TV UK TV

Clifton House Mystery, The (ITV 1978, Sebastian Breaks, Ingrid Hafner)

Clifton House Mystery Title Card

In scary children’s drama serial The Clifton House Mystery, the Clare family, led by concert pianist Timothy, buy the run down home of Mrs Betterton. Along with the house they also buy several household items from the house at an auction, including an old army helmet and a strange painting. Daughter Jenny is also given a music box by Mrs Betterton’s grand-daughter Emily. Soon strange things are happening and the Clare sons, Ben and Steven discover a secret, walled up room in the house that contains a skeleton!

When ghostly happenings continue to happen, the boys decide to call in ghost expert Milton Guest who is able to get to the bottom of the mystery.

A highly scary and tense atmosphere hangs over the whole series, the whole “occult” thing was in the media a lot at the time with big screen movies like The Omen and The Exorcist being very successful. It’s easy to see why The Clifton House Mystery made a lasting impression on younger viewers who saw it at the time and has maintained a solid reputation despite not being repeated (outside of a barely seen satellite channel run in the early 1990’s). Whilst this would have been pretty disquieting for a younger audience it is very subtle in the way it shows things whereas something like a modern day equivalent like The Spiderwick Chronicles pulls no punches in its quest to scare the audience.

Peter Sallis pops up in a surprising number of classic cult kids shows from The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Catweazle and here as ghost hunter Milton Guest.

production details
UK / ITV – HTV / 6×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 8 October – 12 November 1978

Writers: Harry Moore, Daniel Farson / Music Advsior: Sidney Sager / Music played by Kenneth Mobbs / Production Design: Ken Jones / Executive Producer: Patrick Dromgoole / Producer: Leonard White / Director: Hugh David

cast
SEBASTIAN BREAKS as Timothy Clare
INGRID HAFNER as Sheila Clare
AMANDA KIRBY as Jenny
JOSHUA LE TOUZEL as Steven
ROBERT MORGAN as Ben
PETER SALLIS as Milton Guest