Review: The Sinister Folk

Went to the NFT’s showing of Murrain, an episode of the old play strand Against The Crowd* written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, and Robin Redbreast, from the BBC’s Play for Today written by British arch-surrealist John Bowen.

Robin Redbreast

Surprisingly, Robin Redbreast was the stronger of the two: think a cross between Rosemary’s Baby, The Wicker Man and The Aphrodite Inheritance, all set in the Cotswalds, in which a newly single TV script editor finds that country folk have their own strange ways. Absolutely off its head, with bizarre naked karate in the woods, appearances by Herne the Hunter and Wayland the Smithy, and some of the weirdest dialogue you’d ever hear, it was just endlessly entertaining.


Murrain was relatively normal by comparison, a standard piece of Kneale fare in which superstition meets science – in the form of a pig farmer who thinks a local woman is really a witch and a vet who wants to protect the little old lady from those nasty bumpkins. If anything, it proved that DoPs in the 70s shouldn’t have got ambitions above their stations so many years before the invention of the Steadicam. Not really worth looking out for unless you’re a big fan of Bernard Lee (the original M in the Bond movies) or the scary dad in Sapphire and Steel Assignment 1.

The audience: As always, it’s worth reviewing the audience:

  • An above average beardy weirdy count this time, with a folk music DJ playing in the bar afterwards
  • Two audible uses of ‘the voice’
  • On my left, a young posh girl out with a ridiculously older man who clearly wasn’t a relative (shudder) and who insisted on narrating the plays to each other when they weren’t making out
  • On my right, a man with little understanding of personal boundaries and an incredible sinus problem: so bad was it, that the man to his right had to squeeze his way past Kim Newman at the end of Murrain to escape the torture in time for Robin Redbreast. I could not escape past ‘the lovers’
  • The man behind me started snoring 10 minutes before the end.

I’ve had better nights out

* My, didn’t they think they were being subversive?


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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