One of the most pressing idle questions, on my list of things which don't matter lots but I'd like to kno, is 'The name of that TV series about an alien befriended by kiddies, and the alien is a ball-bearing. What was that? It was definitely not dreamt, as there was a tie-in book also. I read it at skool but after the series had finished. Or it may have been a two-parter. It was on about the same time as The Snow Spider but I never got into that as it was too Old for me. And it used to eat things by melting them and ate all the electricity and went up a pylon.'
This list could use some editing, true. But some of these questions start to bother you sufficiently that when you get an answer, finally, it's like getting a stone out not merely from your shoes, but your actual foot.*
I'd netted for it a couple of times but my search terms were vague and did not dredge up any satisfactory jetsam. Until noo! I can tell you that it *was* real, it was a film (probably two-parted, as I remember A CLIFFHANGER), and it was called 'Glitterball'.
The name really, really doesn't add anything.
Some kiddies find a ball bearing (a large one, about the size of a boster marble**, resolutely unglittery) in... a location, possibly abandoned house or their clubhouse. Unsalubrious old bloke wants to Stop Them, for some reason. Motivation unclear. It absorbs energy from food and electricity, did not find cheese sufficient, chocolate good, rolling up a pylon better. The cliffhanger was about the pylon. It starts rolling up it- can defy gravity, obvs.- and Companion Child shouts 'You can't! You'll explode!' (which tbh we'd have liked to see), and in response the ball gives him what you imagine is a 'Ha, puny doubting human' look, or perhaps 'What, me worry?' (ball bearings give few clues) and goes on merrily rolling along. Eats electricity. Does not explode. Is now superpowered, perhaps the army is arriving, can't tell you what happened 'cos missed second part. Was on over xmas. Had presents to deal with.
It was made in 1977, which may explain the name, but certainly wasn't when I was watching it. I read the book in early Middle School, so would've been about 8: christ, 1990! Children's telly likes to stretch its pennies. This does however reveal an interesting quirk about how I used to view the world shown on kidTV.
Most things I watched seem to have been made in the late '70s. Certainly, most educational or safety programming, the stuff shown in Special Assembly, was. Therefore, to me: everyone on television was 10-15 years out of date, especially if it was something gritty and realistic promising horrible deaths. Yet I never noticed. Mind, there was a definite orange-flares-rainbow-stripes-feathered-h
So there it is. Glitterball. Not that satisfying in itself, but I've been able to mull over exactly *why* I thought everyone on telly was required to be a bit faded, and why I have more nostalgia for late-70s kidstuff which I probably never would have seen. And I did find a really spiffy time-wasting site in the course of looking for the damned ball-bearing: TV Cream. That's the page for the Children's Film Foundation, which made Glitterball, and probably other things you vaguely remember watching. Anyway, this is one of those excellent litely-sarcastic sites about British stuff with tons of entries, ideal for when you get fed up of everyone writing 'x, just x' on TVTropes. Additional spiffiness: I noticed one of the commenters was Applemask, who has the- THE!- finest lot of PFI's and olde addes on Youtube. Trenchant and humourous sometimes-political commentary also.
You can't find Glitterball online, 'least not that I've found beyond one page of searching, but that's not really the point. I don't want to watch it again, really- as much as be assured of its existence, and that it was as meagre as remembered... yet in spite of being a bit pants it kept you entertained. Or something. The main result is that you find some other quality way to eat up hours and have one less meaningless question chuvvling*** at you.
Now, on to finding out what was that Saturday series with the magic table.
*This happened. It was only a tiny stone, but still, stone. In foot. Where stones don't belong. It was in there for at least 8 months.
**We called it a Boster. Wiki sez 'bosser'; what do you call it? The ones which are big marbles, about 1"+. I have a green and white cat's eye superboster called Solomon. I haven't actually played him yet but he would ANNIHILATE the floor if used.
I like marbles.
***Chuvvling is a new word which you can translate from context, and use if you like.
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