Thursday, 14 April 2016

Gareth Thomas (1945-2016)

The Welsh actor Gareth Thomas, who died on Wednesday, was best known for his starring role in the sci-fi adventure series Blake's 7. However, he also appeared in Children of the Stones, a very good supernatural serial.

Children of the Stones was an ITV children's drama that was distinguished by a very strong cast - as well as Gareth Thomas it featured Iain Cuthbertson and Freddie Jones. Filmed in Avebury, it concerns a scientist, played by Thomas, who arrives in the village with his teenage son to survey the stone circle. It quickly emerges that the village is not a normal place, and that some kind of influence linked to the stones is exerted by the local squire, a maverick scientist played by Cuthbertson.

For a children's show CotS is remarkably intelligent, well-acted, and absorbing. It may be the scariest example of its kind, too. It combines ideas from modern science with mythology, and has a clever twist ending. The theme of ordinary people being brainwashed by occult powers unleashed by science is great fun, of course, and the script by Trevor Ray and Jeremy Burnham is first-rate. There's a nod to The Prisoner in the village greeting 'Happy Day!' Then there's the weird  title music...

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