Sunday, 16 June 2013

Your favourite childhood TV memories.

Skagman - Avebury. By John Nuttall from Hampshire, United Kingdom
(AveburyUploaded by ComputerHotline)
[CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A wise man once said, "Life without variety is like cow heel without tripe," and who could argue with a claim like that?

I certainly couldn't. Nor could Crikey the evil ventriloquist's dummy who guides my every action.

Therefore I thought I'd make a rare drift away from the long-gone world of comics and look at the long-gone world of TV.

This post is, of course, not for mere common-or-garden TV - but for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Horror series that thrilled us in our younger days.

Many and splendiferous were the treats that TV gave us during our childhoods. If it wasn't Dr Who or Star Trek, it was the Tomorrow People and UFO.

British TV of course held up its end magnificently during that era, with a whole slew of children's shows that seemed designed to send us screaming to a padded cell. Escape into Night gave us a house surrounded by boulders with eyeballs. While Children of the Stones gave us the Avebury sarsens turned evil.

And there was more.

The Changes gave us a world without technology. Sky gave us a boy from the future, attacked by trees, while Timeslip gave us yet-to-come dystopias of heat and cold.

Then again, there was the nightmarish The Singing Ringing Tree - that East German fairy tale that did more than anything to convince us it was a good idea to keep an iron curtain between us and the Warsaw Pact, if that was what they thought was suitable entertainment for children.

They were classic series all. And there were plenty more where they came from. So, what were your fantastical favourites from your childhood days?

14 comments:

Aggy said...

I vaguely remember The Tomorrow People. At least in the sense that it was on but not not enough to actually remember story lines.

Of the classics my earliest Doctor Who was Tom Baker/ Liz Sladen era.

Blakes 7 is a clear memory. I remember getting home from some kind of school function just in time for the first episode. A trailer for the 4th season wss the first thing I ever recorded.

Bbc 1 childrens shows where some of my earliest Sci-Fi/fantasy. Last year I finally got The Box of Delights on DVD. The big advantage of the BBC was they repeated shows again and again.

ITV had the awesome Sapphire & Steel (that Joanna Lumley never ages does she). I still wish the show would be rebooted; S&S finally rescued from the trap the were caught in.

Thursday night was Battlestar Galactica (at least briefly in the post Star Wars era). Saturday had Buck Rogers ( which unfortunately only lasted 1 series (SHUT UP CAN'T HEAR YOU.... LALALALALA)).

Then their was Knight Rider. Street Hawk. Automan. The awesome Manimal (he can change into ANY animal... as long as its the same 4 we've hired for filming). The mostly forgotten Tales of the Gold Monkey.

Gerry Anderson was a fixture on a Saturday morning. Joe 90. Thunderbirds. With Stingray showing in school holidays.

Then came the toy related csrtoon shows. Transformers obviously. Thundercats and He-man too. But also the lesser brands like M.A.S.K. and Jayce & the wheeled warriors.

Plus other cartoons shows fondly remembered (and on my DVD shelves). Ulysees 31. Dogtanian and the 3 Muskahounds. Mysterious Cities of Gold. Super Friends (of various continuities and quality).

I was a big Filmation Studios fan (not that I knew it at the time. And I loved the Buck Rogers cartoon. Such a shame that only lasted one series (I said it ONLY LASTED ONE SERIES... OK?). Oh Buck such a trend in your shows. Don't let them ever do more than one series of your shows....

Steve W. said...

I do miss The Water Margin. All that martial arts - AND Burt Kwouk. What more could you want in a TV show?

cerebus660 said...

For me, of course, the "big" show was Doctor Who... but I won't go on ( and on ) about that now.

I honestly think we were living through a Golden Age of kids' TV fantasy shows back in the '70s. I remember being spooked by The Changes, Ace Of Wands ( remember that? ) and Children Of The Stones - even though I never saw the last episode and to this day don't know how it ended. When I was slightly older I was freaked out by Hammer House Of Horror and Nigel Kneale's Beasts... not to mention that faceless nun in Armchair Theatre...

The Tomorrow People was fun when I was very young, but I doubt if it would look very good today. Sapphire & Steel was a spooky, atmospheric show... and I had a major crush on Joanna Lumley after watching her in the New Avengers. I liked the early episodes of Blake's Seven... before it got too silly for its own good. That grim final episode kind of redeemed it, though. I also loved the first series of Space: 1999. Like Aggy above with Buck Rogers I'm in complete denial that there was a cheap, tacky, Star Trek-aping second series of the show.

