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What is The owl service about?
The Owl Service was made into a Granada Television television serial in 1969. The television version was remarkably bold in terms of production. It was one of the first colour productions by Granada Television and was filmed almost entirely on location at a time when almost all TV drama was studio-bound. It used editing techniques such as jump-cuts to create a sense of disorientation and also to suggest that two time periods overlapped. Where the book refers occasionally to the sound of a motorcycle, the television realization inserted a fraction of a second of a partial view of the antique motorcycle being ridden. Overall the direction by Peter Plummer was quite radical and seemed to be influenced by the avant-garde, a noted contrast to what might be expected of a children's serial. The parts of Gwyn, Roger and Allison were played by actors in their 20's Michael Holden, Francis Wallis and Gillian Hills respectively, although they acted as older teenagers (the indication that Gwyn was now going on to college would make them probably 17). However a more sexual subtext was inevitable in this situation. Gwyn kisses Alison while on one of their walks, and Roger's scene where he persuades Alison to become flowers ends with Alison looking at him as if he were a lover. The casting of Gillian Hills in particular heightened this sexual aspect. The actress, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Brigitte Bardot, had appeared nude in the film "Blow Up" and indeed also had a singing career in France. The serial was repeated in 1978, for the first time in colour. This resulted in Granada placing an endcap with a copyright date of 1978 which might have confused viewers who didn't realise it was actually produced nine years earlier. According to the TV Times this repeat was a tribute to cameraman David Wood who had died a few months earlier. No reference was made to the death of Michael Holden the previous year. A further repeat took place on Channel 4 in 1987. Network DVD will release the official DVD of The Owl Service on April 3, 2008.

Actors: Michael Holden, Francis Wallis, Gillian Hills

Season 1 of The owl service

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