Century Falls

Century Falls

1993 - United Kingdom

Russell T Davies, best known for his work on shows like Doctor Who and Queer as Folk, crafted a lesser known but equally compelling series in 1993 titled Century Falls. This British television series, consisting of six episodes, merges elements of mystery, supernatural phenomena, and small-town drama, creating a narrative that is both eerie and captivating.

Davies had already established a solid reputation through his work on the teenage dramas Dark Season and Children's Ward. The director of Dark Season, Colin Cant, was assigned to helm another children's series for BBC1. However, he found little enthusiasm for the existing script. Consequently, he reached out to Davies, requesting an alternative. In response, Davies swiftly penned the first episode of Century Falls, which was then commissioned as a full series. It turned out to be a drama unlike any other series previously seen at this time of the day.

Century Falls

Set in the fictional Yorkshire village of Century Falls, the series follows an overweight and lonely 14-year-old girl named Tess Hunter (Catherine Sanderson), who moves to the village with her pregnant mother (Heather Baskerville) after the death of her father. Mrs Hunter hopes that the move will encourage Tess to make new friends. But Tess soon realises that the village has a guilty secret; a secret which seems to threaten her happiness and that of her unborn sister. There are no children in the village. From the outset, Century Falls exudes an unsettling atmosphere, with its close-knit community harbouring dark secrets and an aura of mysticism. Tess quickly befriends Ben Naismith (Simon Fenton) and his blind twin sister Carey (Emma Jane Lavin), who reveal to her the strange and sinister history of the village.

Forty years ago, a group of psychics conducted a ritualistic ceremony in a nearby temple to conjure an imaginary being and harness its energy. However, the ritual went disastrously wrong, causing a massive fire and the collapse of a stone wall. Since that day, no children have been born in Century Falls. Ben and Carey were born outside the village because their mother left, knowing what would happen. The twins have now returned to visit their uncle Richard (Bernard Kay), with the intention of recreating the psychic being. As Tess delves deeper into the history of Century Falls, she discovers the villagers' extraordinary abilities and the perilous consequences of these powers.

Century Falls

As the tale slowly unfolds, each new reveal appears to turn the plot on its head with unexpected consequences. The show's pacing is deliberate, allowing the mystery to unfold gradually and keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Each episode reveals just enough to maintain intrigue, with twists and turns that keep the audience guessing.

Russell T. Davies's writing in Century Falls is sharp and intricate, weaving together a complex narrative that delves into themes of loss, betrayal, the supernatural and time travel. Simon Fenton had played Tom's brother in Tom's Midnight Garden and by the time he made Century Falls he'd completed no less than sixteen commercials and voice overs. In 1993, he told the cult publication TV Zone; "When I first read the script I was very confused and it took about three read-throughs to totally understand it."

Century Falls

In a tale reminiscent of the adult horror film Rosemary’s Baby, it transpires that Mrs Hunter has been deliberately led to Century Falls so that a horrific evil force can be created in the unformed mind of her unborn child. The subject was a far cry from the standard fayre that was being offered in the after-school television slot, but in pushing the boundaries of acceptability the teenage audience came of age.

While Century Falls may not have achieved the same level of fame as some of Davies's later works, it remains a testament to his talent as a storyteller. The series combines a haunting atmosphere, well-developed characters, and a compelling narrative to create a memorable and engaging drama. Its exploration of supernatural themes and small-town dynamics continues to resonate, making Century Falls a hidden gem worth discovering for fans of mystery and the supernatural.

Published on June 12th, 2024. Written by Marc Saul for Television Heaven.

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