I have very fond memories of Tom's Midnight Garden as it was shown on the BBC in the late 80s/ early 90s at 5:05pm after Newsround and just before Neighbours. I have been fortunate enough to revisit most of the programmes of my youth as they have become available on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming services but this series remained elusive. I don't know why as I remember it being brilliant. So after 25 or so years since I last saw it I finally found a copy uploaded on YouTube and consumed the whole 6 part series in one sitting. So was this series as good as I remember?
Well, when the introduction music started up I felt a huge wave of nostalgia and similar shows of the time came flooding back; The Narnia series, Moondial and Box of Delights to name a few. All those series had pretty good production value for a children's series and Tom's Midnight Garden fell into the same category.
The story itself is quite simple; When his younger brother contracts measles at the beginning of the school holidays in the summer, Tom is sent away to his Uncle Allen's flat in the country. The flat was part of a manor house and Tom finds to his amazement that as the clock strikes midnight the back door, which usually leads to a small backyard, suddenly transports him to the past to the Victorian times when the Manor House was in its prime.
The sets are real and it seems to be filmed on location in an old house rather a studio, this lends the whole story a sense of place and cohesion. The sets and costumes are excellent at setting the time and mood of the 1950's era and the child actors are solid without a hint of pantomime or melodrama. The two main young actors do a fine job and the interactions between them as Tom and Hettie are sweet and have a ring of truth. The timeslip mechanic is handled well and is gently paced. It may be too slow for some children today but I still found it engaging and intriguing in equal measure.
Even after 25 years this adaptation of Philippa Pearce's novel is still well regarded and remembered affectionately and for good reason.
I would definitely recommend this series. I am all for supporting the company and actors by purchasing the media legally however this show only had a very limited DVD run by Readers Digest and has never been re-released so the only way to view it is off of YouTube for free. But I'm just thankful to be able to watch it again and you should be too, whether it's your first time or like me a return to it after many years.