Although it's slightly off-topic I also have vivid memories of summer holidays Saturday morning shows. Flash Gordon ( 1930s serials ), Champion The Wonder Horse, White Horses ( what was it with horses in the '70s? ), The Flashing Blade, HR Pufnstuf, The Double Deckers etc. etc.

Wow! That's a lot of memories :-)

Tharg said...

UFO was (and still is) a favourite. Only recently have I heard stories that the late Gerry Anderson planned to a reboot.

Space 1999 deserves a mention but always seemed a bit less fun. Blake's 7 is a classic of course.

I did the "Dr. Who hiding behind the couch" thing. Especially creepy were the Cybermen and the Silurians.

Talking of the lovely Joanna Lumney, The New Avengers deserves a mention. Brilliant opening credits, I've actually been re-watching these lately.

Also The Prisoner. I got to got to Portmeirion a couple of years ago which was of course surreal.

Stateside favourites were CHiPs (despite every episode being the same), Mork and Mindy, The Man from Atlantis and The Incredible Hulk.

Kid said...

I've now got The Singing Ringing Tree on DVD (in full colour yet) and also Robinson Crusoe (in B&W), which was another belter from my childhood. Those were the two that defined the mid-'60s for me, I think.

cerebus660 said...

Spot on, Kid! How could I forget to mention Robinson Crusoe?? Great show with a beautiful theme tune. Classic!

Anonymous said...

Steve, you made me laugh, and that's always a good thing. Thanks, pal.

Steve W. said...

Cerebus, I seem to be the only person alive with no memory at all of Ace of Wands. I wonder what I was watching on the other side when it was on.

I think the finale to Children of the Stones is on Youtube - at least it used to be.

Tharg, I used to hide behind my dad's chair when Dr Who was on, until I realised the living room door was directly behind it, which meant the monsters could burst in through it at any moment and run off with me.

Anonymous, thanks to you too.

Something that does strike me is that a lot of those scary kids' shows were produced by Ruth Boswell - and she doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Is there no justice in the world?

Anonymous said...

Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet on Saturday mornings in the 1960's, and UFO on Saturday evenings in the early 1970's. I never saw Thunderbirds during its original run; most of those shows were syndicated in the US, so their distribution was erratic, and Thunderbirds never aired in our city (until some reruns in the 1990's). I was an adult before I first saw Doctor Who. IIRC, it first appeared on American TV circa 1980, with the Tom Baker series. I had heard of it before, from magazine articles (Famous Monsters of Filmland, Starlog), and the Peter Cushing movies.

Anonymous said...

Tales of the Gold Monkey is mostly forgotten now, along with the equally short-lived Bring 'em Back Alive. Both shows were attempts to emulate Indiana Jones. He-Man and She-Ra seemed to be very popular with kids, until the next fad came along.

Anonymous said...

The most successful 1960's science-fiction shows in the US were probably Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space; the former actually lasted longer than the original Star Trek. (Trek had marginal ratings at the time, and didn't really become all that popular until the 1970s, when the reruns gained a cult following.) I also liked Time Tunnel, although it didn't last long. And I don't know how to describe the Batman fad of 1966. There have been other popular shows, but that series was everywhere. It's been said that the three big pop culture phenomena of the sixties were James Bond, Batman, and the Beatles, and naturally, there were a lot of imitators. One Saturday morning cartoon, The Impossibles, combined all three: rock stars who moonlighted as super heroes and who worked for some sort of secret government agency.

Dougie said...

Glad to see someone else remembers the Impossibles ( and Frankenstein Jr.?)

Just realise the other week that Don Houghton recycled some of the elements of the Doctor Who serial The Mind of Evil for Ace of Wands: Nightmare Gas.

Does anyone else remember Australia's Phoenix Five from around 1970?

Steve W. said...

Dougie, I remember Phoenix 5. It had the grooviest TV music ever.

Anonymous said...

I too remember 'The Changes'. It was far more successful at depicting a post-apocalyptic world than the recent reboot of 'Survivors'!

The 'Nightmare Gas' story in 'Ace Of Wands' really was scary - one episode concluded with Tarot imagining he was being burnt at the stake!

Best wishes, Zokko

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