1 9 7 5 (UK)
10 x 25 minute episodes
One of the most ambitious series produced by the BBC Children’s Drama Department, The Changes was adapted from Peter Dickinson’s trilogy of novels set in future Britain and took the character of Nicky Gore (from the third novel, The Devil’s Children) and made her central to the storyline.
In the first episode, Nicky’s father appears to go mad, smashing up the TV on hearing an ear-piercing noise. The family are all affected, wrecking all electrical and mechanical items in the home.
This is repeated in homes all over Britain while at the same time earthquakes and tidal waves hit the country.
The Gores pack up and head for France where it is believed the Noise has no effect, but on the way, Nicky becomes separated from her parents. She returns home but soon finds that sickness is spreading through her neighbourhood as the water becomes affected.
Nicky (Victoria Williams) joins up with a band of travelling Sikhs who are unaffected by the Noise (as is Nicky). They are targetted by stone-throwing thugs as they pass from town to town but manage to escape, eventually settling at an abandoned farm.
A group of bandits attack the nearby village, taking the local children hostage but they are rescued in a pitched battle with the Sikhs who earn the villagers’ respect.
Nicky decides to move on and find her aunt somewhere in the Cotswolds but she is taken by Davey Gordon (David Garfield) – the self-appointed head of a village – who claims that she is a witch.
She is tried and found guilty and sentenced to be stoned to death but is rescued in time by Jonathon (Keith Ashton).
Together they flee to Jonathon’s barge, Heartsease, and set sail up the canal, aiming for the sea and France.
When the barge is destroyed by lightning they continue on foot, trying to find the source of the Noise.
They stumble across a madman called Furbelow (Oscar Quitak) who claims that he can’t control the power that he has awoken. He has a journal which is hidden in a recently excavated cavern and Nicky finds it and deciphers the words written inside which say ‘I am Merlin . . . whoever touches me unbalances the world.’
In the cavern is a monolithic rock which Nicky is able to converse with and she pleads with the power within the rock for the balance between nature and man-made machines to be restored. The force agrees and allows man to retake control of his destiny.
Before long, traffic has returned to the streets of Britain.
The Changes was broadcast in ten parts every Monday from 6 January to 10 March 1975. The series was shot in Bristol, the Forest of Dean and Sharpness.
Nicola ‘Nicky’ Gore
The Noise | The Bad Wires | The Devil’s Children | Hostages! | Witchcraft! | A Pile of Stones | Heartsease | Lightning! | The Quarry | The Cavern