Horse in the House

1977 | United Kingdom

Hoping to grab the same reins of popularity as the horsey tales of Follyfoot and The Adventures of Black Beauty a few years before, Horse in the House was a five-year mission for executive producer Sue Turner, who had been determined to bring to the screen US writer William Corbin's original novel. 

Adapted from American to English settings by Rosemary Anne Sisson, who had previously contributed scripts to the aforementioned Follyfoot, Horse in the House is about a schoolgirl who has trained a stallion on trust. Living in the English countryside with her two precocious sisters, Diana, a thirteen-year old novel writer-and Katie, who has ambitions to become the first woman astronaut, Melanie Webb brings her horse, Orbit, whom she has devoted her life to, into the family home for a bet while her parents are away. But there are others interested in the horse and when it is kidnapped, she enlists the help of her brother, Richie, to set off on a desperate venture to save it. Soon the entire family are involved. 

The story has all the trappings of a Girl's Own tale, with nailbiting drama and silent villains who lurk in corners and draw heavily on cigarettes. The horse used in the series, Mandao, a 16-hands high liver-chestnut stallion, was an ex-racer once valued at £20,000 until a training injury ended its career and it was sold for 110 guineas (approximately £120). Some time later, Sue Turner came across the horse and when she became Head of Children's programmes at Thames Television she was able to realise her five-year ambition, appointing Ruth Boswell (The Tomorrow People & The Molly Wopsies) as producer. A second series was made in 1979 but with a different set-up. Instead of a six-part adventure, this series of six episodes was split into three two-part tales, and with Melanie now working for racing trainer Bill Otterby at his stables, the format was more akin to Follyfoot, although a pale imitation.

Published on December 21st, 2018. Review based on original TV Times article.