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DVD: The Changes | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Changes

DVD: The Changes

Fantastic mid-Seventies dystopian children's drama from the BBC

Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams) contemplates how her world has been transformed in ‘The Changes’

Fantastic is the only word for The Changes. Fantastic as in fantasy, and fantastic because it's a television drama that's brilliantly conceived and impeccably executed – and also because it tackles issues of social cohesion and fragmentation head-on without using a sledgehammer.

Broadcast by the BBC in 1975, The Changes was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson's trilogy of novels The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil's Children.

The series tells how a sudden, inexplicable change transforms British society. Made with serious intent, it was for children and broadcast in a tea-time slot. Scheduled after John Craven’s Newround, it came with an announcement that the series was “for older viewers”. Within three minutes of the start of episode one, adults are seen losing their rationality and destroying machines en masse. It immediately got to the point. Complaints were received after it aired.

The ChangesThe Changes hinges on Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams) who, separated from her parents, falls in with a group of Sikhs escaping the city for safety in the country (pictured right). Machines are now to be avoided, or destroyed. Murderous impulses can arise when encountering even bicycles. Yet the Sikhs are not affected. Themes tackled include racism, the role of women and misogyny, communal living and the compromises made to accommodate the needs of others. As the matter-of-fact Nicky, Williams shines.

The flight to the country and the return to an agrarian way of life makes this a journey back in time, but the period evoked is not medieval but the lawless, witch-finding years of the English Civil War. This was and remains powerful: a drama which rightly challenged its audience.

The package also includes a fascinating yet sobering 1983 documentary on Asians living in Britain. The dryly academic lead essay in the booklet tells the story of the series’ troubled birth poignantly and there are shorter contributions about The Changes producer Anna Home, as well as soundtrack composer The Radiophonic Workshop’s Paddy Kingsland. An essential release.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for The Changes

Watch the trailer for The Changes

The flight to the country and the return to an agrarian way of life makes this a journey back in time


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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