• Hesitation, repetition and deviation - The temporal nightmares and haunted landscapes of British television

    David Evans-Powell (see profile)
    Children--Social life and customs, Folklore--Study and teaching, Landscapes, Place (Philosophy), Space, Television, Television--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    After Fantastika
    Conf. Org.:
    Lancaster University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Lancaster, UK
    Conf. Date:
    July 2018
    experience of time, Rural Landscape, Children’s culture, Folklore studies, Landscape, Space and place, Television studies
    Permanent URL:
    “A place retaining a trace of historical and cultural happening... can then allow for the slippages in time, the event and its topographical traces being the gateway that allows the past to exist within the present, often fantastically and sometimes horrifically.” Adam Scovell - Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange – Auteur Publishing 2017, p56 Adam Scovell is quoted here discussing the TV adaptation of Alan Garner’s unsettling teenage drama The Owl Service (1969-70, Peter Plummer), but he could be describing any number of British television series and serials that feature landscapes stained by their folkloric heritage in which the past is not dead and forgotten but an atavistic and baleful force lurking just out of sight, eager to influence the present. The manner of this temporal invasion takes many forms: the unearthing or discovery of long hidden but powerful relics, described by Mark Fisher as ‘xenolithic artefacts’, such as in The Owl Service, Quatermass and the Pit (Rudolph Cartier, 1958-59), and A Warning to the Curious (Lawrence Gordon Clark, 1972); the latent power vested in landscapes shaped by ancient cultures, as in Children of the Stones (Peter Graham Scott, 1977) and Stigma (Lawrence Gordon Clark, 1977); and occasionally the past itself breaking through as an aggressive, antagonistic force, as in The Stone Tape (Peter Sasdy, 1972) and Sapphire and Steel (David Foster, 1979). In all these instances the landscapes of the serials are inseparable from their folkloric past, hauntologically charged and corroding linear, progressive time through cyclicality, repetition, stasis and timelessness. With a focus on the 1970s, this paper will survey a range of British television series and serials to examine the psychogeographical relationship between the landscapes and the pasts they are haunted by, and typify the forms of temporal distortion that manifest themselves.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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