Oh Happy Day: Children Of The Stones

7. children of the stones


The strangest, most disturbing children’s TV drama ever made. It was written by the team of Jeremy Burnham and former-Dr Who contributor Trevor Ray, who between them come up with something that suggests Quatermass writer Nigel Kneale doing The Wicker Man for kids, and going insane along the way.

The six-part story follows a young boy and his astrophysicist father as they move to the small English town of Milbury, built on the site of a vast, ancient stone circle. The outsiders slowly realise there’s something odd going on here: the villagers greet each other with odd phrases (“Happy Day”), seem unable to leave the confines of the old stone circle, and are all under the sway of a sinister astronomer (the brilliantly unsettling Iain Cuthbertson). And that’s before our heroes start receiving psychic shocks from the stones, or encounter the entire village standing chanting outside their window in the dead of the night.

The plot is just head-spinning, taking in a distant supernova, a fracture in time, black holes and ancient druids. It’s a cheaply made 1970s TV show, sure, featuring a hilarious selection of clothes and hairstyles. But it’s also a powerful, intelligent, supremely creepy mix of folk-horror and trippy sci-fi, all rooted in the buzzy, summery British landscape. They don’t make them like this anymore, sadly. Even the music is terrifying. In fact, the music is especially terrifying.