The launch of the Kindle got me thinking about all the things an e-reader can never be. You can't inscribe it to a loved one or press flowers between it's pages. It can never be an object, loved and cherished and passed from person to person, with any history. Your children cannot draw upon the pages and fill it with precious memories. Illustrations look terrible on it, especially art, which needs a grand scale. For these reasons and many more, help me celebrate the real thing: dusty old books!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Tatty TV Tie-ins

You find them everywhere: junk shops, charity shops, car boot sales. And the frisson of recognition and memory is powerful to anyone of a certain age. In the 1970s there was a surge of classic children's book adaptations: Heidi, The Secret Garden, The Railway Children... it was a golden age. I know it continued into the 80s, but then, sadly it slowly began it's tragic decline. Anne of Green Gables was especially popular in our house. To this day my sister and I call our mother "Marilla". Kim Braden (now, what became of her?) was perfect...and I mean perfect... as Anne Shirley, the temperamental orphan in search of a kindred spirit. The BBC films were made around Constable Country I believe, in Suffolk, which made a very credible Prince Edward Island. So much of L.M. Montgomery's invented mythology entered our lives and however good the newer Canadian films are (and Megan Follows is superb as Anne), these earlier films - the first series I believe irretrievably lost or damaged (and certainly never issued on DVD) - captured an innocence and tenderness that was surprisingly memorable. I suppose they must have left "plenty of scope for the imagination" as Anne would have said. And I confess to a bit of a crush on Ms. Braden...
The other TV tie in here is a simular vintage but from Australia, bought in by the BBC. I can only assume it is likewise lost as no DVD seems to exist, which is a great pity as I remember it so vividly I can still sing the theme tune. Seven Little Australians is a haunting and ultimately tragic story of an Australian family, set at the end of the 19th century. A classic "down under" it doesn't seem as well know in Britain. It's a little sentimental, as one might expect, but powerful nontheless, and a few hints of E. Nesbit and indeed Montgomery.
That these memories, filled with the sound of tea cups and the smell of Battenburg and the promise of Mr Kipling, as we settled down as a whole family to watch the tea-time classic serial, can be held by a tatty TV tie-in is remarkable. There are more handsome editions of both books out there. But none that mean more to me. Custard Cream anyone?


  1. James, I am finding this blog so enjoyable - and nostalgic. Keep up the good work!
    Any chance of some more Bilibin soon?

  2. Hi Doda

    I'll dig some out VERY soon I promise!!!

    J x

  3. What happened to Kim Braden? She turned up on Star Trek; the Next Generation, and in the film Star Trek: Generations. (showing off my sad, geeky TV watching habits here)

  4. A more sensible thought; I have a really old tatty TV tie-in held together with dust and sellotape - War and Peace,a two book set with Anthony Hopkins, Alan Dobie and Morag Hood from the 1972 BBC production on the cover.

  5. James, this has taken be right back to the tattered copy of Anne of Green Gables I inherited from my mother. Thick blotting paper pages, yellowing and foxed, with no spine, but I loved it!