7. The Tripods
Giant three legged machines, piloted by evil aliens called the Masters, nothing to be scared of here right?
The series introduced several minor changes from the book, notably the shape of the Masters and Tripods, which have tentacles (although the Tripods do have a mechanical claw-arm that they sometimes use) in the book; the Black Guard was introduced to serve as a tangible human antagonist as overuse of the Tripods themselves would be expensive to film and undermine their dramatic presence; gravity inside the Golden City was increased artificially, which is not mentioned in the TV series; the introduction of “cognoscs”, spiritual life-forms vastly superior to the Masters themselves; and more other main characters, including love interests for both Will and Beanpole. The original texts have few female characters. John Christopher was asked about this for an interview on Wordcandy, replying that at the time of writing the series, it was generally accepted that girls would read books with boy main characters, but not vice versa. He also stated that he felt the addition of an entire family of girls to the TV series was somewhat “over the top”. The series is also notable for featuring non-humanoid aliens, which was uncommon at the time.
Charlotte Long, who played Will’s love interest Eloise, died in a car crash shortly after the start of transmission of the first series. For the second series, the role was briefly recast, with Cindy Shelley appearing as Eloise during a dream sequence.
8. Hammer House of Horror!
Hammer Film Productions is a British film production company based in London. Founded in 1934, the company is best known for a series of gothic horror films made from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. Many of these involved classic horror characters such as Baron Frankenstein, Count Dracula, and The Mummy, which Hammer re-introduced to audiences by filming them in vivid colour for the first time. Hammer also produced science fiction, thrillers, film noir and comedies, as well as, in later years, television series. During their most successful years, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying worldwide distribution and considerable financial success. This success was due, in part, to their partnerships with major United States studios, such as Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros.
During the late 1960s and 1970s the saturation of the horror film market by competitors and the loss of American funding forced changes to the previously lucrative Hammer formula, with varying degrees of success. The company eventually ceased production in the mid-1980s. In 2000, the studio was bought by a consortium including advertising executive and art collector Charles Saatchi and publishing millionaires Neil Mendoza and William Sieghart. The company announced plans to begin making films again after this, but none were produced.
9. Children of Green Knowe
Aimed at children, this story of a boy who encounters three ghosts of his ancestors had many of us hiding behind the sofa!
Green Knowe is a series of six children’s novels written by Lucy M. Boston, illustrated by her son Peter Boston, and published from 1954 to 1976. It features a very old house, Green Knowe, based on Boston’s home at the time, The Manor in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire. In the novels she brings to life the people she imagines might have lived there. For the fourth book in the series, A Stranger at Green Knowe (1961), Boston won the annual Carnegie Medal, recognising the year’s best children’s book by a British subject. She was a commended runner up for both the first and second books.
Some of the stories feature Toseland, a boy called Tolly for short, and his great-grandmother Mrs. Oldknow. Green Knowe is inhabited by the spirits of people who lived there in ages past, and more than one of the spirits Tolly knows as children later grow into adults. Other supernatural entities in the series include the children’s dog, Orlando; demonic tree-spirit, Green Noah (manifesting as a large tree on the grounds of the manor house); and an animated statue of St. Christopher. Faber and Faber published the first five books, 1954 to 1964. In the US, Harcourt published them, the first in 1955 and the others within the calendar year of British publication. The last book appeared after more than a decade, published by The Bodley Head and Atheneum Books in 1976. Lucy M. Boston also published an excerpt from An Enemy At Green Knowe as a short story, “Demon at Green Knowe” (1964), which was compiled in Spook, Spooks, Spooks
10. Children of the Stones – TV Shows
It was all very mysterious – set around a stone circle, I just remember the wailing!
The series followed the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his young son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle. Filmed at Avebury, Wiltshire during Summer 1976, with interior scenes filmed at HTV’s Bristol studios, it was an unusually atmospheric production with sinister, discordant wailing voices heightening the tension on the incidental music. The music was composed by Sidney Sager who used the Ambrosian Singers to chant in accordance with the megalithic rituals referred to in the story. Director Peter Graham Scott was surprised on seeing the script that the series was intended for children’s airtime due to the complexities of the plot and disturbing nature of the series.
Cast as the leader of the village, Hendrick was well-known actor Iain Cuthbertson, while the leading role of Adam Brake was filled by another experienced actor, Gareth Thomas. Cuthbertson and Thomas had previously worked together on the TV series Sutherland’s Law. Veronica Strong (the wife of series co-writer Jeremy Burnham) played Margaret Smythe, the winsome curator of the local museum who partners with Brake to solve the mystery. The child actors Peter Demin (aged 17 at the time of filming)and Katharine Levy played the teenage leads Matthew (Brake’s son) and Sandra (Smythe’s daughter). Two popular character actors of the time, Freddie Jones and John Woodnutt, were cast as poacher Dai and butler Link.