This tape opens with the end of Newsround. Once again I’ve no idea who this young man is.
There’s a trailer for Live and Kicking.
Then, Toby Anstis (at least I know who he is) does some presenting.
There’s also Ant & Dec, talking about their new year’s resolution. Ant tells us it’s to grow up a bit, and be more mature. I wonder how that’s worked out for him?
Then, the first episode of Elidor. The titles are amazing, an early 90s CGI masterpiece.
It starts off with some fantasy type folk, talking about protecting the treasure, unlocking gates, playing the fiddle and finding the four children.
Then we’re in the real world, and a family visit their new house, with lots of complaints from the four children, who really are the surliest teenagers imaginable. “We can’t live here” they whine, at the nice house out in the country.
Still, maybe they’ve got a point when they’re met by a couple of Morris Dancers.
The four kids go into Manchester to do some shopping, and they’re whining all the time. They visit the strangest game shop in the world.
Its proprietor gives them a cartridge. He looked vaguely familiar, and the credits tell me it’s Freddie Davies, Mr Parrot Face himself.
They wander around, and one of them (the most miserable one) keeps seeing strange figures lurking about. Then, when he kicks a ball through a stained glass window into an abandoned church, he goes in to find it and meets Mr Fantasy bloke from the start. Then he goes through the church door and ends up on a beach somewhere where the colour has been rather desaturated.
There’s two people on horses chasing around. One of them in some kind of gimp mask, the other only ever says ‘Malebron’.
This is all very atmospheric, as much as a Children’s BBC budget will allow, but by the end of the first episode I’ve still no idea who any of these people are, or what they want.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 4th January 1995 – 17:10
Another slice of Newsround before the next episode, and another young presenter.
Episode 2 of Elidor and it isn’t improving. The young hero is still wandering around the world (called Elidor by the man who brought him there) and whining about everything. There’s more monochrome walking around until he finally finds his brothers and sister, and now they all have the treasures they’re supposed to guard. At least the colour has been turned up for this scene. Where they got the treasures isn’t explained.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th January 1995 – 17:05
At least in episode 3 the kids get back to the ‘real’ world, although the two horsemen are pursuing them. There are a lot of interesting stylistic things going on here, with the pursuers being ‘outside’ the real world.
The treasures have turned into mundane bits of tat, but wherever they go, they cause electrical equipment to go haywire. The father is particularly upset at missing A Question of Sport.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th January 1995 – 17:10
Another slice of Newsround before the next episode, with a trailer for Grange Hill. Then these two presenting Children’s BBC.
Elidor episode 4 and the story still seems to be moving glacially. The kids have buried the treasures, and the tree they planted on top has died.
The two horsemen are still searching for the kids, and are getting closer.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th January 1995 – 17:10
Another burst of Newsround, including news about tighter rules about advertising food and sweets to children.
There’s a trailer for Grange Hill.
Anorak seems to be a regular co-presenter. Any idea if he was (or became) someone famous? Edit to add: Is he Angelos Epithemiou? Wikipedia suggests no, but…
Now episode 5 of Elidor. Life goes on in the real world. The kids even go to a party.
While some sub-Game of Thrones mob action is happening in Elidor. At no point in the entire series do we learn anything about any of these people.
Malebron (the fantasy chap from Elidor) is sending a message to the kids.
Which they receive on a computer. I suspect this was different in the book.
It looks like an Atari ST to me. And this isn’t even the game cartridge they were given in the first episode. That plot strand has been completely forgotten.
At last, a unicorn turns up.
The two people pursuing the children seem to have made it into the real world. But they don’t immediately kill the children. It’s never clear what their limitations are, making the drama very inert.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st February 1995 – 17:05
Another Newsround before the next episode. There’s a trailer for The Biz.
Then, the final episode of Elidor. Malebron seems to be holding off an entire army on his own.
At least now it appears that something is happening. The two pursuers are actually chasing the children, although their inability to catch them when they are two feet away makes it seem like they’re not trying.
Finally, something resembling a plot turn happens, as the children are running away from the pursuers, and they get on a bus. Then, a man who accosted them earlier in the series accusing them of looting from the abandoned church, turns up drunk, recognises them, and takes the treasures from them. He’s played by Ken Sharrock, a very familiar face from loads of different shows.
But he’s a drunk, and gets into a fight with the gimpy pursuer, gets thrown out of the pub and the kids get their treasure back.
More unicorn chasing happens.
Finally, there’s a big fight in a deserted warehouse. Our hero, Roland actually gets to fight the gimp a bit.
