Thursday, February 09, 2023

More on Southern TV's adaptation of T.H. White's The Master

Last summer I found some cuttings from TV Times about the dramatisation of T.H. White's children's book The Master that Southern Television broadcast in 1966.

Now I've found a page about the series on Nostalgia Central.

This describes The Master as "Southern TV’s most prestigious children’s drama of the 1960s - perhaps ever" and reports that:

Southern had so much confidence in the series that they invested a huge £6,000 pounds 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.

And Nostalgia Central salutes the ambition of the drama:

it assumed a certain IQ on behalf of its audience, not least whether they could understand the philosophical conundrum which eventually faced the junior adventurers Nicky and Judy: should The Master be murdered for the greater good?

That is a very T.H. White question - the sort Merlyn might have tested Arthur with in The Sword in the Stone or The Book of Merlyn. This makes it all the sadder that The Master is missing believed wiped. 

I looked up the contemporary reviews in the British Newspaper Archive, which proved equally complimentary.

The reviewers of Mystery Hall, another Southern children's series and one I think I remember watching, aged seven, when it was broadcast the year after The Master, were less impressed. But they did mentions secret passages, which are about my strongest memory of whichever series it was.

OK, so secret passages are to be expected from children's adventure stories set in mysterious seaside buildings, but it increases my confidence that I have identified this memory correctly.

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