Into The Circle

Children Of The StonesAstrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew move to the village of Milbury, home to an ancient megalithic stone circle whose magnetic properties Brake wants to study. Milbury seems pleasant enough, but also odd: Brake nearly runs over his new housekeeper in his car, but moments before, Matthew perceived the woman as a large stone standing in the road. The population seems joined in lockstep, making the new arrivals’ sense of discomfort even more acute. Brake meets a fellow academic who has just arrived in Milbury, and learns of her inexplicable feelings of foreboding. Matthew continues to have strange visions of free-standing stones who turn out to be nothing more than the local townsfolk, and has a hard time as an outsider in the local school. Though who don’t immediately assimilate into the Milbury mindset are branded “strange” by their neighbors.

When Adam Brake’s new acquaintance suggests he should touch one of the ancient stones, “strange” doesn’t even begin to describe what happens next.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Cast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Freddie Jones (Dai), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), Peter Demin (Matthew), Katharine Levy (Sandra), Ian Donnolly (Bob), Darren Hatch (Kevin), Jimmy Lock (Jimmo), June Barrie (Mrs. Clegg), Peggy Ann Wood (Mrs. Warner)

Notes: A single-season supernatural children’s series produced by regional UK TV network HTV West and broadcast nationally on ITV, Children Of The Stones is remembered to this day for its unsettling storyline, imagery and music. In retrospect, it seems doubtful that such a series could be produced for children in this day and age.

Children Of The StonesGareth Thomas, a popular actor in Welsh television and theater, was already well on his way becoming a mainstream star on UK television when he took the lead protagonist role in children Of The Stones. The actor behind Adam Brake would later become interplanterary revolutionary Roj Blake in Terry Nation’s Blake’s 7, which premiered a year after this series. He faced off against Nation’s other famous creations, the Daleks, in a series of Big Finish audio plays, and returned to Wales for a guest role in the first season of Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood.

Respected British character actor Freddie Jones, perhaps best remembered in genre circles for portraying Thufir Haway in David Lynch’s film version of Dune, has appeared in countless genre TV roles (The Avengers, Out Of The Unknown, Space: 1999, Neverwhere, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) and many high-profile movies (Firefox, Krull, The Elephant Man, Firestarter, The Black Cauldron, Young Sherlock Holmes).

Series co-creator Trevor Ray was an uncredited “assistant script editor” for much of Patrick Troughton’s final season as Doctor Who and part of Jon Pertwee’s first year. Script editor Terrance Dicks faced such a heavy workload of rewriting scripts (or writing last-minute replacements for unsuitable scripts) that Ray was hired to help. He eventually vacated the post to become the script editor of the troubled spy series Paul Temple, whose producers were Troughton-era Who veterans Derrick Sherwin and Paul Bryant.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Circle Of Fear

Children Of The StonesKnocked out cold by his brief contact with one of the stones in Millbury’s stone circle, Brake is taken home by Margaret to recover. Margaret is sure that what happens on contact with one of the stones is psychic in nature, but Brake insists that the explanation is electromagnetism… and yet he can’t shake the impressions that are left in his mind. Matthew is shaken by an encounter with Dai, who would seem to be the village idiot, but he also quickly realizes that Dai seems to be more of an individual than the rest of the townsfolk. But Dai’s warning – that no one can ever leave the circle – is disturbing. Brake probes the circle with sonar and finds a bowl-shaped rock formation in the center of the circle, almost resembling a receiving dish, and Matthew discovers that the stones, rather than being aligned with respect to the positions of the sun or moon at any particular solstice, are all upright: pointed in the same direction as the buried dish formation, toward some unknown point in the constellation Ursa Major. Brake’s attempt to take Margaret out on a date that doesn’t involve psychic phenomena falls flat – because at night, almost everyone in Millbury simply vanishes. But Matthew knows where everyone has gone: they’re standing at the center of the stone circle, hands joined, wailing an eerie song…

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Cast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Freddie Jones (Dai), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), Peter Demin (Matthew)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Serpent In The Circle