Malebron, who has spent part of this episode floating face down in the sea, is suddenly excited again, and actually gets transported to the real world. Great special effects. For 1995. On a children’s TV budget.
So with Malebron’s help the two pursuers are defeated, so now Elidor has to sing. And we reach the point at which I remember throwing my hands up when I watched this originally.
Because, to sing, the unicorn has to die. Roland, our hero, whom we’ve followed for six episodes, has to kill a unicorn.
HE HAS TO KILL A UNICORN. AND HE DOES.
Fuck this story. Heroes don’t kill unicorns. Ideally they don’t kill anyone. I was wondering if I’d misremembered this ending, but no. The unicorn is killed, Malebron gets to return to his rainbow coloured land, and that’s the end. What kind of kid-based unicorn snuff movie is this? And where the hell does Elidor get its rainbow from if there’s no longer a unicorn around to fart them out?
I am genuinely amazed they stuck with this ending (which I am assuming came from the original book). I find it quite shocking, and also, it’s unearned. This ‘having to kill the unicorn’ magic rule is only introduced right at the end. It just feels cruel for no purpose.
If the rest of the serial had been better, perhaps this wouldn’t bother me so much, but it’s so inert and leaden, and the central performances are not very good, so this is just a final insult.
Sorry to get so cross. I do try to be positive on this blog, but this does really rub me the wrong way.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th February 1995 – 17:05
There’s a trailer for Thursday’s programmes, and a trailer for Live and Kicking.
Then, there’s an episode of Neighbours. No sign of Kylie and Jason here, though.
After this, a trailer for The Buccaneers. And a trail for Newsroom South-East.
Then, a whole episode of the Six O’Clock News. It leads with suggestions from the Irish government that the prevention of terrorism act should be scrapped.
Also in the news, the Princess of Wales won a court action against a newspaper which published pictures of her exercising, taken without her consent.
After the news, there’s Weather from Suzanne Charlton.
There’s a trailer for How Do They Do That?
Then, Newsroom South-East on the Menace of Crack.
During this, the recording stops, and underneath is part of an episode of How Do They Do That? the strange Desmond Lynam show about… doing stuff. It’s a programme that doesn’t really have a format, but pretends it does. A shiny-floor entertainment show, with an audience, that’s a weird hybrid of Tomorrow’s World and That’s Life.
The only segment here is one about the McLaren F1 supercar. It’s designed by Gordon Murray, presumably not the man who made Camberwick Green.
This segment is weird all round, in its delight in the excess of a car. The engine is coated in gold, to help with heat dissipation.
It’s way ahead of its time, with a computer engine management system. “If there is a problem, this gizmo called a modem, allows you to plug your phone directly into the car’s computer, press the little red button, and hey presto, the F1 automatically tells a computer at McLaren’s HQ exactly where the problem is.”
It says something about our miraculous modern world that I first thought they were plugging a mobile phone in, until I remembered this is from 1995. What they actually mean is you have to run a cable from your home phone line to your car, so the car can use dial-up to talk to home. Still pretty state of the art, though.
“Phew what a car, girls, it certainly took my breath away, I don’t know about yours” says co-presenter Jenny Hull.
She’s talking to McLaren sales director David Clark.
Everything about this studio section is insane.
Well I'd just love to have a go at driving one but
I don't think that David Clark, the sales director
for McLaren, would probably let me.
(Clark raises his eyebrows)
David, tell me what does it feel like to drive a car
I think the first thing you feel is the privilege of
being able to drive the car. Secondly, it's the
ultimate driving car, and it's amazing.
Is it a man's car or a woman's car?
It's both. I mean a woman can get in the car and just
drive the car, it's not a heavy car to drive.
Well let's just look inside at some of the gizmos in here.
The seating arrangement is truly fascinating, but the
passenger seats are very near the engine, which is sort of
at the back. Do the passengers get a kick when you start
Yes, I think, er, when you're driving it, because you can't
see them, you can imagine their faces, you always want to
give them a kick in the back.
OK, what about the acceleration of the car, what kind of
acceleration does it have?
0-60 in 3.2 seconds. 0-100 in 6.4 seconds.
Now what kind of people would buy a car like this?
A very wide range of people. A lot of them are car collectors.
They want to buy the ultimate car.
But you've got to be seriously rich, haven't you?
You've got to be rich.
(smiles at the size of his commission)
Yes. You've got to be rich. That's the first thing.
It’s the bit about your passengers needing a kick in the back that gets me. It looks like there’s a slight cut between two shots there, so I wonder if there was a little more context there for that comment, which otherwise sounds insane.
But that’s where the tape ends, so there’s no more of these delights for me.