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Escape into night TV series
Aldridge, Walsall, WS9, West Midlands .
Filmed on location at Barr Beacon, Aldridge in 1972
Aldridge website has copies of this DVD, please Contact us to order a copy @ � 14.99 with free delivery
This TV series was broadcast between 19 April 1972 and 24 May 1972 for just one season with 6 episodes of 25 minutes, which were thought to have been lost forever are now available on DVD.
This was a ground breaking TV production by ATV, produced by Alan Coleman because it was the first outside broadcast, which required ATV to set up lorries, crews, cabling and a large "set" of the house made of timber and scaffolding designed by Don Davidson on top of Barr Beacon using the tree enclosure next to the war memorial.
In addition to pioneering outside broadcasting 10 years ahead of the TV industry, the series was also a landmark point for childrens TV because of the aduly story line, which terrified its viewers, but has made the series even more compelling over the years.
In 1972 both my brother and myself watched the TV series being filmed on Barr Beacon, and at 10 and 11 years old respectively, we can claim to be the youngest and first outside broadcast catering provider....well, we served tea and biscuits to the production crew !
The script was by Ruth Boswell based on the novel "Marianne Dreams" by Catherine Storr.
Director: Richard Brammall
Even today there remains a great deal of interest in this TV series which the producer Alan Coleman has expressed an interest in calling for anybody with copies on tape or DVD to come forward in the hope that this can be released again on DVD from pieces collected by fans of the series. Escape into night is remembered very well by many people who first saw it on television as young and very frightened children and is now described as one of the most genuinely terrifying children's TV shows ever made, one probably responsible for the emotional scarring of an entire generation. The creeping living rocks with their single eyes are bad enough, but the blind and deranged father that eventually turns up was enough to send any susceptible child screaming in terror. The kind of TV shows that are sadly no longer made, Escape Into Night never talked down to its target audience and treated them with a respect sadly lacking in subsequent children's television drama.
Dates of the TV series:
A young girl, Marianne, is bedridden after a riding accident for several weeks. To entertain herself, she begins to draw an imaginary place in a sketchpad. At night, she dreams of being in the drawing, and as the days and weeks go by, she eventually adds a house. She sees a boy looking out of a top window, but cannot reach him until she draws a stairway. The is a boy named Mark, who is parlysed. A friendship developes between the two. Marianne learns from her visiting tutor, Miss Maynard, that Mark is real, and seriously ill with polio though, the two never meet except in their dreams. Whatever Marianne draws cannot be erased and after an argument with Mark she draws living, menacing rocks with eyes around the house. The rocks, called Watchers, slowly begin to close in on the house and Mark and Marianne realise they must escape the house before their dreams end. However Mark is seriously weakened and unable to escape past the menacing rocks until Marianne on waking is able to draw a bicycle.
Marianne was portrayed by Birmingham born newcomer Vikki Chambers who would later become a presenter on BBC Radio Birmingham. The character of Mark was played by another newcomer Steven Jones. The adult cast consisted of veteran actress Sonia Graham, who had appeared in Compact and The Changes, as Mrs Austen and Patricia Maynard (later a partner of Dennis Waterman) as Miss Chesterfield. Boswell had pitched the idea of adapting the book to Alan Coleman when he was first appointed as Head of Children's Drama at ATV in 1971. He was quick to snap up the proposal and suggested Richard Bramall as director.
A film version materialised in 1988 under the name of Paperhouse directed by Bernard Rose with Charlotte Burke in the role of Marianne. The film lacked the appealing darkness and unearthliness of the TV version, though the bigger budget did enable the ending involving a helicopter and a lighthouse to be more fully realised. The TV series had all this action take place off screen.
All six episodes exist as black and white film, though the series was made in colour, and although a video or DVD is highly unlikely, the surreal complex story and truly scarey imagery (the cliff hanger ending with a zoom in on the hissing, living rocks springs particularly to mind) have ensured that viewers who caught it on the original transmission have been left indeliable impressions and memories of the series.
Now available in black and white only DVD
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© Copyright Alan Neath. 2005 - All Rights Reserved
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