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Sunday night serials

One feature of growing up in the late seventies and early eighties was the Sunday night serial on the ABC, which we used to watch together as a family.

We, the Accused was about the unhappily married school teacher in the 1920s who kills his nasty wife and runs off with a younger woman. For a while, it looked like he’d get away with it, but the eerie theme music should have warned us otherwise. It ended with him standing on the gallows and the screen discreetly fading to black. And then the screen lit up again and – bang! – he was hanged.

A Horseman Riding By, based on the novels by R F Delderfield, featured a very handsome Nigel Havers as country squire in Devon before and during the First World War. It featured war profiteering, criminal justice, Suffragettes and the introduction of the motor car. Episode 4 was called ‘A Birth and a Death’. Has there ever been a better title? One of the characters was heavily pregnant, so we knew who was going to be born, but who was going to die? As it turned out, it should have been ‘A Birth and two Deaths’. You can watch it all on YouTube.

They also dramatised Diana, based on more of R F Delderfield’s work, in which the hero is totally infatuated with the title character (though her real name was something else). This wasn’t as good because she was rather vain and selfish, which got grating after not that long.

In between the two, they did To Serve Them All My Days, based on one of the last things R F Delderfield ever wrote. It’s also on YouTube, but I’m watching the DVDs I bought years ago, which give a much better picture quality, though to play them I have to link up a player to my laptop, and in run a cord to the TV. I’ll post more about that later.

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Michael from Perth

A unique view of the strange and spectacular world through the eyes of Michael from Perth