Bunch Of Fives: John Hart | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North-Easterners growing up in the eighties and nineties can relive all the fear of their youth in a new podcast. Everybody Dies In Sunderland (named after Sid James’ manager’s legendary response to learning that his client had passed away onstage at the Sunderland Empire) offers a dark, yet comedic look back in time at all the crimes that at the time seemed to happen all the time. Presented by John, Claire and Gareth Everyone Dies In Sunderland is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Deezer and other platforms.

A huge part of the fear in the eighties and nineties was the truly nightmarish television unsuspecting children were exposed to. John from the podcast tells us what troubled him the most…

The Animals of Farthing Wood
At Everyone Dies In Sunderland we don’t have a spirit animal. We have a blighted wood full of spirit animals on a quest to find a new home, a *cartoon* for *children” with a body count only slightly lower than the House of Blue Leaves scene in Kill Bill. If you’re wondering what happened to your favourite Farthing Wood animal, they died. Horrifically. Adder died on a suicide mission avenging the murder of Fox and Vixen’s cub. Badger got dementia. Pheasant watched a family eat his wife. The Broom Cupboard may as well have had Andi Peters and Edd the Duck introducing the House of Blue Leaves scene from Kill Bill.

A full on body horror where a boy shapeshifts into a dog whenever he gets excited. As Claire pointed out during one episode of Everyone Dies In Sunderland, this must have been hell during puberty. Think of it as a whimsical teatime take on American Werewolf in London. You’d think the makers would run out of problems which could be solved by a child briefly turning into a Collie pretty quickly, but this somehow ran for 69 episodes.   The actor who played the boy was called – and probably still is – Edward Fidoe. 

Saved by the Bell
Specifically the episode “Model Students” in which Zack Morris’ zany High School antics involve taking secret photos of the girls getting changed to go swimming and making calendars with the pictures. The calendars are a huge hit and the girls are delighted. The Saved by the Bell Wiki laments “most of the content of the episode would not be allowed to air today because of the #MeToo movement”.

Century Falls
Actually this one is pretty great. Russell T Davies followed up the earlier – and also pretty great – Dark Season (children fight an ancient evil under their school and some Nazis inside it, one of them grows up to be Kate Winslet) with the unremittingly bleak tale of a remote Yorkshire village which once tried to summon a demon with predictably disastrous consequences. For some reason they have another go. There’s some psychic twins, a sentient waterfall, a ghostly little girl, and what one reviewer called a “sense of oppression and dread that is unusual for a children’s show”. Quite why anyone thought it would make sense to have it on between Newsround and Neighbours is another matter.

Byker Grove
How could we not? But no, while it made us worry about the dangers of paintballing way more than we had to, PJ getting blinded was simply too silly to scare us. No, the most alarming moment of Byker Grove was Jemma Dobson dying when she plugged the TV in. Yep, if these shows weren’t alarming enough, your telly may end up killing you. 

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