Day #283/365: Noah’s Castle; a slightly overlooked artifact…

  • Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-4File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #46/52.

    There’s an almost cannon of late 1960s/1970s television series/broadcasts that have come to be seen as hauntological touchstones, cathode ray flickers that have resonated through the years and come to represent an otherly spectral folklore.

    In that particular more widely accepted cannon you could probably start with The Owl Service and Children Of The Stones and wander off towards The Changes, Sky, The Stone Tape… all good stuff and to varying degrees and for different reasons somewhat explored and/or appreciated around these parts…

    But one series which often seems to be slightly overlooked amongst such things is 1979’s Noahs Castle.

    Many of the above series were intended as children’s/younger persons entertainment; their oddness and possible inappropriateness for their target audience is now part of their appeal…

    …but I suspect that the ideas and plot of Noah’s Castle quite possibly trump them all in such terms; it is a series that has at its core hyperinflation, food shortages, societal collapse and a patriarch’s attempt to hole up and bunker away with his family… cue troops on the streets and food riots/looting…

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-7

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The CountryAlthough, I suppose that not too dissimilar ideas of the downtrodden poor and divided dystopias still appear today as fiction for not quite yet adults in the likes of The Hunger Games…

    (As I type, Noah’s Castle also reminds me of the comic book version of V For Vendetta in a way; a tale of a Britain returned to the deprivations of a more austere earlier age – V For Vendetta seems set in some alternative or returned to version of the 1970s.)

    Curious themes for stories intended for a particular transitional age, although enduringly popular it would seem that  they may well serve some purpose during that liminal time, possibly in some way helping with a coming to terms with adult responsibilities and the removal of the protections of “grown-ups”

    In terms of being a particular view of societal collapse, Noah’s Castle could be seen as the lower budget, more youth orientated flipside to the final series of Quatermass… although the final tale of Dr Quatermass is probably easier viewing material for a modern sensibility. Noah’s Castle requires more of a recalibration towards the rhythms and pacing of earlier times (see Day #33/365)…

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-6

    …although in terms of subcultures, Quatermasses restless youth are more new age/traveller-ish (in the TV series at least), whereas those in Noah’s Castle are nearer to a kind of street-level punk…

    And Noah’s Castle could also be linked to a mini-genre of 1970s largely cinematic science fiction that dealt with societal/ecological/resource collapse that I’ve tended to wander amongst around these parts, ie Soylent Green, Zardoz, Phase IV, Silent Running and No Blade Of Grass… although in No Blade Of Grass the particular youth subculture that is running amok are those oft-picked upon lawless bikers…

    I think also I was drawn to (slightly) re-watch Noah’s Castle as on first broadcast I had only seen literally a minute or two of it but I had gleaned the general theme of food shortages which had intrigued me and my mind had wandered off with that small slice of material to create and consider a whole world and story around it…

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-2

    …and so, as mentioned earlier in this particular year in the country (see Day #183/365), when I revisited it, I wasn’t necessarily rewatching the series that I remembered, the images on the screen seemed in some ways quite removed and separate from the stories in my mind, a sense that was added to by the aforementioned different calibrations in terms of stories.

    …and I tend to think of it as being called Noah’s Ark rather than Noah’s Castle, the Ark title seeming more fitting in a way…

    And returning to a slight overlooking… Possibly as well Noah’s Castle feels slightly separate from the earlier mentioned canon as it seems to be one of the few of such things where its wandering back out into the world hasn’t been stamped with a seal of official cultural approval by a venerated cultural institution (ie the BFI) or by the endless trawling of the nation’s cathode archives by a particular more commercial body (ie Network).

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-A Year In The Country

    Anyways view a small slice of the series here (with a curiously punk rawk soundtrack rather than the intriguing voice over of the nation’s woes that was the original end title music). View the silver disc resending here.

    Noahs Castle-1979 TV series-John Rowe Townsend-A Year In The Country-3

    Noahs Castle-John Rowe Townsendtv tie in tv adaptation book-A Year In The CountryView the aforementioned curious mini-genre and lawless bikers at Day #88/365 and also a slither or so at Day #83/365.

     

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