Shadows (S3, E6): The Silver Apple

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Two princes are entrusted with saving a kingdom. RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES looks at Shadows: The Silver Apple

Shadows (S3, E6): The Silver Apple 1

BROADCAST: 25 October 1978
STARRING: Peter Duncan, Prue Clarke, Simon Turner, Rachel Herbert, George Claydon, Brian Peck, Olaf Pooley
WRITER: Roy Russell (story by Philip Glassborow)
DIRECTOR: Gabrielle Beaumont

Shadows: The Silver Apple Review

When their king dies, a nation is fearful of invasion when the Queen can’t decide which of her sons is the rightful heir to replace him. They are twins, and the Queen is unable to remember which was born first.

To decide the matter, the Queen sends both sons on a quest for magical powers, decreeing that in seven days’ time she will judge their progress, and thus choose the new monarch.

Now, that series three identity-crisis I mentioned previously in this episode guide…

I’m not even convinced that this was ever really an episode of Shadows, so different is it in tone and presentation to anything else in the series. It feels like a pilot for a completely different show, aimed at a much younger (pre-school?) audience than that which Shadows was originally geared towards.

Duncan Dares! Peter Duncan in Shadows: The Silver Apple (1978)
Duncan Dares! Peter Duncan in Shadows: The Silver Apple (1978)

In that context, it doesn’t seem at all fair to judge The Silver Apple as a Shadows story. It would have been much better placed in the lunchtime slot for very young children, where its fairy-tale imagery, with actors performing against chroma-keyed backgrounds on a flying carpet would have been right at home.

It may well be that a scene in which a wizard challenges one of the princes to escape from a maze was considered too dark and creepy for little ones, with the prince threatened with certain death if he takes a wrong step. It’s a paradox which is perhaps the whole problem with The Silver Apple, which doesn’t seem able to make up its mind exactly who it’s trying to entertain.

Whether it really was made specifically for Shadows, or it was a leftover and un-broadcast pilot slotted in to make up the numbers (it seems impossible to know at this remove in time), ultimately The Silver Apple sticks out of the series like a sore thumb.

Could Shadows muster up the resources for a big finale? We’ll find out next time, with final episode Honeyann…

TRIVIA POINTS: Olaf Pooley (here playing the Wizard) was also a screenwriter, who had penned the Michael Gough-starring The Corpse (1971) (aka Crucible Of Horror ). He would collaborate with this episode’s director, Gabrielle Beaumont on Brit-horror The Godsend (1980).

Off the back of that film, Beaumont would relocate to Hollywood, becoming a leading TV director on such high profile shows as Hill Street Blues and Star Trek: The Next Generation amongst many.

Following Tina Heath’s appearance in Eleven O’Clock, Shadows’ third series features another future Blue Peter presenter: Peter Duncan, who would join the show a couple of months after Heath’s departure in 1980.

Tell us your thoughts about Shadows: The Silver Apple in the comments section!

Read more about Shadows TV series here.

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