I was only a kid when I saw this mini-series, way back in 1979, but it was one of those programmes that stayed with you, its images etched into your brain... The dystopian near-future setting, the street gangs, the armoured taxi with "no cash carried" painted on the door, the mysterious beam of light from the sky striking the gathered crowds at the stone circle, the giant radio telescope dish... All etched indelibly - from one single viewing, 25 years previously. Unforgettable.
I'd been trying to track down a copy of this memorable series ever since, only having the paperback novel from the time as evidence it had ever existed ... so it was with great pleasure that I noted this long-overdue release.
So, how does it stand up today? Although unavoidably dated in places, it's still amazing - maybe even more so, as we're nearer to the future it predicted than we were back then... Nigel Kneale's interest in the links between folklore and sci-fi creates a unique atmosphere, as in all his filmed works, and veteran director Piers Haggard maintains a sure hold over the unusual material, the fey tone of the work almost echoing that other great British nightmare-fairytale "The Wicker Man" in places. Other aspects are quite visionary, something I could only appreciate watching it again as an adult - the "pay-cops" (metropolitan contract police), the social decay due to no more oil, Britain described as a "third world country", the almost medieval pre-industrial populace eking out an existence amongst the rubble of society... And the scenes of armed riot police attempting to prevent the crowds of New Age Traveller-like "Planet People" from gathering at the stone circle are even more resonant now after the Tory era, and make you wonder if Nigel Kneale had a crystal ball next to his typewriter? I loved it then, and I love it even more now - if you're a fan of imaginative, thought-provoking, visionary British sci-fi then this unique work definitely deserves a place on your DVD shelf.