The Trap Door Still Captures The Imagination

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The Trap Door was a spooky 1980s British animation ITV series with dark horror vibes. GEMMA JOHNSON takes us on a journey to see what down there!

The Trap Door

TITLE: The Trap Door
CREATORS: Terry Brain and Charlie Mills
CAST: Willie Rushton and Nick Shipley
ORIGINAL RELEASE: 1986 on ITV
NUMBER OF SERIES: 2
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 40

Review of The Trap Door

If you are of a certain age, I bet you already have the theme tune in your head… “Don’t you open that trap door… cause there’s something down there” Welcome, according to my children, you are officially old like me! Honestly, this was instantly appealing to me as a child, and I wanted to see if our Junior Ambassadors would feel the same way. 

Backgrounder

A bunch of misfit monsters living in a castle, what’s not to like about this already… throw in a mysterious trap door featuring ‘horrible things’ and ‘the thing upstairs’, it is no wonder that this was an incredibly popular children’s television series.  It was released in 1986 and featured as part of ITV’s after school line up. 

There were two series of The Trap Door and a total of 40 episodes.  We started at the beginning with Episode 1 of Series 1 titled ‘Breakfast Time’.

The Episode

The thing upstairs is awake and hungry – he wants his breakfast, and he wants it NOW! Berk is frantically trying to conjure up something to satisfy his masters appetite.  Cue a gut churning feast comprising of eyeballs, slime and worms. 

But then, Berk decides to open the trapdoor, something that is strictly forbidden, and we are soon to find out why. A yellow creature with a giant head emerges and heads straight for… you guessed it, the things breakfast. 

Berk is so horrified that he forgets to shut the trapdoor allowing a giant angry red monster to emerge from its depths.  Two monsters and no breakfast for the thing… Berk is beyond concerned.  He soon gets the situation under control by multi-tasking – he feeds the monster that ate the things breakfast to… the thing.

Bravo Berk!

What did our juniors think?

Aubrey: I liked it, it was funny.  The creatures coming out of the trap door we weird, you didn’t know what was going to come out or what they were going to do.  It was clever how it was made with the models.  My favourite bit was the ending when the yellow monster got eaten.  My least favourite bit was Berk making breakfast because it looked really gross.  I wish that the episode was a bit longer. 

Finlay: It was good, and I liked how it was made.  It reminded me of how Shaun the Sheep was made with the models.  The thing upstairs is like me when I am hungry, and I want some breakfast.  My favourite thing was Berk using the mirror to get rid of the big angry red monster.  My least favourite thing was that it was a very short episode. 

How does this compare to modern day programmes?

The Trap Door was actually very unique at the time because it dared to touch upon elements of horror and dark fantasy, for this reason it really did stand out from the crowd and captured the imagination of children across the country. 

A stark difference when compared with modern day viewing where everything can seem rather alike, following the same format and lacking in opportunities to really capture the imagination.

In The Trap Door, there were key characters that you didn’t see and so you were really allowed the space to create your own interpretation.  One of the challenges with modern day programmes is that there is little room for this and as a result this can lead to a loss in creativity.  Creativity is what is needed to create curious minds that challenge what they are seeing – we need more of that. 

Would we like to see a modern version of The Trap Door – No, absolutely not.  Filming was a bit grainy, slightly clunky and this added to its dark horror vibes.  A modern update would likely see this become polished and perfected which is not what Berk would want!

Now I am off to feed my own monsters.

Stay Spooky!
Gemma, Michael, Finlay, and Aubrey
Junior Paranormal Events

What do you think of The Trap Door? Tell us your memories in the comments section below!

Watch The Trap Door Opening Theme

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