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Noah's Castle - The Complete Series [DVD]

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So what seemed like an insanely counter-intuitive idea – making a futuristic children’s drama out of the stuff of pie charts and percentages and humorous Richard Stilgoe numbers – was actually a sound move from Lewis Rudd’s low budget mavericks at Southern’s children’s department. Not a massive stroke of good fortune earned through the sufferings of our forebears (and a lot of other poor bastards worldwide who weren’t our forebears); just something you get. The government minister has restated that they will not be held to ransom”) drone away over band Jugg’s elegiac theme music, which somehow contrives to make the use of a bossanova preset unsettling. Noah’s castle isn’t as terrifying as the BBC’s The Changes (1975) or as overtly political as the adult dystopias The Guardians (1971) and 1990 (1977-1978) but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. As visions of the future go, it’s hardly a rosy one and this was grim stuff for a children’s tea-time television drama.

I think it's important to keep that in mind while reading, as while most of the book stands the test of time, there are parts which are a little dated. Life's a mystery which childhood makes even worse, so let us revisit it in all its haunting creepiness. I think this is because of some of the chauvinistic attitudes of the men in the story (woman's place is in the kitchen, children should be seen and not heard). It was commissioned in 1979 by Southern Television, when British life was once again in a state of flux.While readers will identify with him, his sister Agnes, and some other characters that come along, the real star of the novel is Barry's father, Norman.

While the strifes of Noah’s Castle are set today, possibly tomorrow but on recognisable streets; yours, mine, the street next door and the conflicts shown in it were a direct product, reflection of and extrapolation from societal strife and conflict around the time it was made. One of the most irksome things about my drizzly homeland of the United Kingdom is the widespread domestic habit of mistaking the material benefits of industrial and Colonial wealth, post-war socialism, and a happy lack of mass violence—all of which, for a good half century, guaranteed a relatively safe and stable life, good opportunities to better your lot, free healthcare, welfare, and a relatively graft-free state—for something as ineluctable as rain. To contemporary readers, Noah’s Castle will probably look dated and a bit trite, but by the standards of the day it was unpatronizing and adult in its ambiguity and refusal to draw inch-thick lines between goodies and baddies. Written in 1975 it tells the story of a country that runs out of food, due to a major economic crisis, and the effects of rampant inflation. The series renders the grottiness, greyness, and shabbiness of a collapsing ’70s Britain (which didn’t look that different to supposedly uncollapsing ’70s Britain) surprisingly well: drinking and smoking abound, and gangs of resentful-looking blokes lurk on street corners, looking for a scapegoat to take out their frustrations on.I (think) I remember an episode where one of the brats sneaked a can of ‘spam’ or corn-beef out to give to another kid as a birthday present. When people are not able to easily (or at all) obtain food, the seemingly strong fabric of society frays almost instantly. The story is a personal one too, which adds brilliantly to the unease—small, seemingly casual details like changes in the organization of school meals gradually ratchet up the sense of breakdown. A reminder of how dangerously people can behave when they feel that their backs are against the wall?

He has published more than twenty books and has received wide acclaim as a novelist; one of his books won an Edgar Award, six were chosen as ALA Notable Books, and three have been serialized for television. So when he starts to hoard food and supplies for his family to live off of during the crisis, I agreed with him and knew he was doing the right thing for his family, but I still didn't like him. Of course, the wrongness of the sexism isn't explored to its fullest, but maybe that would be a bit too much to ask of a book originally published in 1975. He had had a relationship with Jill Paton Walsh since the early 1970s, but they only got married after the death of her first husband in 2004. The economy was on its knees and the previous winter, the coldest in over 15 years, had become known as the Winter of Discontent after government policies attempting to control inflation sparked widespread industrial action, the reaction to which contributed to the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister later that same year.It would be nice to think that father figures as deluded and controlling as Norman no longer exist outside of fiction, but it’s a fair bet that they do, though they perhaps have adopted a subtler portfolio of techniques. In the darkness of his basement, Norman has assembled a horde of supplies; canned beans, rice, vegetables, oil, and even medical supplies. The tv series aired in Australia on ABCtv along with many of the other children’s serials of the time.

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