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Moondial

1 9 8 8 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes

Araminta ‘Minty’ Cane (Siri Neal) is a rather sulky teenage girl who is taken by her mother (Joanna Dunham) to live with her aunt (Valerie Lush) in Lincolnshire following her father’s death.

Her mother is involved in a car crash and left comatose in the hospital, while Minty attempts to find some sense of normality at Aunt Mary’s.

She finds a beautiful garden at the local manor house (Belton House) with a sundial/moondial in the centre, flanked by statues of Chronos and Eros.

moondial2

When she touches the dial, Minty becomes dizzy and when she recovers she finds she has been transported through time to the late 19th century where she meets Tom (Tony Sands), a sickly and abused servant.

Despite suffering from a nasty case of tuberculosis, Tom exhibits a guttersnipe charm and befriends Minty with ease.

Eventually, the power of the moondial drags them further back in time to the 18th century where they encounter the troubled Sarah (Helena Avellano), a mysterious cloaked child who is in danger.

Blighted by a birthmark which others believe is the mark of the devil, Sarah leads a lonely and terrified existence hidden away deep within Belton House and presided over by the seething cruelty of Miss Vole (Jacqueline Pearce).

Determined to save both Sarah and Tom from their cheerless existences, Minty sets out to bring peace to their lives. But Minty still needs to deal with the present as the stress of her mother’s condition continues to eat away at her and a curiously familiar ghost hunter arrives in the form of Miss Raven (also Jacqueline Pearce).

The series featured extensive location filming in the grounds of Belton House in Lincolnshire and presented fantastical dreamlike imagery. The disconcerting visuals included a gang of rowdy and bloodthirsty children beating and burning a mannequin representing Sarah, Tom coughing up a lungful of blood in a particularly grisly scene, and Sarah being confronted by a young, baying mob all clad in terrifying masks.

The six episodes of Moondial were broadcast in the 5.10 pm slot of the Children’s BBC schedule on Wednesdays. A repeat transmission came two years later in 1990.

Araminta ‘Minty’ Cane
Siri Neal
Tom
Tony Sands
Aunt Mary
Valerie Lush
Old World
Arthur Hewlett
John Benson
Martin Sadler
Sarah
Helena Avellano
Kate
Joanna Dunham
Miss Vole
Jacqueline Pearce