Hello, I’m Hazel and I like scaring children…

…or to put in in a slightly less sociopathic way, I’m really interested in the  televisual history of fear in children‘s programming, probably because I enjoyed being frightened so much myself as a child.  Though intriguing and often amusing, I’m not so interested in the aspects of television that unintentionally scare children or make them uneasy, so as confusing and uncomfortable as Jeannette Krankie may have made many of us feel when we were growing up that‘s not what I intend to focus on.  What really fascinates me is the supernatural and folk horror influenced output of the 1970s and 1980s particularly because it ties in with an interest in the construction of childhood through television and changing conceptions of citizenship and responsibility towards children.  By this what I really mean is that I think television in the 1970s and 80s not only reflected children better, but patronised them less.

A week ago while absent minded wandering around the internet I came across a post of the title sequence of an unbroadcast children programme from the mid 70s called the Number Lady, ostentatiously a supernatural drama about number stations.  By the end of the sequence those heightened feelings of excitement you get upon discovering something new, which surely the Germans must have a word for, had dissolved into giggles as it was apparent that it was a (very good) spoof.  The involvement of Les Waters being the ultimate giveaway for anyone that’s seen the Pelican Book mock-up for An Introduction to Hauntology.  Not everyone had got the joke though and from the original post you could see the ripples of overexcited cult tv fans disappearing into the furthest reaches of the internet to try to dredge up more information about the mysterious find.

Strangely I wasn’t disappointed to discover that the Number Lady had never existed.  It was so beautifully put together it perfectly illustrates what I love about this particular genre of television.  The ominous musique concrète soundtrack,  designed to make you feel uneasy before it’s even begun, a theme that not only combines a suspicion of technology that perfectly characterises the futureshock of the 1970s, but also an organic timeless supernatural aspect.  All combined with the obligatory child (or small group of children) who are the only ones open minded enough to truly acknowledge or understand what is really happening.  It’s perfect!

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~ by hazyhazy on February 14, 2012.

2 Responses to “Hello, I’m Hazel and I like scaring children…”

  1. Les Waters is an alias my friend & I sometimes use for arty projects such as The Number Lady & An Introduction to Hauntology, in a similar vein to the BBC’s ‘David Agnew’ – a cover name used for ghost-written program scripts, especially in the 70s – especially on Dr Who. Our Les has no connection to the very real theatre impressario, as some think, and so he can be whoever we want him to be – an embittered writer of unsettling supernatural children’s television whose show was axed to fund another series of Jack Hagreaves ‘Out of town’. It’s all good Hauntological fun and helps create some small tenuous link to those glorious childhood yesteryears people of our generation yearn for…

  2. Aceness! Send my regards to Les, big fan of his work.

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