A girl finds herself transported into a dolls house – is it reality or fantasy? RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES looks at Shadows: Time Out Of Mind.
BROADCAST: 4 August 1976
STARRING: Coral Atkins, Sally Lahee, Neville Barber, Brenda Cowling, Elaine Button, Katrina Rose, Craig McFarlane
WRITER: Penelope Lively
DIRECTOR: Audrey Starrett
Shadows: Time Out Of Mind Review
Liz (Button), a girl prone to daydreaming and fantasising, finds herself captivated by an old dolls’ house on a family trip to a local museum. Staring into its miniaturised rooms, Liz finds herself transported inside, with herself as a maid, and the rest of her family taking on the roles of the house’s other inhabitants.
Struggling to adapt to her new role as a servant, Liz (who finds herself renamed Eliza here) befriends the girl of the house, Helen (Rose), who not only shares the name of her real-life sister but looks exactly like her, albeit in period clothing from an earlier time.
The question is: Has Liz really been transported inside the dolls’ house, or is it all a figment of her imagination?
Spoiler: childhood daydreams come to the fore again. If the above doesn’t seem much in the way of a synopsis, there isn’t really much else to say about this particular entry, which feels more like a schools programme delivering a history lesson and was perhaps satisfying a requirement for some educational content to be shoehorned into the series.
Time Out Of Mind has its charm, but opts not to capitalise on the creepy potential of its premise, a particular disappointment since it comes from the pen of Penelope Lively, whose The Ghost Of Thomas Kempe (published in 1973) was already a beloved children’s supernatural favourite.
Nonetheless, there is a certain disorientating weirdness in the set designs for the dolls’ house interior which capture the slightly skewed perspectives and sharp angles of the miniaturised furnishings. Then again, the mustard-yellow mid-70’s stylings of the family’s real-life kitchen, seen earlier in the episode are a sight to behold in themselves, and just check out the apron modelled by Coral Atkins!
If Time Out Of Mind showed a series two trend for avoiding anything which could match the opening titles for creepiness, the next instalment of Shadows would thankfully deliver something delightfully left-field…
TRIVIA POINTS: Coral Atkins was best known to viewers as Sheila Ashton in Granada’s A Family At War (1970-72).
The only screen acting credit for Elaine Button, whilst Katrina Rose would appear in a few episodes of Thames’ odd children’s show Horse In The House (1977) before she too disappeared from the screen.
Tell us your thoughts about Shadows: Time Out Of Mind in the comments section!