1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
20 x 25 minute episodes
“Ghostly shadows of things past and long forgotten . . . magical shadows – thrilling and wonderful . . . silent shadows – grey and mysterious”
The first series of this Thames series for ITV featured ghosts and the supernatural: In ‘The Waiting Room’ Jenny Agutter encountered a fated late-night train from 50 years before; ‘After School’ saw two Welsh schoolboys in detention discovering old mine workings and learning of the hardships of mining life 150 years earlier; and in ‘The Witch’s Bottle’, the spirit of a witch’s daughter who had been burned alive by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, was freed from a hidden bottle.
In contrast, ‘Dutch Schlitz’s Shoes’ was a comedy spin-off, with evil magician Mr Stabs resurrected from noted fantasy series Ace of Wands (1970-72) to meet a ghostly 1920s Chicago gangster.
J.B. Priestley provided ‘The Other Window’, a promising story of a special lens that allowed children to see ghosts from down the ages.
The second series dealt in fantasy and imagination: ‘Time Out of Mind’ by Penelope Lively had a dreamy teenager imagine skivvying below stairs in an Edwardian dolls’ house; Joan Aiken’s ‘The Dark Streets of Kimball’s Green’ saw a little girl believing she could speak to a King of ancient Britain via a vandalised phone box; and ‘The Inheritance’ dealt with a boy contemplating his future and his grandfather’s mortality amid psychedelic Pagan imagery.
The lighter, whimsical third and final series featured the theme of magic: Outright fairytale ‘Silver Apple’ featured magic carpets and enchanted forests, while dark comedies included Joan Aiken’s ‘The Rose of Puddle Fratrum’, which featured a cursed ballet production, and ‘The Man Who Hated Children’ where a curmudgeon was transformed into a tree by Peter Pan.
Far darker was P.J. Hammond’s morality tale ‘And For My Next Trick …’ with a luckless children’s entertainer tempted by the discovery of three bewitched eggs. Arthurian tale ‘The Boy Merlin’ spun off into its own series in 1979.
Another spin-off was the virtual sequel, Spooky (ITV, 1983) overseen by Shadows‘ producer Pamela Lonsdale.
The Future Ghost | After School | The Witch’s Bottle | The Waiting Room | Optical Illusion | Dutch Schlitz’s Shoes | The Other Window || The Dark Streets of Kimballs Green | Time Out of Mind | The Inheritance | Dark Encounter | Peronik | The Eye || Eleven O’Clock | The Rose of Puddle Fratrum | And For My Next Trick . . . | The Boy Merlin | The Man Who Hated Children | The Silver Apple | Honeyann