Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The blogger who invaded Rockall

Well, not quite, but The Skipper does record his part in strengthening Britain's hold over the rock by setting up a navigation beacon on top of it:

I'm pleased to say the expedition went swimmingly and the beacon was erected courtesy of heroic Royal Marines lowered from a Sea-King helicopter. The next morning, still swelled with pride having watched the event as first item on the BBC six o'clock news, the DTI lighthouse department rang to ask me the date of the expedition to be run the following year. Knowing how the navy chiefs had grumbled like mad, even to do this job, I replied with cries of laughter before asking why such a fantasy event was needed in any case? The beacon, was, after all, established.

'Yes' said the DTI man, 'but how else are you going to change the batteries?

'Batteries?' I yelped, what's all this about batteries?'

'Well, Rockall is a bit too far away to be joined up to the National Grid, you know.'

'Oh I see, yes, well, I'll get back to you on this one.'

The above conversation was repeated several times, complete with pauses and yelps, at various levels in the MOD before it was time for me to leave and work in another section. I later heard that a form of words had been concocted to 'deal with the situation' but I never did find out if those batteries are changed regularly.

I had intended to illustrate this posting with the dustwrapper from T. H. White's The Master which was set on Rockall. I could not find it on the web, but I did find something far better.

It turns out that in 1966 the book was turned into a serial and broadcast by Southern Television. It starred John Laurie, George Baker and Adrienne Posta.

According to Television Heaven:

it was the first venture for the company into the world of children's drama and kick-started a hugely successful 15-year run of tea-time adventure serials. Southern had so much confidence in the series that they invested a huge £6,000 per episode and introduced it with a full colour feature in the TV Times.

It paid off, and proved a pivotal moment in children's television, mixing elements of standard adventure with James Bond type villains and science fiction.

No comments: