Monday, 20 October 2014

70s children's TV: raven - oi, leave it out, I'm arfur

1977. Punk's hitting the mainstream, hippie psychedelia has become new age astrology-fuelled environmentalism and British children's TV drama has already introduced a generation to the clash of mystical ancient forces and modern technological progress in the likes of The Owl Service, The Changes and Children of the Stones. 

Cue Raven, a six-part series by the writers of Children of the Stones - Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray - that mixes Arthurian legend, government nuclear plans, spirit guides, scientists, psychic visions and a battle between a teenager and authority figures that goes centuries beyond the pop culture generation gap. 

A pre-Quadrophenia Phil Daniels stars as the titular hero, 15-year-old Raven, a denim-clad London Borstal Boy on probation in the countryside who discovers his true destiny as the reincarnation of King Arthur (just go with it), helping a Merlin-like grumpy archeologist stop a nuclear waste reprocessing plant being built on top of an underground labyrinth of caves. Phew. 

The whole thing's given a touch of The Stone Tape, with flashes of timeslip hallucinatory visuals, eerie sound effects and the archaeologist's use of CCTV, and the CCTV also neatly adds an Orwellian dimension to the sense of unseen forces that watch over us. Can't beat seeing Carry On regular Patsy Rowlands completely out of context either, as the archeologist's lovely wife and unlikely expert on birds. It's a bit of a treasure.

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