Sunday, 29 March 2015

Weird 1970's Kid's TV: Children Of The Stones

Another one of those fantastically strange kid's drama serials from the maniacs at HTV, Children Of The Stones freaked out a generation, and is regularly referred to as 'the scariest programme ever made for children.'
It's about astrophysicist Adam Brake ( Gareth Thomas off Blake's 7 ) and his son Matthew, who journey to the village of Milbury, the site of a neolithic stone circle ( played by Avebury, a site in Wiltshire that predates Stonehenge. )

Adam is there to investigate the stones, and Matthew, being actually cleverer than his dad but not too annoying with it, has tagged along to help.
Almost immediately, something is very evidently wrong with Milbury. Everyone walks around smiling at nothing, and constantly wishing Matthew a 'Happy Day'.
There are strange pagan rituals going on at night, led by Hendrick, the Laird of the village ( the magnificently urbane and chillingly charming Iain Cuthbertson )

There's a local madman wandering about, with more knowledge of what's happening than anyone, if only someone would actually listen to him ( played by ace mad actor Freddie Jones ).

There's also a painting of a neolithic ritual involving a black hole, and time seems to be not just repeating itself, but repeating itself into infinity. And anyone invited to the Laird's manor for supper, comes back.... changed.

Adam & Matt team up with Margaret, the curator at the village museum, and her daughter Sandra, to try and figure out what's going on, they being the other new arrivals seemingly unaffected by the psychic forces at play in Milbury.

Interestingly, Hendrick recognizes Matthew as his arch-nemesis straight away, and respects him as a worthy opponent, while Adam, being an adult, is sure he already knows all there is to know, so misses every portent that comes his way.
Like a lot of kid's TV at this time, Children Of The Stones freely takes in such subjects as mythology, leylines, the Gaia principle of the Earth, pseudo-science and the fate of humanity in it's seven episodes.
It's full of atmosphere and dread, and people glancing meaningfully at each other, not daring to speak the awful truth. And then there's the opening of the show, where the stones seem to be singing to you. Or maybe warning you away.

Children Of The Stones is a bit Wicker Man, a bit Stepford Wives, and a bit like The Prisoner, what with their seemingly innocuous phrases like 'Happy Day' and 'Be Seeing You'  given sinister intent, and with it's final ending where everything almost, but not quite, goes back to the beginning.
I'm guessing no kid at the time, and very few adults, understood the ending of Children Of The Stones, and the revelations given as to what it had all been about. But that's the mark of the HTV kid's serials, versus the pap children are fed these days. You actually had to think.

And it's all on youtube, so as you're not doing anything Sunday afternoon, put your feet up and watch the whole thing. But be warned. Once you enter Milbury, you might not ever leave.


  1. I saw this again last year, for the first time since it was first broadcast. It's stood the test of time well.

  2. Thanks for posting this Pete:) The most intelligent and engaging kids programme of its time. The casting and setting were perfect. I always wondered about the ending. Did the fact of circular time mean that Adam and Matt would return to the village or someone else as they had managed to escape???

  3. That was a freaky show, thanks for the reminder :) Now you should probably take a look at "King Of The Castle" it's like a brutalist Gormenghast.

  4. I always read the ending that they had escaped, but that everybody else in the village was doomed to repeat the story over and over into infinity, but with slight differences ie. Hendrick is a slightly different version of himself in the last scene.
    Although, throughout the series, they keep seeing things from past and future cycles of time, so yeah, maybe they never actually escape either!

    King Of The Castle: Love to do a bit on it, and you're absolutely right - Gormenghast for kids. Plus it's got Mr MacKay from Porridge in it, but I've only ever seen the first episode! Somebody post it all on youtube ?!!

  5. I don't remember this but there was a kids show that was on Southern in the mid 70's weekdays after school that was set in Egyptian or similar times. The most memorable part was the credits which was a series of very scary masks that I think were mainly gold. Any ideas?

  6. Sounds like The Feathered Serpent, with 2nd Dr. Who Patrick Troughton as a mad aztec priest. It was brilliant!
    That's me off to youtube, then....

  7. That's mental. That's a 40 year mystery solved, cheers. They were very scary masks weren't they? Another slightly longer mystery I solved myself thanks to youtube was Cloud Burst. This info was not available when I first searched 8 years ago. Great stuff;