Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dark Season is a British science-fiction television serial for children, screened on BBC ONE in the UK in late 1991. Comprised of six twenty-five minute episodes, the two linked three-part stories tell the adventures of three teenagers and their battle to save their school and their classmates from the actions of the sinister Mr Eldritch. It was the first television drama to be written by Russell T. Davies, and is also noteworthy for co-starring a young Kate Winslet.
Russell T. Davies was a BBC staff Producer working for the children's department at BBC Manchester, running the summertime activity show Why Don't You...? He had gained some television writing experience scripting the comedy dubbed version of The Flashing Blade for the On the Waterfront Saturday morning children's programme in 1989 and the children's sketch show Breakfast Serials the following year, but his real ambition was to write television drama.
To this end, he wrote an on-spec script for the first episode of Dark Season - originally titled The Adventuresome Three - and used the BBC's internal mail system to send it directly to the Head of Children's Programmes, Anna Home. Impressed with the script, Home asked Davies to write the second episode, and when Tony Robinson decided to take a break from producing Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, a slot opened up in the Children's BBC schedules for late 1991 and Home decided to use Dark Season to fill it, commissioning Davies to write the remaining episodes of the serial.
Transmitted at 4.35pm on Thursdays from November 14 to December 19 1991, each episode would be repeated the Sunday morning following first broadcast. Davies also penned a novelisaton of Dark Season for BBC Books, which was released concurrently with the transmission of the serial and was advertised after each episode. He would later go on to write a second children's science-fiction serial for the BBC, Century Falls, in 1993, before forging a long and successful career in adult television drama.
The first three episodes begin with Third Year secondary school girl Marcie and her two Fifth Year friends Tom and Reet becoming suspicious of the sinister Mr Eldritch, whose computer company arrives at the school and distributes free computers to all the pupils.
With the reluctant help of their teacher Miss Maitland they apparently defeat the threat of Eldritch, who disappears. However, the second three episodes tell of the actions of Miss Pendragon, who works for Eldritch and is attempting to revive the massive, secret Behemoth computer from its long-hidden location beneath the school.
Cast and Crew
The director assigned to Dark Season was Colin Cant, who had a long and highly esteemed reputation in producing BBC children's programmes, having for many years produced the popular school-based teen drama Grange Hill throughout the 1980s and directed classic children's serials such as Moondial (1990).
The three stars were Victoria Lambert as Marcie, Ben Chandler as Tom and Kate Winslet, in her first major professional acting role, as Reet. There were several guest stars who were well-known names on British television: Miss Maitland was played by Brigit Forsyth who had starred in the popular sitcoms The Likely Lads and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? in the 1960s and 70s, and Miss Pendragon was played by Jacqueline Pearce, who was well known for her role as the villainous Servalan in the late 1970s / early 80s BBC science-fiction series Blake's 7.
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