September 9, 2009
You know, it really boggles the mind just how short-sighted were the people working behind the scenes in TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Why on earth did they assume no-one in the future would want to watch their programmes once they had been broadcast (and possibly repeated once). I’m sure it was all down to the Unions, and contracts for actors etc that made them think there would be too much red tape involved in getting approval for further repeats (and no comprehension that in the future there would be 1000 channels rather than the 3 that existed at the time) so they just wiped the reels of video tape and used them again for other shows….. and consequently a treasure trove of important stuff like early Dr Who…and the first series of Ace of Wands…and much much more was lost forever.
In the music recording industry they didn’t wipe all the tapes of Frank Sinatra/Doris Day/Johnny Ray etc just because the 1950s had turned into the 1960s. MGM didn’t destroy 1930s Hollywood Musicals. But TV, and certainly British TV in particular, seemed to place little value on anything once it had been broadcast.
“Ace of Wands” ran for 3 seasons 1970 to 1972. The plots centre on a Magician known only as Tarot who along with his girlfriend and sidekick gets mixed up in fighting evil as well as his day job as an Illusionist. Girlfriend and sidekick both changed between the first and third series but Tarot was always played by Michael MacKenzie. Only the third and final season is available on DVD and very entertaining it is too. Supposedly a children’s show originally broadcast on ITV around 5 pm it doesn’t seem too juvenile (lets call it “Kidult”….. which lets face it…..most Fantasy and Science Fiction is…..) and although it stands the test of time quite well you do need to engage a certain “Austin Powers” mindset not to be put off by the clothes and hairstyles. At the time I envied the hero Tarot’s groovy pad. I wanted to live in a penthouse/warehouse where I could keep my motorbike in the living room too. Sometimes he drove an Alfa Romeo but in other episodes he was seen driving one of the naffest sports cars ever made…..a VW/Porsche 914 !!
PS: Surprisingly in this box set one of the “villains” Tarot has to pit his wits against is none other than Brian Wilde, best remembered for his later appearances on TV as Mr Barrowclough the bumbling prison warder in the comedy “Porridge” and as Foggy Dewhurst in “Last of the Summer Wine”. He actually makes quite a convincing bad guy with his powers of super-hypnosis. I’m looking forward to watching the last episode tonight.
PPS: And I must mention the fab theme tune with its “cosmic” lyrics like so:-
Jet white dove
Snow black snake
Time has turned his face
From the edge of mystery
Where running is no race
Fate reaches out a hand
To touch the edge of destiny
A story without end.