Monday, October 19, 2015

Disturbing kids TV - The Singing Ringing Tree

This article originally appeared in Beyond, my free newsletter for lovers of science and science fiction. Sign up here -

I've blogged before about the disturbing children's television that you don't see much of any more, probably because the makers would get sued. Shows like The Owl Service and Timeslip.

But there are other examples, and one that was pretty surreal at the time was The Singing Ringing Tree. This was an East German movie of a fairy tale that was serialised for television in the UK. It was disturbing for a number of reasons, but mainly because of the evil, magical dwarf who did lots of horrible things to the various animals trapped in his walled garden and seemed to delight in torturing the princess - who he turns ugly - and the prince - who he turns into a bad news bear.

I remember being particularly distressed when the dwarf created a blizzard that trapped a magical horse and the princess had to dig the horse out using a clam shell stuck on the end of a broom handle. Yes, you read that right.

The whole show pretty much freaked my young self out, and I obviously wasn't the only one: a BBC Radio Times readers' poll in 2004 voted The Singing Ringing Tree the 20th spookiest TV show ever.

You can get an idea of this weird piece of television history here -
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