Sky Logo 'Raven'

(6 Parts)
by Jeremy Burnham
and Trevor Ray
Raven and Naomi

Fifteen year-old offender Raven is offered the opportunity to spend four weeks away from Ferndown borstal, staying with archaeologist Professor James Young and his wife, Georgina. After giving his probation officer the slip, Raven takes a train into the country and, after a brief set-to with the conductor, eventually arrives at the local station where he is met by Mrs Young; an amateur ornithologist, Georgina is intrigued to learn that a mysterious bird has been following Raven for his entire journey… Georgina takes Raven to meet her wheelchair-bound husband at the archaeological site he and his team are currently excavating: a series of caves deep underground, situated beneath an ancient stone circle. Here Raven meets site manager Bill Telford, sent by the government to oversee the closure of the dig: the area is to be used as a site for a new nuclear waste reprocessing plant, which will dump unwanted plutonium down in the caves. Later that day, Raven is shown his temporary lodgings at the Youngs’ cottage; when Georgina enquires as to his nickname, the boy explains that he never knew his parents: he was found as a baby in the middle of an earthwork maze, watched over by a raven… After dinner, the professor explains to his guest that he plans to appeal against the government’s edict: the caves have been a sacred area for thousands of years, originally made by druidic priests, and, according to local legend, were once used by King Arthur. The following morning, Raven returns to the site and accompanies Telford and Naomi Grant, a junior reporter from the local ‘Midshires Herald’, on a tour of the caves. Raven is taken in by Telford’s opinions, agreeing that archaeology is pointless; however, he is later brought up on this attitude by Georgina, who asks him to rethink his behaviour and take advantage of the opportunity he has been given to prove himself to the authorities. That night, Raven begins to experience strange visions, in which the mysterious bird – a Merlin – and the professor both have strange, glowing eyes... The next day, the professor encourages Raven to understand the value of uncovering the past; the boy decides to read up on local mythology, which serves to change his opinion of the professor’s work. Inspired, Raven cycles into town to pay a visit to the editor of the ‘Midshires Herald’; however, the newspaperman refuses to change his stance in supporting the nuclear plant, as he needs to keep his readership. Returning to the Youngs’ cottage, Raven is delighted when Georgina gives him a gift of a stuffed raven – or “stuffed dad” as he calls it. When the professor realises he has left some important slides back at the site, Raven offers to go instead; arriving at the dig, the boy locates the slides inside the cabin, and then decides to use the CCTV set-up to look at the caves – only to see strange symbols appear on the screens instead. Heading into the caves to investigate Raven is assailed by further visions, including the ghostly image of himself garbed as an Arthurian-like figure – which reaches out to him and brands his forehead with an ancient symbol. Staggering to the surface, Raven stumbles into the nearby stone circle and collapses… He is later found by the professor and Georgina, who dismiss the strange mark on his forehead as dirt; they are then joined by Telford, who attributes Raven’s experience to a hallucination caused by a gas leak. Raven is suspicious of the professor, believing he knew what would happen and deliberately sent him to the caves. Intrigued by Raven, Naomi decides to pay the boy a visit at the cottage to interview him for her newspaper; seeing the professor’s photos of the cave carvings, the reporter’s interest in astrology is piqued, as the symbols match the signs of the zodiac. When the professor reveals these symbols are also believed to be the signs on King Arthur’s Round Table, Raven plots their places on a map of the caves to form the shape of a primitive dragon – and Arthur was known as ‘The Dragon King’… Deciding to help Raven follow up on his vision, Naomi accompanies the boy back into the caves, where she identifies the symbol Raven has been seeing as the astrological sign for Pluto – a reference to plutonium? Seeing that the drilling Telford and his team are conducting will join two ‘opposing’ star signs, Naomi attempts to warn them; but her advice falls on deaf ears, so Raven sends Naomi to safety will he remains to help Telford. But then the strange symbols and voices return, and the cave roof collapses… Watching the disaster from the safety of the dig’s control cabin, Naomi telephones the emergency services while the professor uses the CCTV system to contact Raven; the boy is unharmed but alone – Telford is trapped behind a rock fall. A rescue team headed by the local vicar, Reverend Wakefield, quickly arrives on site, closely followed by a television news crew led by reporter Clive Castle. With Telford’s air running out, all attempts to cut through the rock face prove useless; however, Raven has the idea of using the astrological signs as a guide, and manages to identify where the rock is weakest. Just as Telford’s time runs out the rescue team finally break through: they find the site manager alive, his forehead marked with the same symbol that Raven was ‘anointed’ with; he is also clutching an ancient skull of a sixteen-year old male – the same age as Raven… Telford’s experience has given him a change of heart: he is now opposed to the ministry’s plans, and believes that Raven was sent to protect the caves. Meanwhile, Naomi takes her story to her editor, who informs her that the newspaper has had a change of ownership, and is now opposed to the nuclear waste project. Naomi then speaks to the professor, who confides in her that he is convinced that Raven is the reincarnation of Arthur, assembling his ‘knights’ for a new quest in this time of need. This wild claim is overheard by Raven: the boy decides he has had enough of being manipulated, and will return to borstal instead. Unless the professor can convince Raven to stay and lead his knights, all hope for the caves and their valuable history will be lost…

Michael Aldridge (Professor James Young), Patsy Rowlands (Georgina Young), Phil Daniels (Raven), Shirley Cheriton (Naomi Grant), James Kerry (Bill Telford), Roger Milner (Ticket Collector), Tenniel Evans (Editor [Teddy]), Ellis Jones (Reverend Wakefield [Vicar]), Blake Butler (Stone), Geoffrey Lumsden (Sir Lewis Gurney)

Directed by Michael Hart
Produced by Colin Schindler

Part 1 – 19th September 1977
Part 2 – 26th September 1977
Part 3 – 3rd October 1977
Part 4 – 10th October 1977
Part 5 – 17th October 1977
Part 6 – 24th October 1977

*Introducing Raven, Professor James Young, Georgina Young, Naomi Grant and Bill Telford