Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Stone Tape — Retro TV

You know, it’s not THAT often I get a Saturday night off.

No, really … 

But when I do … ?

If I’ve nothing else to do — or planned — I like to try and catch a movie.

Or possibly a TV series.

Dr Who is a perennial favourite: but I’ve been binge-watching Penny Dreadful and House of Cards, over the past few months.

And frankly … ?

I’m ALSO planning to catch series two of Gotham: week by week, as it’s aired on Channel Five, here in the UK.

Just occasionally … ?

Just occasionally, I find a TV show … that’s not a series: doesn’t get anywhere NEAR being a series …

Or pilot …

Or …

Can I be frank?

I’ve spent tonight watching an old ‘made for TV’ PLAY: the Nigel Kneale penned, Peter Sasdy directed, The Stone Tape.

And it’s rather hard to explain: unless you know a little history.


Set and filmed in 1972, The Stone Tape shows us a small team of scientists — led by Peter (Michael Bryant) — moving into their new research establishment: in a renovated Victorian mansion called Taskerlands.

Aiming to find new recording media.

The mansion seriously unnerves computer programmer, Jill (Jane Asher): even Roy, the estate’s manager, finds the place strange at times.

Especially as he ones one room, in particular, has a reputation for being haunted.

Further research … ?

Shows the team isn’t haunted: far from it.   It is, in fact, the ‘stone tape’ of the title: ‘recording’ events onto the room’s very walls.

Including the death of a Victorian age maid, whose screams scare the researchers … but which can’t be recorded to tape …

The drama builds to a climax: with Jill eventually realising the Stone tape is seriously tape-like.

It can be recorded to, MANY times …


Now …

There’s so much that can be said, here.

In introducing this post, I mentioned history?

I don’t know how much I can tell you about the history of television: either as an art-form, or its impact on the world around us.

I DO know Nigel Kneale was the man who penned the influential Quatermass serials: without which British science fiction wouldn’t be the same.

And that The Stone Tape is generally hailed as a major influence: not just on TV, either.

Many paranormal reseachers refer to the concept that the landscape can ‘record’ traumatic events as ‘the stone tape theory.’

Personally … ?

I can only deal with what’s in front of me: what I’ve seen, in other words.

I am very aware I’ve seen something that has aged very well.

Something that, in 1972, was watched and enjoyed by many.

If The Stone Tape turned up now … ?

I don’t know how it would play.

But this original … ?

Is still watchable, after some forty-four years.

That’s a hell of a testament to the people that made it.

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