Thursday, 7 May 2015

Weird 1970's Kid's TV: Raven

Following Sky, HTV went all out and updated the Arthurian legend in this, the first big break for professional cockney geezer Phil Daniels.
Daniels is Raven, a bad kid freshly released from a young offenders institution, and an orphan who was found as a baby lying in an ancient earthworks, guarded over by a mysterious raven.
As the story starts, he's placed with his probabtion carers, grumpy old professor Young ( Michael Aldridge ) and sweet and slightly dotty Mrs. Young ( '70's sitcom queen Patsy Rowlands ), and initially sees them as easy marks, before getting unnacountably interested in the professor's work.

Young is an archeologist, currently excavating a network of caves that were supposedly used by King Arthur. Unfortunatly, the nasty old government want somewhere to bury their nuclear waste, and the professor has only a short time to convince the Man From The Ministry of the caves' historical importance, before they'll be ruined forever.
Raven is intrigued by Young's claims that Arthur may not've been one man at all, but a title bestowed on various chief's who rose up to defend England in times of peril.
He soon takes the professor's side against the government and, with the help of local reporter and dolly bird Naomi ( Shirley Cheriton ) mounts a campaign to stop the desecration of the caves.

Almost immediately, weird things start happening. Raven is stalked by a Merlin, a bird not native to this part of the country and in one excursion into the caverns, experiences a vison of himself as Arthur.
Meanwhile, the professor is all sidelong glances and cryptic comments, leaving us in no doubt as to his knowledge of who he, Raven and Naomi really are.

Raven doesn't have quite as much strange imagery, nor is it as baffling as Sky or Children Of The Stones, and in fact you could take out all the Arthurian stuff and be left with much the same story.
But it belongs, like them, to what's been called The Age Of Aquarius / Gaia style of children's dramas. Stone circle's, ecology and astrology all play a part in the storyline, and Raven is definitely the most anti-establishment and political of the HTV serials.

And it does have a magical, bittersweet ending.

The cast are all great, and Daniels ( basically playing himself ) gets to utter some fantastic geezer-ish lines, like in the scene where the editor of the local newspaper refuses to help in the campaign because he went to school with Professor Young, and never liked him, Raven retorts: That's great, innit? Just 'cos 'e nicked yer ruler back in th' Dark Ages, you won't do th' right fing!
He also regularly refers to Naomi as: Oi! Tasty!
Only in the '70's.
It's on dailymotion right now.


  1. I don't remember it very well,but being HTV I'm sure it was excellent,like the rest of their output!

  2. Shirley Cheriton was a gorgeous girl. Loved her in Angels and, of course, Eastenders.

  3. Angels, of course! I couldn't remember what else Shirley was in. It was a bit rude, wasn't it?