Friday, 6 March 2015

Weird 1970's Kid's TV: Sky

HTV was the TV company that covered the west of England, and at some point during the '70's, everyone who worked there ingested a huge bag of mushrooms and came up with a series of children's dramas that were the strangest, creepiest and scariest things anyone's ever produced for kids before or since.
This is the only possible explanation for Sky, my all-time favourite kid's show, and a programme that has literally haunted me since the first time I saw it.

Sky is about a boy who materializes in Somerset one day, who might be a time traveller, might be an alien, and might be an angel, but is nevertheless here at the wrong time in Earth's history, and is searching for something called The Juganet, that will enable him to get to where and when he actually needs to be.
Sky's first appearance on Earth, the opening scenes of the show, have stuck with me since I first saw them, way back in 1975. In fact, for a long time, I thought I'd dreamt that scene. That's what Sky is like.

Because he shouldn't be here, and is by his presence, damaging the natural order, the Earth itself fights Sky, treating him like an infection. At first, plants, trees and the weather try to expunge him, but eventually Nature manifests Goodchild, an earth spirit and wonderfully creepy villain whose task it is to get rid of this alien virus, making Sky interestingly the bad guy in a sense.

Goodchild also has an even creepier henchman to hand, who's actually a transformed crow, and who at one point traps Sky in an other-dimensional haunted house.

As in all children's drama serials, our magical hero is helped by some ordinary kids, Arby and Jane, and their friend Roy. Not that Sky's in any way grateful for his newfound friends' aid. To him, they're lower life forms, put here purely to serve him. ET he is not, and unlike the eternally patient Dr Who, sees no reason why he should explain himself to these neanderthals.

And there's a great scene where, having also fallen in with a mentally disturbed old man called Tom, Sky angrily rants at Arby that only this gentle madman truly understands what's actually happening.
There is, in fact, as was always the case in HTV serials, quite a lot of adult stuff in the background of Sky. And more than a bit in the foreground as well.

From Sky's discourses around faith, reality, ecology and the nature of the universe to the bizarre things the characters go through, there are many themes being addressed and questions being asked here.
I was actually living in Somerset at the time this aired, so most of the scenes, particularly where Sky climbs Glastonbury Tor, have a deeper resonance for me. But still, for anyone interested in a time when TV had intelligence, or just wants their head messed with, you can't do much better than this.

Sky, of course, has it's faults. After all these years, it's a little too leisurely paced, and there's a lot of padding, particularly the pointless scenes of Roy's military father endlessly getting drunk in his living room. And obviously, the special effects are not the greatest, while the ending is confused, confusing and a little anti-climatic after all that's gone before.

But the overriding strangeness of it all, plus the fact that the audience is not only not being talked down to, but is actually being asked to pay attention and think a little, make it an absolute classic.
I don't want to reveal too much of the plot here, it's much better if you experience Sky yourself. It's on youtube right now.
And yes, Dave, this does mean I'll be doing Children Of The Stones as well...


  1. I loved Sky, even though I didn't have a clue what was going on in it. The scene where he's attacked by the tree will stay with me forever.

  2. Yes Pete! Although I loved "Sky" too or any of the output by HTV in the 70s,"Children Of The Stones" was my absolute favourite and deserves a spot on your blog:) No rush.......I've put a flask of tea on and wrapped a blanket round myself! I'll keep watching while ypu put it up:D