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Screen Test

"Hmm, on the evidence of that charming effort it looks like the future of the British film industry is in safe hands!"DRIP-DRY MICHAEL RODD (later BRIAN “DANGERMOUSE” TRUEMAN and MARK CURRY) was your presenter, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Lady and the Tramp were your clips, along with the obligatory Children’s Film Foundation effort, in this memory-test quizzery in old-fashioned ties-for-the-boys, sit-up-straight, desks ‘n’ buzzers extravaganza. The intermission heralded the Young Filmmaker of the Year competition, essentially a stuck up precocious child with a Super8 filming juddery stop motion plasticene blobs vomiting “crazy string” all over each other. Supposedly honed the talents of “many a successful contemporary Hollywood director”, whose collective talents are now to be found keeping YouTube in business.



  1. Sir Alfred Hitchcock

    September 30, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    One of those plasticine efforts on the Young Filmmaker of the Year competition was called Alien 2 and had a little green monster eating the heads off smaller people. That was it. Probably took the kid ages to do and was still better than Alien vs Predator.

    The one that really scared me was a very well done puppet animation where an old man went to a graveyard to read a book, then noticed one of the gravestones had turned into a hooded figure which advanced on him, causing him to flee in shock – but it was all a dream and he woke up in bed. Then the hooded figure burst in on his bedroom and he jumped out of the window in terror! Brr, fair gave me the heebie-jeebies.

    Remember the ones that were “too frightening to show”? I wonder what happened to those, because they’re not on YouTube, I’ve looked.

  2. David Smith

    October 1, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Always amused me how in a round featuring “our old friends Laurel and Hardy”, Rodd would always helpfully say the likes of “When Ollie – that’s the fat one…”

  3. glam_racket

    October 1, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Bizzare, military-rhythmed theme tune that changed into a different tune half way through, for no apparent reason.

    Michael Rodd’s hair never moved, not even once!

  4. Dave Nightingale

    October 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    The said theme tune was written by the incomporable Syd Dale..

  5. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    And they always showed clips from the Charlie Brown specials.

  6. Tony Hughes

    May 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Opening sequence showed a clip of Empire Strikes Back. Never actually featured in the show itself.

  7. Bluegrasslass

    September 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Sir Alfred Hitchcock – that’s the one I’ve been trying to track down! It gave me nightmares for weeks!! Anyone know the name of it?

  8. Paddy

    June 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Heavens above!! Memory is a funny thing and I must have misremembered much of it, but that surely must be the film that I have always been trying to hunt down ever since it it caused me ghastly nightmares having seen the clip on Screen Test. It haunts me to this day. See my post here:

  9. Leighroy

    September 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    That one terrified me also, the old man seeing the Grim Reaper walk up the stairs and into the room, he backs away scared and falls out of the window backwards.

    Wish I could find it but doubt I ever will sadly.

  10. Glenn A

    April 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Michael Rodd came from the same place as me, North Shields.

  11. Glenn A

    January 24, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    One good thing about it was they always showed a two minute clip of the latest Bond film. Beat some kid’s Super 8 film about a piece of plasticine hands down, indeed no one ever seemed to like this part of Screen Test.

  12. Mo

    July 8, 2015 at 11:58 pm


    Concerning that frightening stop motion animation, I have had to give myself half an hour before writing this, just to let the goosebumps subside. I have been searching for this animation for 38 years, but to no avail. I then search on the net and several people seem to have been equally terrified by this twisted piece.

    I never saw beyond the first 30 seconds or so, because I ran screaming from my living room. I could not run to mum, as she was having a bath. My older brother was next door watching it with the kindly neighbour, an elderly lady. It was dark by that time and since she did not open the back door immediately, I ran back to my house, by which time my mother had dressed quickly and ran down to see what the commotion was – she thought I was being attacked….

    It pretty much traumatised me and due to me being so shaken and the chilly time of year, I caught a cold to boot.

    Right……what I remember of the film.

    Brian Trueman described it as ‘The Man Who Meets Death’ or ‘The Man Who Met Death’. This seems to tie in with what Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Leighroy say. I recall the pictures of the animator with the great sets, looked like a dolls’ house, she was a girl and if I remember right, the girls alway surpassed the guys on stop motion animation.

