Welcome to DJK's Fantasy World where I'll be building different models for table top role play games and discussing my writing, including my novels based on the very first fantasy character I played. The models are made from recycled materials where possible, although various commercially purchased products will also be used and discussed.
I'll also throw in the occasional book and theatre reviews, you can't beat live performance. Plus my Dr Who tapestry progress.
Thursday, 20 August 2015
This post jumps aboard the time ship and travels back to
1975 before jumping forward to 1979.
So what happened in 1975 and why this
Me, Mum & Auntie Darkie, July 1975
There’s no great weather report to speak of, the hot summer of the 1970s
that gets mentioned by those of a certain age is a year later, 1976. If you
want a list of events for 1975 then try Wikipedia although nothing jumped out
at me when I took a quick scan through the list. Maybe a couple of interesting
birthdays might pop up. In Doctor Who Tom Baker was already the
Doctor, having débuted in the first episode of “Robot” a few days before the start
of the year. So why this trip back in time?
Oh by the way, this was me back in
The reason is because Big Finish has recently released a
couple of audio drama box sets based on a couple of other TV series from back
then. Their second series of new stories
for Survivorsand the first of a series for The
Omega Factorhave had me gripped to my CD player.
Their releases for both series begin with an audio book
reading of the original novels written by the two show’s creators. In the case
this was Terry Nation, he of the Daleks fame who would later go on to create Blake’s
7, and for The Omega Factor, Jack Gerson. Both audio books are read
stunningly by the show’s original female leads, Carolyn Seymour and Louise
Jameson. These stories really pulled me
in and made me eager to not only move on to the new audio drama ranges but to
seek out those original TV episodes on DVD. These dramas were designed for adults, and as
you can see from the photo above I was certainly not old enough to be allowed
to stay up and watch. Whilst shopping for these I did discover a DVD release of
a children’s series I remembered from then, one which I will admit, at the
time, certainly freaked me out. More on
Having listened to the original books then watching the
programmes I found they differed in many ways, so the audio readings are
certainly worth a listen if only to gather what the show’s original creators
saw as their direction for their creations.
The first two box sets from Big Finish have brought back the
original leads from the first series of the show and introduce new survivors in
the same way as the show often did. Carolyn Seymour departed from the original
show after the first series, but is now back giving Abby a new lease of life.
The TV series ran for three years on the BBC, from 1975 to 1977 and having
watched all three series back to back it did feel like it began to run out of
steam. It must be noted that Terry Nation only ever wrote for the first series
of the TV programme.
After the survivors had faced the great plague that had
wiped out around ninety percent of the population and had gone on to face the
worst of human kind could offer that the BBC would dare to feature back then
there really was not a lot of direction for the series to go. In their second
series Big Finish have been a lot braver in their material, maybe this is
because we live in more enlightened times. The series is certainly a lot darker
and as such I would say more believable than the later offerings of the
The Omega Factor
This series launched on the BBC in 1979 and promptly ended
after one series. Which was a bloody shame. It fell at the wrath of Mary
Whitehouse, the self appointed moral guidance councillor that oversaw all that
was broadcast. The DVD release today actually makes a point of noting on the
cover that she described it ‘Thoroughly evil’.
There was nothing evil about it. The only thing it could be accused of
was being ahead of its time. Having
watched the series today, with one special effect not quite up to scratch the
rest of the series could easily still be aired today as a supernatural
investigation drama set in the late 70s. When Journalist Tom Crane (James
Hazeldine) discovers he has psychic powers he is recruited by Department 7 and
finds himself working alongside Doctor Anne Reynolds (Louise Jameson). The
stories keep a very open approach to their subject matter, not everything is
unexplained and not everything is as it seems, plus with a darker thriller
aspect on top.
The Big Finish version, unlike Survivors which is set in and
around the events of the original TV series, this picks up three decades later.
Anne Reynolds once again played splendidly by Louise Jameson is contacted by
the son of the recently departed Tom Crane. When Adam Crane (John Dorney) ,
contacts Anne he finds himself drawn into the problems of Department 7 and the
reawakening of many dangers for the team. Again this series is not aimed at
younger listeners and certainly appeals to the darker side of many of its
listeners. John and Louise make an excellent team, long may this series run,
and having heard both John and Louise’s scripts for other Big Finish ranges I would
hope they would both be persuaded to contribute to future releases in this
And finally on to the last of the throwback DVDs I recently purchased.
This is reported in the supporting booklet as being, “the oldest surviving BBC
science fiction TV serial developed and scheduled exclusively for children.”
Produced in 1975 it dramatised the three Peter Dickinson young adult novels, The Weathermonger (1969), Heartsease (1969) and The Devil’s Children (1970). Now that
young me shown at the start of this post watched the series, or some of it, back
in 1975 and was freaked out by it. I carried with me for some time a mental
image of the electricity pylons and a strange sound that was associated with
them. I have a feeling that maybe I did not watch the whole series. Watching
this back now, obviously I’m not going to have the same reaction to it,
although I was able to pick out the scenes from two of the episodes that fixed
those memories for me.
However, unlike the two other shows I watched, this one
released by the BFI rather than the BBC on DVD does not stand the test of time
so well. Whether this is because it is a children’s production, or the story which felt patchy and inconsistent, or the fact that the release felt
the need to apologise for not being 100% politically correct in every episode -
I don’t know. We know a lot of TV back
then would fail that test; we have to accept that as historical fact, learn
from it and move on rather than dwell on it. It is hard to put my finger on
what exactly grated but something certainly did. The premise was another
society in meltdown, but the cause, despite the final episode, for me is never
satisfactory explained. After a freak weather pattern, you could not even call it a
storm, society goes mad and smashes up all machinery and declares it as ‘wicked’.
Nicky Gore is separated from her parents as they try to escape England for
France, in a crowd of about ten people and sets out on her own journey to try
and find them. Very quickly she changes
her mind and begins her own crusade to try and find out what caused this break
up of society’s sanity in the first place.