1 9 7 8 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Concert pianist and conductor Timothy Clare (Sebastian Breaks), his wife Sheila (Ingrid Hafner), daughter Jenny (Amanda Kirby) and two sons Steven (Joshua Le Touzel) and Ben (Robert Morgan) move into an old house in the Clifton area of Bristol which they have purchased from the elderly Mrs Betterton, after the house has been in her family for generations.
Timothy buys a picture of a dragoon on horseback and Steven a tarnished dragoon helmet from a sale of the house’s contents. Mrs Betterton’s grand-daughter Emily gives Jenny an old music box.
While exploring the garden, Steven and Ben notice that the house has an extra window, and deduce that a hidden room may exist.
After breaking through an upstairs wall and discovering an ancient dusty bedroom, a long-dead skeleton is found in the four-poster bed.
Strange events start to occur: the music box summons the ghost of an old lady; a ghostly face appears under the dragoon’s helmet; Timothy is forced to play the tune of the music box on the piano . . .
After a disastrous dinner party in which the guests are subjected to blood dripping from the ceiling and onto the face of a dinner guest and various other poltergeist activities, the two boys consult a ghost-hunter, Milton Guest (Peter Sallis).
The series then presents an exorcism as the most natural thing in the world to appear on children’s TV, and the sequence where Guest orders the restless spirits to depart is certainly a highlight.
The Clifton House Mystery is essentially a horror movie for those who would never be allowed to stay up late to see them on TV. Made on a very small budget, the series was filmed almost entirely in HTV West’s Bristol studios on videotape.
Joshua Le Touzel