Sunday, February 20, 2011


Shadows is a TV program from ITV in the UK that I saw, at most, a few times as a kid around 1975-1976 (so I was age 9 or 10). I loved, and still love, shows dealing with supernatural themes, although it's different seeing them as a child as your world view and experience is, well, different. I can really only recall 1 episode of Shadows, and actually only 1 moment of it, a black and white image of a school and some schoolchildren and some spookiness going on. I know, it's not much, but sometimes even a small memory like that can hold a strong resonance. I also recall the quivering letters used to title the show. And my memory of it is all in black and white and grainy, which would have been the TV set we had at the time, but appropriate for this show.

I was thrilled to learn that the great Network DVD company from the UK has released a volume of Shadows. I'm also a little relieved to find it still exists as so many of the programs from that time were sadly wiped. Anyone interested in cult TV shows from the UK should check out the ever expanding Network catalogue  - this link is to the "Cult Kids" page, but there's plenty more to check out including many of my favourite spy shows from the '60s & '70s.

I ordered a copy of Shadows which arrived recently. The first thing I noticed is that the series was made in colour, which was a surprise, and I also found the episode I had hazy memories of. It concerns two Welsh schoolboys who are waiting alone in the school careers room for their Sportsmaster/Careers teacher (played by Blake from Blakes 7 - Gareth Thomas) after their detention. Their teacher doesn't turn up, but something else does (no spoilers now).

I've since watched 2 more episodes, one about a nurse in Victorian times being haunted by a ghost - from the future - and the an odd one about a haunted tree and a young girl possesed by witchcraft. I'm pleased to say that Shadows more than lived up to my expectations; better than really. Interesting story, good child actors and quite spooky in its way, production values are also much better than you might expect for a '70s made for TV and made for kids show.The production is largely filmed on sets, but the sets are often quite elaborate.

These type of kids supernatural shows - The Tomorrow People, Doctor Who, Children Of The Stones, The Owl Service, Sky etc...  - are probably a little too low-key in style to be made for contemporary audiences, and that's a shame. Some of the current day versions do a good job at updating the same feeling - The Sarah Jane Adventures comes to mind, but I haven't seen any recent kids shows that have a comparable eerie atmosphere as this; an indefinable otherworldy-ness. Being scared by afternoon TV programs was always such fun to me as as child, I'm not sure today's children get to experience that.