Filming the Owl Service #1
I’d consciously put off writing about the Owl Service because I really didn’t know where to begin. If you’re interested in the supernatural, mythological and metaphysical in children’s television drama then the Owl Service is the beginning. The Owl Service preoccupied me long before I even watched it, as a child the cover my Armada Lions jumble sale copy of Alan Garner’s novel on which the series is based used to simultaneously terrify and mesmerise me. I’ve since gone on to accumulate numerous copies of the book in a few different languages, but none of the covers creep me out in quite the same way.
In the late nineties with my first access to the internet I used to regularly stay late in the library at university and search for the Owl Service in the hope of gleaning more information. I must have visited the BFI Screen Online page dozens of times. Not much changed from as it is now, though minus the video clips in those days, the picture of Alison defiant in her red sunglasses was the epitome of cool.
And that’s the thing about the Owl Service, everything about it is so strangely captivating and the more you find out about it the more uncanny it becomes. Ignoring everything else it’s a great novel filmed with a radical almost avant-garde approach, certainly for children’s drama. It heralded a new way of producing television drama for young people and I chose not to write about it because trying to explain that with, like, words ‘n that, well that’s quite difficult.
Then this summer I found a way to get around it. I wouldn’t write about the Owl Service, I’d write about the Filming the Owl Service. Filming the Owl Service was a book produced to coincide with the televisation of the series taking the format of a diary written by Garner’s children, liberated from school for nine weeks while their father supervised filming. I admit a little bit of it was showing off, because I actually had a copy. ‘Big wow’ you might think, but tracking a copy down for less that the fifty quid or so it used to go for had put it out of my reach for some time. Tracking down even information on it had been tricky, so now I had a copy I figured there’d be other people like me interested in this mythical book. This would be a great blog entry, it might even nudge out the biggest source of traffic coming from searches for Heinz Haunted House Pasta. Possibly.
That was the plan anyway, until I actually sat down to write it and with a preparatory google found I’d been pipped to the post. Twice. Well, three times actually if we’re going to be picky as one is a referral, but seriously, two posts about the Filming the Owl Service in six weeks, what are the chances? So this is a blog about not writing a blog, post-modern innit? And an opportunity to link to three other excellent blogs which I’ve dipped into from time to time and always enjoyed so feasibly you might too. They’re a right good read.
Such is the uncanniness of the Owl Service, which I’ll probably write about next time. If no one gets there first.