Saturday, 15 November 2014

Iconic children's TV shows, often recalled with great affection

The arts have a unique ability to transport our mind off to faraway places, to excite our imagination and invite us to enjoy experiences, responses, emotions, we might never get the chance to do, in our day to day lives.  This can be particularly powerful for children.

My childhood was nothing like the idyllic scenes often portrayed in literature and film, but the magic of creative, inspiring, often pioneering kids TV, made life not only bearable, for me, but, at times, thrilling beyond belief.

Here are 3 shows I recall with particular affection:

The theme tune from the original "Belle and Sebastian" TV show actually makes me quite tearful, even now! It featured a little orphan boy and his deep attachment to a (not very scary) wild dog that roamed the mountains, which everyone was always trying to kill. A film, adaptation was released in 2013, but lacked the charm of the 1960s black and white episodes.

Innovative, in so many ways - exceptional writing, which incorporated elements of the eerie supernatural, along with transcendental mysticism, and a cast to die for!  It starred protagonist, Tarot, a heart-stoppingly dishy stage magician with psychic powers, and featured various side-kicks (Mikki, a journalist, and her brother, Chas, a photographer - in the 3rd series).  Running from 1970-1972, with series 3 repeated in 1973, everything about these episodes was cool, from the far out graphics in the title sequence, to the theme tune by Andy Brown and the iconic, stylish presentation. So many hearts broken, when a promised series 4 never materialised, I'm sure this is one show that could be successfully resurrected and lovingly reworked for a modern audience, because it remains, for many of us, the best TV show ever made for adolescents!

A one-off serial, that ran over 7 episodes in 1977, and which combined the sinister world of the occult with some rudimentary cosmology!   While protagonist Matthew Brake, naturally, lacked the obvious sex appeal, charisma and kudos of Tarot, he sort of reminded you of the irritating nerdy kid at school, everyone ridiculed, but you often had strange, secret dreams about, because your subconscious always regarded intellect to be utterly enchanting!   (To this day, if a man says "phantasmagorical" I have to stop myself swooning!)  Writer, Jeremy Burnham published a long-awaited sequel novel, "Return to the Stones", in 2012, which took me right back to being a teenager, and it's surprising, once again, this hasn't been updated, to appeal to a new generation of viewers, because the writing is exceptionally good.