Noah's Castle on DVD

Thursday, 12 November 2009 11:51

Bringing you another ‘lost’ classic from Southern Television’s TV archives, Simply Home Entertainment have released the complete seven part series of Noah's Castle from 1980.

Set in the economic and social decline of Britain at that time, it was a frightening tale of the near future, where the economy had collapsed, the price of things had become subject to hyperinflation, and lawlessness had become rife due to hardship and desperation felt by the mass population.  Ring any bells with what is happening around us today?  The fact that it was commissioned as a children’s series, and the reactions of those who saw it at the time, tell you all that you need to know about television at that time not shying away from socio-economic soothsaying.

Noahs Castle DVDThe Britain of the time had just come out of the ‘winter of discontent’, and we were in the first throes of the Thatcher Conservative Government. There was a genuine feeling that society was about to break down, with riots and double-digit inflation being realities constantly being reported in the news. It was a time of great uncertainty, much as we are going through today.

Noah's Castle is indeed hard-hitting. It follows the Mortimer family and their fight to survive chronic food shortages and the riots of a ruined country.  In a sudden house-move to a mansion in need of restoration in the countryside, the patriarch of the family, Norman Mortimer, strengthens the cellar to hoard food in preparation for the shortages to come.  He does this in secrecy, as he does not want to advertise widely what he is up to for fear of his new home becoming a target for looters. 

Not only that, the authorities soon make it illegal to store large quantities of food, which is frightening in its accuracy of what the State will do in such a situation. However, the idealist kids in his family are unable to grasp the realities of how other people act in such a situation, and soon it’s hard to keep the secret contained.

Once word gets around that the Mortimers may be a little better off in terms of essentials than their surrounding neighbours in the centre of the crisis, they are soon subject to blackmailers and a local criminal named Vince Holloway (played by Eastenders and Runaround stalwart Mike Reid in a very early dramatic performance). They are all plotting to take what they consider should be shared, by those in their ‘inner circle’, that is.

Meanwhile, Mortimer's boss Mr Gerald (character actor Jack May - Count Duckula fans will recognise his voice as being that of Igor) takes advantage of the situation by moving in with the family. In one of the most disturbing sub-plots, Mr Gerald expects the services of the eldest teenage daughter, Nessie in more ways than one! Nessie is played by Annette Eckblom in her debut role – she has gone on to play Leonie Kendall in Holby City.

There’s a couple of early appearances to look out for in the series.  First there is Christopher Fairbank of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fame (he played Albert Moxey) as Cliff. For fans of Grange Hill there’s a very young Lee McDonald (Zammo) as Mel Holloway. There’s also Alun Lewis playing Terry – he would go on to play Darryl Stubbs in Birds of a Feather, and Vic Windsor in Emmerdale.  

This is genuinely a series that is well-executed and worthy of your attention.  Be in no doubt though, it might just make you see the current world around you in a completely different light. Please note that although episode titles were given for the series in the book "The Hill and Beyond - Children's Television Drama - An Encyclopedia" (and noted in the material below), only the episode numbers were given onscreen.

With a running time of 182 minutes, this single DVD presentation the release is from Simply Media, has a ‘PG’ certificate, and the RRP is £12.99, or less from www.cultvstore.com

 

Production Credits

Jake Anthony as Mob Leader

Douglas Blackwell as Butcher

Brian Capron as Rabble Rouser

Christopher Coll as Officer

Annette Ekblom as Nessie Mortimer

Christopher Fairbank as Cliff

Marcus Francis as Geoff Mortimer

Simon Gipps-Kent as Barry Mortimer

Hugh Hastings as The Home Secretary

Pauline Letts as Mrs Smith

Alun Lewis as Terry

Lee Macdonald as Mel Holloway

Jack May as Mr Gerald

David Neal as Mr Norman Mortimer

Louise Olley as Ellen Mortimer

Mike Reid as Vince Holloway

Jean Rimmer as Mrs May Mortimer

Martin Townsend as Blackmarketeer

Denise Van Proosdy as Mrs Johnson

Michèle Winstanley as Wendy

 

Writer: Nick McCarty (from the book by John Rowe Townsend)

Script Editor: Tony McLaren

Music: Jugg Music

Executive Producer: Lewis Rudd

Producer/Director: Colin Nutley

 

Episode Listing

 

01. EPISODE ONE ("The Castle")

Original ITV Transmission: 2 April 1980

 

02. EPISODE TWO ("Unwelcome Visitrs")

Original ITV Transmission: 9 April 1980

 

03. EPISODE THREE ("Spies")

Original ITV Transmission: 16 April 1980

 

04. EPISODE FOUR ("Discoveries and Theats")

Original ITV Transmission: 23 April 1980

 

05. EPISODE FIVE ("Pressure")

Original ITV Transmission: 30 April 1980

 

06. EPISODE SIX ("Departures")

Original ITV Transmission: 7 May 1980

 

07. EPISODE SEVEN ("Conclusions")

Original ITV Transmission: 14 May 1980

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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