1 9 9 4 (UK)
5 x 25 minute episodes
On a desolate North Yorkshire moorland hillside containing a curious collection of ancient standing stones, schoolboys Keith Heseltine (Chris Downs) and David Wix (Paul Nicholls) are investigating an ominous subterranean drumming sound which has been troubling Keith.
Tracking the sound to a rock face jutting out of a hillside, Keith and David’s understanding of the physical and spiritual world is turned upside down when the rock face opens up and out marches 18th-century drummer boy Nellie Jack John (Bryan Dick).
Carrying an everlasting – yet strangely cold – candle, Nellie Jack John reveals that only minutes earlier he had entered the hillside in search of King Arthur’s ancient treasure.
Refusing to believe Keith and David’s protestations that the year is 1993, Nellie Jack John marches back into the hillside – but life is about to become even stranger for Keith and David.
A mysterious spirit known as a “boggart” is creating havoc at a local cottage, herds of pigs are going missing, standing stones are mysteriously moving – and David is snatched up in a bright flash of light and disappears underground in front of Keith.
The locals – including David’s dad, Dr Wix (David Hargreaves) – put his disappearance down to a devastating lightning accident, but Keith knows that the most obvious answer is no longer the simplest one.
As Keith slowly starts to succumb to the power of Nellie Jack John’s discarded candle, reality becomes highly distorted as Arthurian legends start manifesting in the real world and Keith faces a real struggle to rescue David.
This short BBC1 series was based on a 1966 children’s book by William Mayne and aired on Wednesday afternoons at 5.10pm. It was then repeated on Sunday mornings.
Aunt Eileen Watson
Uncle Frank Watson
Nellie Jack John