    The film began blurred and then focused in – the most frightening form of a man in plasticene came to view, I lasted all of a few seconds more before succumbing. I clearly remember him having hair and large red balls for eyes and a nose. The worse thing was the eerie music…..

    I have never been that frightened ever, but with such skills at such a young age, this lady would have easily become a top-flight animator? Who is she? I would love to see this film again and experience such raw nostalgic terror.

    Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Leighroy, Bluegrasslass and Paddy, thank you all. It has taken me over 38 years to read about this film from others and I am heartened that this five year old was not the only one really, really scared!

    Let’s keep looking for it.


  13. Droogie

    September 20, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    The Super 8 contest entries always frustrated me – mainly because of jealousy that our family didn’t own any Super 8 equipment. Wasn’t 1st prize for the winner a Super 8 Camera? This seemed silly as they would’ve had to own one anyway to enter the contest!

  14. David Smith

    September 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Used to amuse me when they had a round featuring “our old friends Laurel and Hardy”, and Michael would always say “When Ollie – that’s the fat one…”

  15. Richard16378

    September 23, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Especially as the Hanna-Barbera Laurel & Hardy cartoons were never far from Children’s BBC schedules at the time.

  16. Palimpsest

    August 22, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    Can recall a clip being shown which featured some people driving a car around in a shopping mall shooting the customers. At the time I thought this was something to do with a movie about terrorism, the name of the film was never mentioned, and was surprised to discover many years later this film clip was from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

  17. THX 1139

    February 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    Along with The Man Who Met Death, in the scary stakes there was one called Fever where Brian said they could only show a short bit of it because it was too scary. All I recall is a kid in his bed, looking feverish, and a blue towel moving across the floor of its own accord. I think there was a disembodied head on top of the wardrobe too. Wonder what happened at the end?!

  18. Glenn Aylett

    February 6, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    @ THX 1139, I’m surprised Mary Whitehouse didn’t bombard the BBC with complaints about this as she was always on the warpath against Doctor Who in the seventies and eighties for it being too violent and unsuitable for children. Maybe she was otherwise engaged, we would hope.
    One thing I do remember, which wasn’t scary, was a black and white film of someone on a narrow gauge steam train listening to The Slow Train by Flanders And Swann.

    • THX 1139

      February 6, 2022 at 10:09 pm

      The ironic thing was, kids loved the horrible stuff in this and Doctor Who and the like, so Mary Whitehouse bred a generation who saw the moralists like her as total killjoys. Thus we get the 1990s, where everything went very lairy.

  19. Richardpd

    February 6, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    After Screen Test ended The Movie Show was another children’s programme which featured film clips in an observation round.

  20. Droogie

    February 7, 2022 at 11:51 am

    The one Super 8 home movie entry I recall was a crude film warning kids against accepting lifts from strangers. A shady guy in a car asks 2 young girls if they’d like to go for free ice cream. Cut to them both enjoying a 99 cone together. Then it cuts to the words Ice Cream spelt in pebbles on the grass. Then primitive stop-motion animation moves the pebbles to spell I SCREAM instead, cutting to both girls screaming in terror at the camera after their free ice cream adventure gets nasty.

  21. Glenn Aylett

    February 7, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    @ Droogie, sort of reminds me of the Grange Hill story in series 7 where Annette and Julie get approached by two shady teenagers in a worn out Cortina playing Duran Duran songs( something that would tempt a lot of schoolgirls then) and they offer them a lift into town and then take them into some woods instead and they have to escape. Rather unsettling, but a lot of kids shows had a message then and Screen Test was probably doing the same.

  22. Droogie

    February 8, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    @ Glenn Aylett. There’s a shocking 2 part episode of Diff’rent Strokes called The Bicycle Man that warns against paedophillia. Arnold and his friend Dudley befriend a seemingly kindly man who runs a cycle shop. He soon starts giving the boys “ treats” like wine and shows them pornographic cartoons as their little “secret”. He eventually tries drugging Dudley before the police and the boy’s families arrive just in time to see him arrested. I used to watch this show all the time way back but don’t remember seeing this episode screened. Maybe it was too strong for teatime viewing in the UK. I only saw it years later on YouTube and it’s still powerful stuff, though handled sensitively.

  23. Richardpd

    February 9, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    American shows in the 1980s seemed to go overboard with special episodes dealing with the social issues of the day.

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