Episode 8: On opening the door, Roger finds a table full of paper owls - the same as Alison had been making, but these were put there by Nancy. At the house, Gwyn has returned but is told by Nancy they are leaving. Struggling through the heavy rain with their cases, Gwyn tells her he is staying and she leaves him behind. Alison has become completely possessed by the legend and collapses. Huw takes her inside as scratches and feathers appear all over her. In panic, Roger attempts to help, but Gwyn refuses. Finally, Roger manages to talk Alison out of her state by realising the pattern on the plates was of flowers, not owls.
Transmitted: 8 February 1970
The Owl Service was an eight-part television series based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Alan Garner. Produced in 1969 and televised over the winter of 1969-1970, the series was remarkably bold in terms of production. It was the first fully scripted colour production by Granada Television and was filmed almost entirely on location at a time when almost all TV drama was studio-bound. It used editing techniques such as jump cuts to create a sense of disorientation and also to suggest that two time periods overlapped. For the series, the book was adapted in seven scripts (later stretched to eight) by Garner and was produced and directed by Peter Plummer. The direction was quite radical and seemed to be influenced by the avant-garde, a noted contrast to what might be expected of a children's serial.
Following the success of the novel, which had won the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Award for children's literature, there was much interest in turning the story into a TV series with three companies vying for the rights. In the end, during the summer of 1968, Granada won out, approaching Alan Garner to script the series himself. The director chosen was Peter Plummer, who also acted as Producer. Since the novel was based on real locations, Plummer opted to use the same places where possible and although the scenes in the house were filmed in a manor near Liverpool, the rest of the filming took place in Wales (where the story was set). Filming began on location on 11 April and was completed 20 June, a few studio scenes were shot for the production, with these wrapping up on 3 July 1969. Trailers for the series were also shot, featuring material not used in the finished show.
The theme music was the traditional folk piece "Tôn Alarch" played on the harp by Jean Bell, while the incidental music was taken from stock sources. The title sequence featured a hand shadow depicting an owl in flight, photographs of the valley and a flickering candle along with sound effects.
The parts of the three main characters Gwyn, Roger and Alison were played by Michael Holden, Francis Wallis and Gillian Hills respectively. The ages of the characters are never stated, but in contrast to the novel, where they were fifteen, for this adaptation they were slightly older, often considered seventeen. Hills and Wallis themselves were in their early twenties at the time of production, while Holden was nineteen. For the older characters, well-known character actors Edwin Richfield, Dorothy Edwards andRaymond Llewellyn were employed playing Clive, Nancy and Huw. The role of Margaret was never cast - the character being frequently present, but never seen. Both writer and producer appeared in the production - Garner as one of the villagers and Plummer in a photograph as the deceased Bertram. Many of the cast later commented on the lasting effects the serial had on them, Holden commenting that it felt like "we were personally living the whole thing", while Hills said that "it was all so real, it was frightening".Llewellyn said in 2008 that the role of Huw has haunted him ever since.