Dark Season and Century Falls: looking back at Russell T Davies' children's dramas

Alex Westthorp Jan 23, 2017

We revisit Dark Season and Century Falls, two children's dramas that established Russell T. Davies' early screenwriting career...

Russell T. Davies, a man synonymous with the successful revival of Doctor Who, was initially a graphic artist for Why Don't You? but he did several jobs on the show, eventually writing, directing and producing the programme. He showed his versatility when he presented an edition of Play School in its final year. Saturday morning summer filler On The Waterfront made its reputation in part due to Davies' own unique take on the classic serial The Flashing Blade. Next came Breakfast Serials, which Davies both wrote and produced. When Tony Robinson decided to take a break from making Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, an afternoon drama slot opened up and Rtd's first major breakthrough in Children's television drama began with the 1991 science fiction thriller Dark Season.

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Spooky and magical 80s kids' TV dramas: 1980-84

Alex Westthorp Sep 14, 2016

Did fantasy dramas Chocky, The Box Of Delights and Dramarama leave an impression on you as a kid? Revisit those nightmares here...

Spooky, always magical and occasionally downright scary dramas are the bedrock of kids' television. For me, the pinnacle of this sort of programme was reached in the 1980s. The decade saw a new approach to both traditional and contemporary drama by both UK broadcasters: ITV committed itself to regular seasons of children's plays with Dramarama (1983-89), a kind of youth version of the venerable BBC Play For Today (1970-84), which saw the 1988 television debut of one David Tennant. The BBC, building upon an impressive body of work from the early 70s onwards, produced some of its very best family drama in this era, embracing cutting edge technology to bring treats like The Box Of Delights (1984) and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (1988) to the screen.
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DVD Review: 'The Changes'

  • CineVue
★★☆☆☆The BFI's admirable commitment to preserving classic items from the British film and television industry's past brings this DVD release of The Changes, a TV serial from 1975. Based on a series of books by Peter Dickinson, adapted by Anna Home and directed by John Prowse, The Changes explores a vision of 1970s Britain shorn of modern conveniences. After a sudden strange noise causes everyone to smash up all technology, society collapses to the point that...well, actually, outside of the emptying of the cities, not all that much seems different. Given the premise of the series you might be surprised by how often the protagonist finds old men in flat caps drinking pints of ale in the sunshine outside pubs.
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Play School celebrates 50th anniversary, announces exhibition

Iconic children's programme Play School celebrates its 50th anniversary today (April 21).

The show launched on April 21, 1964 and is noted for being the first programme to air on BBC Two.

Play School ran for 24 years until 1988 and was fronted by presenters including Brian Cant, Carol Chell, Johnny Ball, Derek Griffiths and Floella Benjamin.

The programme celebrated landmarks such as becoming the first children's programme broadcast in colour on BBC Two in 1968, and became the first children's show in the UK to feature a black host when Paul Danquah joined the team in 1965.

To mark half a century since the show's launch, Play School will be part of a special exhibition commemorating Children's BBC called 'Here's One We Made Earlier', which is due to open in July at The Lowry in Manchester.

The Children's Media Foundation are also supporting a special reunion of people who worked on the show.

Former head of
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Looking back at The Baker Street Boys

Feature Alex Westthorp 19 Feb 2014 - 07:00

Nostalgia ahoy! With Sherlock Holmes more popular than ever, Alex looks back at eighties children's drama, The Baker Street Boys...

The BBC's contemporary take on Arthur Conan Doyle's short stories has made Sherlock the most popular television drama series in many years. Benedict Cumberbatch has made Sherlock his own, his approach to the role as radical for the current era as the late, great Jeremy Brett's was a generation ago. Martin Freeman has banished our memories of his role as Tim Canterbury in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's The Office, with his wonderful re-assessment of Dr John Watson. The corporation is making the most of the Conan Doyle franchise. After from two rather lacklustre yuletide cases, firstly with Richard Roxburgh in 2002 then Rupert Everett in 2004; they finally have a hit on their hands. The benchmark hitherto has always been Granada Television
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Children's films that gave stars their big break are set to return

Sadie Frost, Gary Kemp, Phil Collins – they all started out in movies from the Children's Film Foundation

A forgotten catalogue of hundreds of British children's films, all shot in the school holidays from the 1950s to 1980s, is to be re-released after lying dormant while many of their young stars rose to fame.

Performers such as Phil Collins, Michael Crawford, Leslie Ash, Susan George, Sadie Frost and Gary Kemp all got their first screen work in Children's Film Foundation features, which entertained the nation's youth at Saturday morning cinema screenings. The British Film Institute has announced that it will be releasing the entire catalogue and screening many of the best features at special events which are sure to attract nostalgic fans and social historians.

"The early black-and-white films from the 1950s were rather middle-class and wholesome, so you can imagine the children throwing their ice cream tubs at the screen back then,
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Stephen Fry's Bafta speech

Read the full text of Stephen Fry's 2010 annual television lecture

Oh ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. I don't know what source John uses. It was a temporary blip. I have 370,000 more followers than Sarah Brown as of this morning but I wish her well. My lords, ladies, honoured guests, dears and darlings, it's an extraordinary honour to be asked to deliver this BAFTA lecture. Honours of course are responsibilities. They can be poisoned chalices, they can be vulnerable hostages to a malicious fortune. After all, there is really no greater honour on earth than being asked to keep goal for England.

There is as far as I know no profession in this country that likes to talk about itself more than broadcasting. Over the past few years I've been asked if I might consider contributing to talks, lectures, speeches, panels and other debates, disquisitions, discourses, diatribes and discussions all over the country.
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