Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Siri Neal, Tony Sands, Jacqueline Pearce, Joanna Dunham and Valerie Lush
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 04 May 2015

I can’t be the only person who views the shows they loved as children through rose tinted glasses. Revisiting these icons of our youth can often lead to variable results, from horror, for me that was The Tomorrow People, to reassuring confirmation with shows like Sapphire and Steel.

Moondial (1988. 6 Eps) is a supernatural/time travel show directed by Colin Cant from the original novel by Helen Cresswell.

The story tells of Minty (Siri Neal) who, following the recent demise of her father, is sent to stay with her aunt Mary (Valerie Lush), following which her mother is involved in a car accident and falls into a coma, essentially stranding Minty and giving the plot a rational as to why she does not leave when odd things start to happen.

Minty is a strange girl, evidently not like other children her age, something which is noticed by the groundskeeper (Arthur Hewlett), who is convinced that the child is the one that can help the restless spirits which haunt the house. Exploring the grounds of her aunt’s impressive house she happens across the moondial, which allows her to travel back into the past, the how’s and whys of this are never successfully explained.

Travelling back into the past Minty meets Tom (Tony Sands) and Sarah (Helena Avellano). Tom is a nineteenth century low born kitchen urchin slowly dying of consumption, whereas Sarah is an eighteenth century child who is continually taunted by other children as a ‘devils child’ because of her birthmark, a situation not helped by the fact that her personal maid also torments her. The maid herself, as played by Jacqueline Pearce, also turns up in the story as a contemporary psychic. Minty must strive to help the children avoid their allotted fates if she is to quieten the spirits which haunt her aunt’s house.

The show is a good example of eighties children’s show for both good and ill. The acting is a little too theatrical, probably to make up for the lack of money spent on the show. The one saving grace is the location and the grand house is put to good use. The music is alright but has not dated well.

On the plus side the show does not presume that the target audience are either idiots or that they cannot be shown disturbing images of what violence and credulity actually look and feel like.

For a show which is now fairly long in the tooth you get a surprising number of extras, usually on a show of this age your lucky if you get one, but the set has four, including two commentaries by the director for the first and last episodes, an interview with Cant (13 min, 04 sec) discussing the genesis of the show and the casting of Siri Neal and finally an interview with the Moondial girl herself Siri Neal (14 min) where she discusses the show and shares some personal memories.

It’s not a bad show and its faults are ones of age and the time it was made. It still remain a children’s story with a very dark edge.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.