Children Of The StonesAs Matthew recovers from receiving a mysterious shock suffered by touching one of the stones, Brake meets Dai for the first time and learns that Matthew and a few other recently-arrived children in the Millbury school look up to the scruffy poacher. Dai lets the children draw a copy of a design on an ancient stone he keeps with him, bearing the image of a snake. Brake’s inquiries with his colleagues at the Mount Palomar observatory reveal an interesting fact: the point in Ursa Major at which the Millbury stone circle is aimed was the site of a supernova spotted near the beginning of recorded history, a place in the sky where modern astronomers now know a black hole exists. Brake isn’t the only man in Millbury who knows this, either: his landlord, Hendrick, is a retired astronomer renowned for researching the early accounts of the supernova. And more and more of Millbury’s new arrivals are falling under the town’s strange spell before Brake’s eyes.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Children Of The StonesCast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Freddie Jones (Dai), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), Peter Demin (Matthew), Katharine Levy (Sandra), Darren Hatch (Kevin), Jimmy Lock (Jimmo), Richard Matthews (Dr. Lyle), June Barrie (Mrs. Clegg), Hubert Tucker (Browning)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Narrowing Circle

Children Of The StonesWith more people falling into the strange, almost suspiciously carefree behavior of Millbury’s longtime residents, Brake and Margaret find a fellow skeptic in Dr. Lyle, who claims that no one in Millbury ever seems to get sick, which seems to eliminate the need for a town doctor. Putting together what they know, they determine that there are two others seemingly immune to Millbury’s perpetually happy mindset: Hendrick, the town mayor, and Dai, the homeless poacher Matthew Brake has befriended. Dr. Lyle has plans to leave town briefly, but he leaves his gloves at Brake’s house. Matthew touches the gloves and sees a strange event befalling Lyle at the edge of town: a psychic vision through the doctor’s eyes. When Dr. Lyle returns, however, he has changed – he’s now the same as everyone else in Millbury. And when the amulet he claims has been protecting him is broken, Dai suffers an even worse fate.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Children Of The StonesCast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Freddie Jones (Dai), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Peter Demin (Matthew), Katharine Levy (Sandra), Richard Matthews (Dr. Lyle), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), Peggy Ann Wood (Mrs. Warner), Darren Hatch (Kevin)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Charmed Circle

Children Of The StonesAdam Brake rushes to Hendrick’s home to report Dai’s death, and Hendrick calmly insists on seeing the poacher’s body for himself. When he and Brake return, there’s nothing but broken stone at the spot where Dai died. But Brake also collected the broken fragments of Dai’s amulet – fragments that now fit in perfect alignment with fragments of an identical amulet found decades ago near the body a man found crushed by one of the stones in Millbury’s stone circle. When placed together, the fragments complete the ancient amulet, and Matthew recevies another vision. Margaret and her daughter also received a dinner invitation from Hendrickson, an invitation which will change everything.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Children Of The StonesCast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Freddie Jones (Dai), Peter Demin (Matthew), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Katharine Levy (Sandra), John Woodnutt (Link), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree)

Notes: Though credited, Freddie Jones appears in this episode only in a clip recapping the previous episode.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Squaring The Circle

Children Of The StonesMargaret and Sandra return from their dinner at Hendrick’s home – in reality, a temple fashioned to serve as the center of the circle in Millbury – completely changed. Adam and Matthew no longer have any allies in Millbury. Matthew sees Hendrick near the local church – a church which has supposedly been unoccupied by either priest or parishioners for years – and sneaks inside, finding cutting-edge computers… and Hendrick waiting for him. Hendrick returns Matthew home, but now Adam is certain that he and his son need to leave Millbury.

If, indeed, it’s actually possible for anyone to leave.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Children Of The StonesCast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Peter Demin (Matthew), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Katharine Levy (Sandra), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), John Woodnutt (Link)

Notes: The notion that time is passing at a different rate outside Millbury than it is within the village – and that there’s only one point at which there’s an interface between the two – beats the acclaimed series Lost to one of its central twists by 30 years.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Full Circle

Children Of The StonesAdam and Matthew’s attempt to escape Millbury has failed, and they awaken in Hendrick’s home, presumably captives until their own dinner date with destiny. The father and son frantically brainstorm ways to avoid becoming brainwashed like everyone else they’ve met in Millbury, and devise a way to throw off Hendrick’s meticulous timing in order to avoid the stone circles lining up with the black hole Hendrick discovered. In the showdown between Brake’s astrophysical science and Hendrick’s strange brand of Pagan science, there’s only one uncertainty: whether or not Adam and Matthew Brake will survive with their free will intact.

written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray
directed by Peter Graham Scott
music by Sidney Sager

Children Of The StonesCast: Iain Cuthbertson (Hendrick), Gareth Thomas (Adam), Peter Demin (Matthew), Veronica Strong (Margaret), Katharine Levy (Sandra), Ruth Dunning (Mrs. Crabtree), John Woodnutt (Link)

LogBook entry by Earl Green