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Tom’s Midnight Garden

THRICE-ADAPTED SCHOOL library legend and lunchtime “reading club” fave. The PHILIPPA PEARCE-penned tome was first published in 1958, showing up on TV ten years later in black and white as part of the schools programme MERRY-GO-ROUND. Dramatised in three parts in colour in 1974, it was remade in six parts in 1989 in an almost flawless adaptation, infinitely preferable to the overproduced Narnia series of the same era. The story is well-known: 50s boy Tom (JEREMY RAMPLING in 1989) goes to stay with his Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan Kitson somewhere in Cambridgeshire, expects boredom, finds the garden that only appears when the clock strikes thirteen, travels into the late Victorian era (60-odd years before), meets Hatty (CAROLINE WALDRON in 89), she gradually grows older while he stays the same age (“Time No Longer”, “Exchange Time For Eternity”), they skate from Castleford (a fictionalisation of Cambridge, devoid of its university), to Ely, he disappears from Hatty’s view on the way back, he fails to find the garden on his last night, and discovers that owner of the house Mrs Bartholomew (RENEE ASHERSON in 89) is in fact Hatty, in her old age. 1989’s version, directed by CHRISTINE SECOMBE, captures the essence of the book, and remains one of the finest of its ilk ever made.

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