Supernatural (1977 TV series)

Supernatural is a British anthology television series that was produced by the BBC in 1977. The series consisted of eight episodes and was broadcast on BBC1. In each episode, a prospective member of the "Club of the Damned" was required to tell a horror story, and their application for membership would be judged on how frightening the story was. Applicants who failed to tell a sufficiently frightening story would be killed.

Supernatural
GenreHorror
Created byRobert Muller
Theme music composerPaul Lewis
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes8
Production
Producer(s)Pieter Rogers
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)BBC
Release
Original networkBBC1
Original release11 June (1977-06-11) –
6 August 1977 (1977-08-06)

OverviewEdit

Series creator Robert Muller, who also wrote seven of the eight screenplays, said: "The idea was to tell the kind of Gothic tale that we don't have on television, something akin to the old horror films of the 1920s and 1930s. What we get now are thrillers set in modern times with lots of blood and violence. There is no blood and no violence in this series. They are tales about ghosts, vampires, werewolves, that sort of thing. Highly romantic and highly charged with fear and menace."[1]

Although each episode was a stand-alone story, episodes 2 and 3 shared a cast and linked plot. These two episodes starred English actress Billie Whitelaw, who was married to Muller. She said: "Robert wrote the story with me in mind, but I said I would not read it until it was sent to me by a producer or director. I wanted the thing kept on a professional footing. During rehearsals we never discussed the play at home, and in the rehearsal room I would never address Robert directly if I had any query or suggestion. I would always go through the director."[1]

Vladek Sheybal won the Dracula Society's prestigious Hamilton Deane Award for the best dramatic performance or presentation in the Gothic horror/supernatural genres for his performance in "Night of the Marionettes".[2] Sheybal played "Herr Hubert", an Austrian innkeeper with life-size puppets in a story based around Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

In 2014, episodes 6-8 were repeated for the Halloween season on BBC Four.

Episode listEdit

# Title First transmission (UK) Director Writer Designer Cast notes
1 "Ghosts of Venice" 11 June 1977 10:10 p.m. Claude Watham Robert Muller Allan Anson Robert Hardy (Adrian Gall)
Sinéad Cusack (Leonora)
Isabel Dean (Charlotte Gall)
Lee Montague (Prefect of Police)
2 "Countess Ilona" 18 June 1977 9:55 p.m. Simon Langton Robert Muller Allan Anson Billie Whitelaw (Countess Ilona)
Ian Hendry (Zoltan Vinzenz)
John Fraser (Hugo Hoffman)
Charles Kay (Dr. Felix Kraus)
Sandor Eles ('He')
Charles Keating (Andras)
Amanda Boxer (Magda)
3 "The Werewolf Reunion" 25 June 1977 9:55 p.m. Simon Langton Robert Muller Allan Anson Billie Whitelaw (Countess Ilona)
Ian Hendry (Zoltan Vinzenz)
John Fraser (Hugo Hoffman)
Charles Kay (Dr. Felix Kraus)
Edward Hardwicke (Baron Josef von Haller)
Sandor Eles ('He')
Charles Keating (Andras)
Amanda Boxer (Magda)
4 "Mr Nightingale" 2 July 1977 9:50 p.m. Alan Cooke Robert Muller Barbara Gosnold Jeremy Brett (Mr. Nightingale)
Lesley-Anne Down (Felizitas)
Susan Maudslay (Elyse)
Bruce Purchase (Herr Steekeback)
Mary Law (Frau Steekeback)
Donald Eccles (Frau Steekeback's father)
Sylvia Coleridge (Herr Steekeback's mother)
Andre Van Gyseghem (Sir Francis)
5 "Lady Sybil" 9 July 1977 10:00 p.m. Simon Langton Robert Muller Michael Young Denholm Elliott (Geoffrey Manners)
John Osborne (Edward Manners)
Cathleen Nesbitt (Lady Sybil Manners)
Norma West (Madge)
Roger Sloman (Sergeant Cosley)
Andre Van Gyseghem (Sir Francis)
6 "Viktoria" 16 July 1977 9:40 p.m. Peter Sasdy Sue Lake Allan Anson Catherine Schell (Theresa Strickland)
Judy Cornwell (Margaret Graham)
Lewis Fiander (Paul Strickland)
Esmond Knight (Sir Charles)
Mia Nadasi (Elizabeth Strickland/Viktoria)
Norman Eshley (Edward)
Susan Richards (Kati)
Genevieve West (Young Viktoria)
Gilda Cohen (Rosa)
7 "Night of the Marionettes" 30 July 1977 9:55 p.m. Alan Cooke Robert Muller Allan Anson Gordon Jackson (Howard Lawrence)
Kathleen Byron (Elsbeth Lawrence)
Vladek Sheybal (Herr Hubert)
Pauline Moran (Mary Lawrence)
Sydney Bromley (Otto)
Andre Van Gyseghem (Sir Francis)
8 "Dorabella" 6 August 1977 9:45 p.m. Simon Langton Robert Muller Barbara Gosnold Jeremy Clyde (Walter Von Lamont)
David Robb (Philip Hambleton)
Ania Marson (Dorabella)
John Justin (Dorabella's father)
Esmond Knight (Sir Charles)
Jonathan Hyde (Amadeus)

DVD releaseEdit

Supernatural was released on 18 November 2013 as part of the British Film Institute's Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film celebration.[3][4] The 2-disc set contains four episodes on each disc, presented in the original transmission order.

Companion bookEdit

A companion book, Supernatural: Haunting Stories of Gothic Terror, was published to coincide with the series, with each screenplay adapted as a short story.[5] The cover of the first edition comprised a photograph of Whitelaw taken during the production of "Countess Ilona" and the tag-line "Now on BBC-TV." The adaptations are:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Eastaugh, Kenneth (18 June 1977). "Weekend Broadcasting: Previews". The Times. London. p. 10.
  2. ^ "The Hamilton Deane Award: 1977". Dracula Society. 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  3. ^ "BFI unveils Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film". BFI. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  4. ^ "BFI DVD/Blu-ray releases announced for autumn 2013". BFI. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  5. ^ Muller, Robert, ed. (1 June 1977). Supernatural: Haunting Stories of Gothic Terror. London: Fontana Books. ISBN 9780006150237.

External linksEdit