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J.G. Ballard … you know, for kidsAuthor: Simon Sellars • Apr 16th, 2008 •
According to Polygon Castle, there’s hope for the kids yet!
Since there’s never anything good on TV during the day, I switched it to the Cartoon Network, in the hopes that its programming would at least be tolerable (at least compared to the malodorous MadTV). But lo and behold, it was more than tolerable– the episode of “Squirrel Boy” (which, as a cartoon, I could grow to like, I think…) was a partial recreation of JG Ballard’s novel Concrete Island. Rodney the Squirrel gets stranded on a dividing island after a car crash, surviving there for over two weeks. Of course, it’s been ages since I read the novel, so I really only remember that bit. But still! I was amused.
Ah, that sounds truly transcendental. Here’s some more info on the episode, called “Islands in the Street”. You’re supposed to be able to watch the ep via the Cartoon Network, but I couldn’t get it to load.
The Concrete Island allusion may be accidental, but even if deliberate it wouldn’t be the first time children’s TV has wrestled with Ballard: in 1966 JGB actually wrote an episode, “Gulliver in Space”, for Jackanory, the venerable British kids’ show.
This fact was buried on IMDB, unknown and unreferenced by all scholars, fans and critics of Ballard for all this time — until 2007, when David Pringle stumbled across it. Mr Pringle was unable to believe it. But Rick McGrath took the initiative and wrote to Ballard, receiving this snippet of information from JGB in return:
Yes, I did write a script for the BBC TV’s children’s programme, Jackanory — I really wrote it for my children, who were keen viewers at the time.
Now I’m going to try and do my bit by hunting down the actual episode. But I don’t fancy my chances, given that the BBC may very well have, gulp, wiped it.
If anyone can help with unearthing footage of “Gulliver in Space”, even if it’s just providing some more concrete information as to its availability, please be in touch.
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