Horrific ‘in-betweenness’: spatial and temporal displacement and british society in 1970s children’s supernatural television’

Fryers, Mark (2020). Horrific ‘in-betweenness’: spatial and temporal displacement and british society in 1970s children’s supernatural television’. Supernatural Studies, 6(2) pp. 30–58.

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Abstract

The 1970s in Britain were a period marked by economic and industrial strife and a cultural emphasis on nostalgia. It was also a televisual “golden age” that was echoed in a rich seam of horror and supernatural television that was also reflected in an equally vibrant period for supernatural programming for children. These included the series The Changes, Sky, King of the Castle, The Georgian House, Shadows and Come Back Lucy, which consistently explored the fracturing and dislocation of time and space. Alongside these, children were constantly warned of the dangers of playing in the spaces of industry and agriculture by exposure to a series of Public Information Films broadcast on television that both traded on the representational paradigms of the horror film and which consequently imbricated the spaces of work and industry as potentially deadly. As this article will exemplify, a wider societal context of childhood fear was evoked on television that spoke to the attendant fear and uncertainty of the interstitial spaces between childhood and adolescence, adolescence and adulthood. This “horrific in-betweenness” explored so consistently on British screens speaks equally to the socio-cultural contexts of 1970s Britain, long established British childhood literary tropes as well as deeper anxieties surrounding the intractability of discrete parameters of childhood.

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