UK tv series (1975). BBC TV. Produced by Anna Home. Directed by John Prowse. Cast includes Rafiq Anwar, Keith Ashton, Reggae Ranjhe, Jack Watson, Victoria Williams and Marc Zuber. Teleplay by Peter Dickinson, from his Changes novels, and Anna Home. One season of ten 15-minute episodes. Colour.
Nicky Gore (Williams) is an ordinary English teenager in an ordinary English household, doing her homework. Suddenly her family begins to destroy all the electrical appliances in the house. Nicky soon discovers that this apparent mania seems to be universal, caused by the mysterious emanation of a weird high-pitched sound from all Machines, a compulsive sound to which she is immune. Chaos ensues. Nicky is separated from her parents, joins a band of similarly immune Sikhs (see Race in SF), and traverses an increasingly desperate and dangerous countryside, where because of her immunity she is eventually hunted as a witch, imprisoned, and sentenced to death; but escapes. The portrayal of an England reverting to pre-industrial conditions, with a mind-controlled populace destroying all vestiges of high Technology at the behest of an unseen enemy, is vividly conveyed. This enemy turns out to be a Drug-addled Merlin, awake after centuries of Suspended Animation, and panicked by what has become of the world. To a degree, he stands as a comment on an embittered, post-Imperial Britain [for Matter and Merlin see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; significantly, it turns out that only those of Anglo-Saxon birth can be infected with the compulsion to destroy machines. Thematically unconnected to the Merlin revelation, which comes very late in the action, analogues to Cold War Paranoia can be detected. Most of the series was shot on location. [JC]
Previous versions of this entry