Baby, broadcast 6 November 1976
The best loved of all the episodes, this kept many a child awake at night; it still has the power to frighten. Young vet, Peter Gilkes (a roaring Simon MacCorkindale (Jaws 3D, 13Hrs) has moved to the country and joined old soak of a vet Dick Pummery (T.P. McKenna from The Beast in the Cellar and Straw Dogs). His pregnant wife, Jo (Jane Wymark), is less impressed, her husband’s exuberant tales of how amazing Dick is in contrast to her more down-to-earth issues with the building work going on in their new house, their baby and a runaway cat. Peter opts to have a go at some DIY and in the absence of the builders starts to knock part of an interior wall down. Within a cavity he finds a large, sealed clay pot and sets to work opening it (‘fetch the kitchen tongs!’)
Within they find the possibly ancient mummified remains of an unidentifiable creature. Goaded by the builders who urge her to get rid of the thing, Jo wants it out of the house as soon as possible. It is revealed that the fields around their house have previously seen the death of many animals and it now lies barren. Peter and Dick are much more scientific in their approach and decide an autopsy is required to satiate their curious minds. After Jo attempts to burn it, Peter locks it in a cupboard in their nursery-to-be and pretends he has thrown it away. The tension is ramped up as Dick brings his wife over for drinks and Jo and Peter’s relationship continues to be further stretched; the viewer, of course, simply wants to find out what the ‘thing’ is but Kneale keeps you hanging on for an eternity.The ‘reveal’ is, of course, a disappointment but the build-up is second to none – Jo’s increasing hysteria and Dick and Peter’s bullish obliviousness are great devices. The lack of music highlights to remoteness of both the area and the people, witchcraft and the ways of the land outlasting both man and beast.