Owl Service on DVD

Sunday, 27 April 2008 05:29

Classic book adapation is a hoot on DVD…

Network has released THE OWL SERVICE – THE COMPLETE SERIES, the definitive adaptation of Alan Garner’s award-winning novel, available on DVD for the first time. All eight episodes appear complete and uncut in this two-disc set. This was the first full-scripted programme made in colour by Granada Television.

Shot almost entirely on location in the Welsh valleys in the summer of 1969, with the episodes transferred from the original film elements in this release, THE OWL SERVICE perfectly combines history, myth, mystery and adventure surrounding a tense set of human relationships.

Owl Service on DVDThis drama raised the bar for what the viewing public could expect of a teenage-orientated show, delving into the supernatural and addressing topical themes such as class division, with bold direction from Peter Plummer and excellent performances from a cast of largely unknowns.

Alison (Gillian Hills) and her brother Roger (Francis Williams) spend the family summer holiday in a remote cottage in the Welsh countryside. After hearing a scratching noise in the attic, Alison discovers some old dinner plates which have a strange floral pattern. When she traces the design onto paper, the flowers turn into owls. What is the connection between the plates, the gardener, the angry housekeeper and the legend of a village magician? Discover the weird power of the valley as the legend begins to unfold...

Special features on the set include a booklet with contributions from Kim Newman and Chris Lynch, an Image gallery, and an archive interview with Alan Garner from the series Celebration

The RRP is £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com - with a running time of approx 500 minutes.


Episode One

Alison and Roger are step-brother and sister. Their parents have recently married and they are on a family holiday in Wales. Nancy and her son Gwyn and Huw Halfbacon the gardener, are keeping house for them. One evening Alison hears a curious scratching sound coming from the loft - Gwyn goes to investigate and finds an old dinner service half-covered by straw and dust. The plates have a strange floral pattern on them which Alison traces and discovers that she can turn the flowers into paper owls. She becomes more and more obsessed with them - gradually the weird power of the valley and the legend begins to unfold...

Original ITV Transmission: 21 December 1969.

Episode Two

At night Roger hears noises coming from Alison's bedroom and so he investigates. Moaning in her sleep, Alison suddenly reaches out and scratches Roger's face. Something is going on and nobody knows quite what it is. One thing is certain it isn't just their imagination. Gradually, everybody in the house is becoming involved in the mystery.

Original ITV Transmission: 28 December 1969.

Episode Three

Gwyn and Alison are reading The Mabinogion. Gwyn explains the ancient legend of Blodeuwedd and the Stone of Gronw. Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers as a wife for the hero, Lleu, but was turned into an owl after she had been unfaithful with a man called Gronw. Huw thinks there might be a connection between the plates and the legend. Bored by it all, Roger goes off to the billiard room to see his father. They hear plaster fall off the walls. They look closer and find a strange picture painted on the wall, hidden beneath the plaster. A picture of a woman...

Original ITV Transmission: 4 January 1970.

Episode Four

Alison has hidden the plates from which she copies the owl pattern so no-one else can find them... The gardener, old Huw Halfbacon thinks there might be some connection between the dinner service Alison has found and the ancient legend of Blodeuwedd and the Stone of Gronw. Gwyn follows Alison to her special little house in the garden, where she has hidden the plates. She tells Gwyn that she cannot stop making paper owls. Gwyn warns Huw that if he doesn't stop acting like an idiot he will get the sack. Huw tries to explain the power of the valley which is possessing Alison, Roger and Gwyn. Suddenly Huw seems to go quite mad as he releases a lifetime's resentment in asserting his identity with the valley.

Original ITV Transmission: 11 January 1970.

Episode Five

Roger thinks he might have photographed a ghost from an old legend connected with the house. Nancy is very bitter about the injustices which prevented her from marrying Bertram, a former owner of the house. She accuses Margaret of having set fire to Bertram's stables out of jealousy. Huw feels that Gwyn, Alison and Roger may be re-enacting the tragedy of the old legend and that all three are becoming possessed. Margaret has told Alison that she must have nothing more to do with Gwyn, but while Alison is out on the mountain, she sees Gwyn and they walk together. Unknown to both of them, Margaret has been watching through Roger's binoculars.

Original ITV Transmission: 18 January 1970.

Episode Six

Just before Bertram was killed in a motor-bike accident, he had given Nancy a dinner service which Alison and Gwyn have found in the loft. Alison and Gwyn have arranged to meet secretly in the stables. Roger is trying to persuade Clive to cut the holiday short. Alison hears strange noises coming from one of the locked outhouses. Huw claims that somebody threw the key in the river years ago...

Original ITV Transmission: 25 January 1970.

Episode Seven

Gwyn thinks the mysterious Huw the gardener knows much more about the accident than he admits. When Clive asks Nancy about the key to one of the locked out-houses, she turns on him and says she leaving. Panic-stricken, Gwyn storms blindly through the house, stealing food, clothes and money. He sets off up the mountain, determined to leave the valley behind him for good.

Original ITV Transmission: 1 February 1970.

Episode Eight

Gwyn now knows it was the half-mad gardener Huw Halfbacon who killed Betram, by taking the brake-blocks from Bertram's motorbike so he crashed to his death in the pass. Huw Halfbacon tells Gwyn that he is really his father and that many years ago he was in love with Nancy as was Bertram, so he plotted his death. Now Roger is determined he will break into the locked outhouse where, it is claimed, the mystery will finally be solved...

Original ITV Transmission: 8 February 1970.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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