TV Cream

TV: S is for...


WRETCHED SMALL-SCREEN half-sibling of [cref 2647 HEIDI]. Similarly badly-dubbed, similarly never-ending and similarly peopled-by-ugly-kids “fable” dealing with the plight of the titular dirty-faced tinker (PATRICK BACH), one of those Romany circus-boy types who only seem to exist in Enid Blyton books or foreign imports. Convinced his mother is a famous trapeze artist (naturally), Silas first tames, then steals, a black horse from his farmer master. Befriending a couple of other kids (Godik and Jenny) and fleeing from the evil “Shrew”, he proceeds to embark upon a series of smuggler-thwarting adventures only slightly shorter in duration than the 100 Years War and just as depressing. Sappy denouement, with Silas adopted by a rich family, bizarrely deflected by the return of Godik (on a grey horse) and the pair, erm, riding off into the sunset.



  1. David Pascoe

    July 22, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Not to mention the sword swallower who Silas would always fuck up by playing his recorder just as the sword swallower had a blade halfway down his throat.

    Very stirring theme tune but very mournful end credits music as I recall.

  2. Greg Taylor

    August 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Same tune, different arrangement. Christian Bruhn’s music, with the Munich Brass and Strings.

  3. Dan

    January 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Looking at it 25 years later – on you tube – it’s not bad at all, and compares very favourably to current kids TV, you can almost smell the Deutchmarks they burnt through making it. Better still is Jack Holborn made by the same production team. Watching the German originals shows much more thoughtful and skilled performances than the (hilariously badly) dubbed versions.

    And they were much harsher on child stars then. The opening episode shows Patrick Bach standing against a board having knives thrown at him as part of a circus act The knives look dangerously real and I don’t think the fear on his face is an act.

    Without the dubbing it is also a lot less cheerful in overall feel – the message appears to be :

    “he’s a clever kid to save his own skin but if the world was a nicer place he wouldn’t have to”

    • George White

      March 4, 2021 at 12:32 am

      Reminded of Jack Holborn, listening to the latest Pure Cinema Pod with Quentin Tarantino, who says that basically Monte Markham, the American actor who appeared n Holborn as the pirate Trumpet, though better known here as Blanche’s gay brother in the Golden Girls, is one of the actors whose career inspired the potential post-Manson career of Rick Dalton in once Upon a Time in Hollywood, saying that anything Markham did in the 70s, early 80s, Rick Dalton potentially would have done.

      Imagine Dicaprio here.

  4. George White

    March 21, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Watching it – and this sort of serial is crying out for a Danger 5-type spoof – blind nursemaid, a comedy horse, abusive father figure, Silas nooses someone, there’s a German Nicholas Lyndhurst-type, dog on a tightrope, Silas as a clown with a moustache, entertains idiot peasants by riding a horse and tunelessly playing a flute, Silas tames a bear, chased by a comedy nobleman, taken in by a nice rich family and their hearty housekeeper, then has to escape with his Lyndhurst-mate – the weirdly named Bein-Godek, meet Slugworth and the Princess from Conan the Barbarian, and then Bein-Godek and Silas ride into the sunset- almost wondering was it intended as a comedy…
    Jack Holborn is much more conventional – a New Zealand coproduction, weirdly while Silas himself Patrick Bach supplied voices for the German dub of Lord of the Rings, David Weatherley, of the British navy played Barliman Butterbur in Jackson’s films. It’s impressive, with whole market sets and the tribal chief is an appealing Sydney Greenstreet-esque grotesque essayed by famed Maori showbander Prince Tui Teka (for Irish audiences, this would be akin to Joe Dolan as a vicious knacker), and then they introduce Arab slavers, but only in the background. Then, they all return home to England/Dubrovnik and all the adults get hanged, and Jack reunited with his mum.
    These series were shown in a Winter Holiday slot, on ZDF, others in the slot – Timm Thaler and Patrick Pacard, these were HUGE in Germany, big, expensive treats – imagine the Box of Delights level. Fondly remembered by German fortysomethings.

    Now going to watch Barriers – which although made by Tyne-Tees, was shot in Germany, has the likes of Brigitte Horney, former Weimar film actress turned portrayer of aunts in Heidi and the German-Canadian Huckleberry Finn and Siegfried Rauch. Might write such a spoof myself.
    What do you think, TVC?

  5. Richardpd

    March 4, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    I remember CBBC showed this at least 3 times, it was a bit tedious once a week, but at least one run was in the summer holidays, so was a bit more manageable.

    The dubbing could be hit & miss, but a bit better than some of the earlier Stories From Europe.

    I do remember Silas calling a church pipe organ Thousand Flutes & getting to have a play in one episode.

    Another memory was The Shrew falling off a wall, down a steep bank into a river with hardly a scratch.

    She admitted she was a former circus performer & knew how to fall, Uncle Albert style.

  6. Sidney Balmoral James

    March 5, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Another depressing series for children – perhaps the brownest decor, costumes and indeed scenery ever committed to celluloid. Silas let us all down by not letting the Shrew get crushed by a water wheel in one episode. I appreciate the need for not giving children a false impression of life, but there seem to have been a lot of very depressing serials on children’s telly when I was small. See also that startling BBC series The December Rose in which the word ‘horse shit’ was actually uttered (this was before 6pm!) – ended with Patrick Malahide getting blown up by a booby-trapped Gladstone bag on a boat.

  7. Richardpd

    March 5, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    I remember The December Rose, the boy who played Barnacle was interviewed on Blue Peter and mentioned he had a stunt double to jump through a sugar glass window.

    It had lots of scenes at night to fit the gloomy atmosphere of the Victorian East End waterfront.

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