Children Of The Stones

Catalogue No.


Lets leave this to Stewart Lee, expert in all things COTS (he even made a radio documentary about it!) to say something…

In the Seventies, television programs passed by once, like flickering dreams, or maybe twice if repeated, and then disappeared. There were no DVDs. There were no videos. There were no catch-up facilities, no streaming services or content provision platforms. Sometimes you began to doubt you’d really ever seen the thing you remembered so vividly. Was there really a strange Spanish TV short, glimpsed late in my unsupervised Friday night viewing, about a man who became trapped in a phone box and was delivered to a cave full of similarly imprisoned Spaniards? And then the great rediscoveries began.

It’s doubtful that I saw all six episodes of Children Of The Stones when it was first broadcast in January and February 1977. I would have only been eight years old, but maybe I was able to plug some gaps when it was repeated, for the second and final time, eighteen months later. I had a dim awareness that I had seen something that, though pitched as a children’s program, presumed an intelligence and curiosity beyond the usual assumptions about the pre-adolescent audience, and had subtexts about adult fears and longings that the usual gatekeepers might have deemed inappropriate.

Children of The Stones made me love those long lines of sarsens, and set me on a lifelong megalithic quest to view similar sights. I read up on Ancient Sites in Janet and Colin Bord’s seminal slice of Seventies Earth Mystery lit, Mysterious Britain. Children of The Stones’ Milbury was clearly Avebury. How I longed to see it, and all the sites in the Bords’ book, pestering my grandparents to release me, however briefly, from the car to view them whenever we passed anywhere near. But they never would. “You and your old ruins!”, my gran would chide.

Indeed, in the last Summer of 1987, just nineteen and with access to both a driving license and a borrowed car for the first time ever, I used the luxury of my own agency to drive to Avebury, discovering it in the simmer dim of a fading September evening, where it confirmed, amongst other things, the magic of that brightly-brain-burned children’s show.

In the ‘90s, it was easy enough to find Children of The Stones on DVD and video, and as the web mushroomed into being fans reached out to each other from decades of isolation to confirm their almost instincts almost true. But despite all these critical rehabilitations and archival rediscoveries one key element of the show remained hidden; Sidney Sager’s sinister vocal score, which, it seemed, hipped a generation of pre-teen future heads to the skull-buzzing possibilities of the polyphonic vocal drone, to the kind of guttural vocalese and wordless wails you normally only hear in the most extreme Seventies Italian cinema soundtracks. The normally family friendly Ambrosian Singers turned as sinister as Milbury’s lobotomised villagers, and were somehow siphoned subversively into malleable minds, at teatime, on a school day.

But Jonny Trunk and Alan Gubby have worked their usual magic, retrieving and restoring the score. That which was lost is found. And here at last are Sager’s Children of The Stones cues, stripped of context and allowed to shine alone, obsidian jewels finally set where they belong, in the black three pronged crown of the music of the macabre. Happy Day!

Stewart Lee, writer, clown, seeker

The LP came out complete with a poster of the famous painting and a limited set of postcard (5 postcards in all) that were misprinted very badly by the terrible (and now defunkt) company called Awesome Merchandise, who ripped us off and only made about half the cards they were supposed to make and ran off with the money and never explained why. So if you can find a copy with the poster and all five cards you have done well.