds unseen on her physique. Stigma was the primary and solely BBC Ghost Story to observe the haunting of a feminine lead, asking stark questions in regards to the position of girls’s our bodies in sacrifice.

Apaches / The Ending Line

The Ending Line (1977)

Many public info movies had been made within the Nineteen Seventies, however 1977 boasted two of the most effective and strangest. John Mackenzie’s Apaches is a security movie in regards to the hazards of enjoying on a farm, which, whereas designed for a younger viewers, may be seen as Mackenzie honing his portrayal of violence and loss of life forward of his subsequent London gangster movie, The Lengthy Good Friday (1980). The Ending Line, however, enters absolutely into surrealism by exhibiting what would occur if the video games of a faculty sports activities day had been centred round a prepare monitor. One in every of many public info movies directed by John Krish, it manages to stability a ‘wyrd’ sense of the macabre with the extra surreal parts usually present in movies by the likes of Lindsay Anderson, Richard Lester and Peter Medak.

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