Director:  Peter Sasdy

Starring: Michael Bryant, Jane Asher, Iain Cuthbertson

A team of scientists investigate a series of terrifying apparitions.

Nigel Kneale’s superb 1972 BBC ghost story launched a very promising British Film Institute Archive Television DVD imprint, which looks set to release some landmark material which otherwise would have continued to languish in the Corporation’s vaults. Kneale’s play is a delight, presenting thought-provoking ideas and concepts within very atmospheric setting. It easily ranks alongside his groundbreaking work on the various Quatermass series. The ensemble acting seems a little dated, but the show is a timely reminder of how good television drama could be in the days when they employed actors instead of celebrities. It's also a good example of a technique that was once commonplace, but now seems to have been abandoned - a television play shot entirely on videotape.

The DVD carries Region 0 coding, and is presented in its original PAL format (unlike much of the BBC's output from the 70's, it has always been retained in the archives - many other shows now exist only in conversions from NTSC tapes recovered from overseas). The audio is mono 2.0 (at 192kbps).

 Although the DVD transfer is perfectly serviceable - and wholly representative of video recordings of that era - it lacks the final spit and polish that is routinely applied to the BBC’s Doctor Who releases. The disc comes with two Kneale scripts as DVD-ROM supplements (for The Stone Tape and the now missing The Road), as well as cursory notes and filmographies. More substantial is a commentary track with Kneale, but it lacks focus, and is rather patchy. The Institute is planning to release Kneale’s dull The Year of the Sex Olympics.


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