Sunday, July 28, 2019

Over Sea, Under Stone was dramatised in 1969

Yesterday I tweeted a list of television programmes that only I seem to remember:
It was a little exaggerated - there is a comment on this blog from the man who wrote the music for Gophers! - but largely true.

In reply, the novelist Jonathan Coe told me he remembered both Well Anyway and Adventure Weekly.

The former was a situation comedy with John Bird and John Fortune from 1976 - years after their fame in the original satire boom and more years before their rediscovery when they appeared with Rory Bremner.

The latter was a serial for children, shown on BBC1 at teatime in 1968 and 1969. In it a gang of children ran their own newspaper and I think it has links with the better remembered Here Come the Double Deckers.

But the programme that got most attention was one that no one else remembered: Over Sea, Under Stone.

This is the first book in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, but is very different in tone from the rest of the series. It starts as a children's holiday adventure of the Blyton or Saville variety, but later takes a supernatural turn.

And it really was dramatised by the BBC in 1969. Although it was, as far as I recall, a fully acted production, it was screened under the Jackanory brand. This was a show which otherwise featured an adult reading its young audience a story.

On Twitter, Matthew Kilburn said it was screened at a time when the BBC children's department wasn't meant to do drama, so badging it as Jackanory was a way of smuggling it past the suits.

Over Sea, Under Stone is on IMDB, but there is no entry for the series as a whole - here is the link for part 1.

The cast is notable, containing both Graham Crowden and Colin Jeavons. David Wood, recently in If...., is credited as "Storyteller", so maybe there was a gesture towards Jackanory's usual format before the drama broke out.

Of the children, only Roland Pickering who played Barney had much of a career as a child actor.

I have never heard anyone else mention this dramatisation and I fear the tapes were long ago wiped.

1 comment:

Louise Shelley said...

I remember over sea, under stone, and have been searching for a reference for years. Thank u so much for posting this. I think it was shown twice. I can always remember the end sequence where a chalice is thrown in the sea.