Behind the scenes – on ‘The Changes’ in the 1970s

The Changes2

If you see men walking down the street with a telephone box it is probably an indication that there is a film crew nearby.

The Changes

This was a distinctive director with red hair called John Prowse filming a drama serial called The Changes on location in Bristol in back 1975 when wooden tripods were used with 16mm cameras and portable monitors hadn’t been developed.

The Changes1

The Changes was a BBC adaptation of the books by Peter Dickinson written and produced by Anna Home. It starred Victoria Williams, Keith Ashton and Rafiq Anwar. Jack Watson was in four episodes and my mother had what one might call a cameo role as a villager. She can be seen in the photo above in the pink headscarf.

Sonia Graham in The Changes1

Sonia Graham appeared in this scene wearing a long red cloak. I later worked with her on the vet series One by One.

The Changes3

The story explored the concept of a time when machines ground to a halt and all cars became useless. Vehicles still seemed to be used as camera mounts. John Prowes is standing on top of a doramobile in this photograph.

The Changes4

Does anyone remember seeing the outcome of all this toil?


Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

16 thoughts on “Behind the scenes – on ‘The Changes’ in the 1970s”

  1. What a fascinating set of photographs. I have never heard of ‘The Changes’ but would now like to learn more.

  2. I have discovered that ‘The Changes’ is a trilogy written by Peter Dickinson consisting of ‘The Weathermonger’, ‘Heartsease’ and ‘The Devil’s Children’. I shall look out for them.

  3. John Prowse went on to direct a few more fondly remembered childrens’ TV serials for the BBC in the 1970s – The Canal Children, King Cinder and God’s Wonderful Railway – before moving to ITV Central in the 1980s. He was to leave TV production in later life and sadly passed away a few years ago. Along with the ITV production Children of the Stones, The Changes had a major impact on those who saw it as a child – disturbing and compelling in equal measure. Shot entirely on film and with a great BBC Radiophonic soundtrack, it is the type of drama unlikely to be commissioned for such a young viewing audience these days & John Prowse was at its creative helm. In the story – adapted, as you say, from Peter Dickinson’s novels – a strange noise compels people to start smashing machinery – that explains the action happening in the photos.

      1. To my knowledge, there has never been another adaptation and never had youngsters watching the Beeb been so scared at tea time. At one point Nicky Gore ( as played by Victoria Williams ) is falsely accused of being a witch and threatened with stoning.

        I do know it was repeated only once following its initial transmission in 1975 – only adding to its ‘haunting’ quality for those of us old enough to remember. Your mother – however briefly – was part of something special that left a mark on the televisual landscape of 1970s Britain. Time for a remake perhaps … We all feel like smashing our smartphones at times.

  4. A final word – as story wise it is all far removed from that glorious quintessential family favourite for which you are rightly associated. I have just found this article from The Guardian newspaper that confirms some of my ramblings above – unfortunately, no mention of the Director John Prowse that began my thread.

    Very best wishes and good luck with your charity work, Jon

    1. Thank you! I’ll read the article with interest. Did you know John Prowse? I met up with his wife again a few years ago. They once came to stay with us in Gloucestershire.

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