In 1977 the mini-series Children of the Stones hit British television screens. This seven-part haunting drama saw Gareth Thomas playing Adam Brake, an astrophysicist who arrives at the village of Milbury with his son Matthew. He wants to study an ancient stone circle but finds the village is not all that it seems.
Children of the Stones: Stone Circle Mystery
A look back at the 1977 fantasy show Children of the Stones starring Gareth Thomas and Ian Cuthbertson
The 1977 TV fantasy show Children of the Stones tells the story of astrophysicist Adam Brake (played by Gareth Thomas) and his son Matthew (played by Peter Demin) who stay at the village of Milbury to study an ancient stone circle. When they arrive, they find the villagers acting strangely.
Rafael Hendrick (played by Iain Cuthbertson) appears to have power over the other villagers who seem to be in a happy trance.
Writers Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray weave this supernatural tale across seven episodes. They also produced a novelisation of the show.
Children of the Stones Episodes
The first episode “Into the Circle” introduces Mrs Crabtree (Ruth Dunning) in whose house Adam and Matthew are staying and her landlord Hendrick, who are both intrigued by an old picture Adam has of a ceremony being carried out around the stones.
Adam and Matthew befriend Margaret Smythe (Veronica Strong) an archaeologist who has just become curator of the museum and her daughter Sandra (Katharine Levy). These two seem normal compared with the villagers who wish each other “Happy Day” and refer to themselves as the happy ones. Matthew discovers that the other children at school are remarkably advanced at maths and science and Margaret tells Adam that 53 ley lines run through the village, one for each of the 53 of the original 100 stones still standing. The episode ends with Margaret inviting Adam to touch a stone, which gives him screaming hallucinations and throws him to the ground.
In the second episode “Circle of Fear” Matthew meets a strange old man called Dai (Freddie Jones) who refers to a sanctuary and tells him that nobody leaves Milbury. Matthew and Adam find the stones are aligned to something in space and that the ley lines converge on Highfield House, home of Hendrick and his servant Link (John Woodnut). That night everyone in the village disappears and Matthew discovers them chanting in the stone circle.
Dr Lyle (Richard Mathews) treats Matthew after he is found unconscious at the start of episode three “Serpent in the Circle”. Sandra tells Matthew that sanctuary is the name of Dai’s home and Margaret tells Adam that sanctuary marks the head of the solar serpent. One of the other children becomes a maths genius and joins the happy ones. Dai has an amulet with a serpent on it that Margaret says is part of the old Pagan religion. Adam with help from an observatory finds the circle is pointing at a black hole.
“Narrowing Circle” sees Matthew having a vision about Dr Lyle trying to leave the village but failing. Soon Dr Lyle and his son Kevin (Darren Hatch) join the happy ones. Dai’s amulet breaks, a new stone appears and disappears to reveal Dai’s crushed body.
Dai’s body disappears in the fifth episode “Charmed Circle” but Matthew feels he is not really dead. He has a vision that gives Margaret and Adam a riddle to solve. Margaret and Sandra are invited to dinner by Hendrick round a circular stone table. Hendrick summons a power and a beam of light shoots from the table turning Margaret and Sandra into happy ones.
In the penultimate episode “Squaring the Circle”, Adam and Matthew try to leave Milbury but are brought unconscious back to Highfield House where they know that unless they do something they will soon be converted to happy ones.
The final episode “Full Circle” sees Adam and Matthew speeding up the clocks in Highfield House so Hendrick will mistime the black hole alignment when he taps the power of the ley lines. The result turns the rest of the villagers to stone but Adam and Matthew hide in the sanctuary. When they awake everything has changed, well not quite everything.
Children of the Stones Availability
The show was originally broadcast on the Welsh television station HTV, part of the ITV network in the UK, in January and February 1977. ITV repeated it in autumn 1978. The Nickelodian channel in the USA showed it in the early 1980s. It was released in 2008 on a region 0 DVD, which means it can be played on DVD players anywhere in the world.
Children of the Stones Trivia
Gareth Thomas who played Adam had previously appeared as Shem in the science fiction drama Star Maidens and was to go onto play Roj Blake in Blake’s 7.
The real village of Avebury in Wiltshire was the setting for Milbury. The village does have a stone circle but there were not enough stones for what the director wanted so fake stones were built to complete the circle.
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Book by Burnham, Jeremy, Ray, Trevor