1 9 7 8 (UK)
1 x 47 minute episode
Tarry-Dan, Tarry-Dan. Scarey old spooky man
Snatches children off the street, for his dog and him to eat
But, catch me if you can
Scarey old spooky man!
The title of this one-off BBC2 ghost story (broadcast on 31 April 1978) refers to a song that the children of a remote Cornish fishing village sing when the local tramp shuffles by them.
No one has ever heard him speak, but now old Tarry-Dan (Paul Curran) seems to have a frightening message for troubled teen Jonah Grattan (Colin Mayes), the school’s toughest tearaway – an “evil toe-rag” as his headmaster (Colin Jeavons) describes him – who spends his time playing truant and smoking ciggies with his ne’er-do-well pals Darra (Michael Deeks), Kenny (Gareth Shiels) and Willie (Simon Gipps-Kent).
Three days before his 16th birthday, Jonah finds himself haunted by mysterious nightmares about a bloody, ancient battle fought near his coastal village.
He is unnerved further when he discovers his own surname – “Grattan” – and the date 1794 carved into the rock inside a local cave.
Jonah learns that his village sits on the site of an ancient city, destroyed in Arthurian times, and the translation of his surname into its original Celtic form – “night guard” – is significant to those myth-enshrouded days.
As the hours tick down to his birthday (and his ascent to adulthood), an agitated Jonah resolves to confront Tarry-Dan in an abandoned church, and it is there his hidden family history and inescapable destiny is revealed.
Scottish playwright Peter McDougall wrote the story – an excellent example of British folk horror.
Filming took place In Port Isaac, North Cornwall – the same town later used as the location for Doc Martin.