Directors – Peter Duguid & Vic Hughes, Teleplay – Anthony Read, Producer – Vic Hughes, Designer – David Richens. Production Company – Thames Television.
Andrew Ellams (Matthew Gore), Anabel Worrell (Albertine Meyer), Angela Galbraith (Aunt Cissie Bosworth), Prentis Hancock (Arnold Meyer), Ed Bishop (Dr Deacon), James Hazeldine (David Gore), Michael Crompton (Luke Stone), Jeremy Bulloch (Roy Landis), Glynis Brooks (Voice of Chocky), Carol Drinkwater (Mary Gore), Brian De Salvo (Doctor)
In the aftermath of Chocky’s departure, Matthew Gore has excelled in school, winning prizes for his artwork. His parents go away to Hong Kong on a business trip and leave Matthew in the care of his Aunt Cissie. Exploring the local area, Matthew discovers a windmill and realises he has been drawing pictures of it without ever having seen it. There he meets Albertine Meyer, a girl his own age who has been raised home-schooled by her father and is about to go on to Cambridge on a scholarship. Matthew discovers that when he is with Albertine they can share thoughts, while Albertine has been creating artwork that Matthew recognises as being pictures of Chocky’s homeworld. Matthew believes that Albertine has been touched by Chocky but she rejects the idea. Meanwhile, Dr Deacon has sent Luke Stone to pose as Cissie’s gardener and spy on Matthew. When Matthew’s connection to Albertine is discovered, Deacon plots to take her away to obtain the information she knows.
Chocky (1984) was a children’s television mini-series from UK’s Thames Television that was a modest success. Based on the short story and novel by celebrated SF writer John Wyndham, it told the story of a young boy whose invisible companion turns out to be an alien visitor. This was the first of two sequels, and was followed by Chocky’s Challenge (1986), although both of the sequels were original works written directly for the screen building on Wyndham’s story. All three serials come in six half-hour episodes. Chocky’s Children contains repeat performances from Andrew Ellams as Matthew and James Hazeldine as Matthew’s father, who appears only at the beginning and end, while Carol Drinkwater, who plays Andrew’s mother, appears only in the first episode. Also reappearing are Jeremy Bulloch and Glynis Brooks as the voice of Chocky. The series is again written by Anthony Read and produced/co-directed by Vic Hughes.
Chocky’s Children does some surprising things. One of these is that while it is still a story about Chocky, the character of Chocky has been sidelined. Indeed, we don’t get any appearance of Chocky until Episode 3. And even then Chocky seems quite different to the character she was in the first series – the first time around Chocky was an alien outsider curious about the human experience. By this point, Chocky has merely become an invisible presence unobtrusively guiding others. Indeed, the first appearance we get of Chocky is one where she is giving Matthew strident warnings not to get involved any further, which seems almost the opposite of the character who was an innocent driven by her curiosity that she was in the first series.
The whole Matthew has a strange Invisible Companion plot and Chocky as an alien Outsider trying to understand the world we had in the first series has been dropped. In its place, we get Albertine. Essentially this time the plot is “Matthew makes a girlfriend” – although this being a children’s show with the two leads sitting on the cusp of adolescence, the relationship is purely platonic and there is never suggestion of anything more than that.
In Anabel Worrell’s performance, Albertine is a refreshingly strong and intelligent character. (Like Andrew Ellams, Anabel Worrell has never acted again outside of the various Chocky tv series). She is refreshingly written to challenge stereotypes of children’s tv of the day as a highly intelligent girl with an interest in the sciences. The development of the friendship between her and Matthew, along with the understated development of the telepathy they share, gives the series its strength.
The one amusing thing in retrospect is how Albertine’s father (Prentis Hancock) is made a rule-breaking maverick, who appears to have gotten in trouble with the law for refusing to take her to school. It is something that the subsequent growth of the home-schooling movement since the series aired has made seem passé rather than the nonconformist attitude it was seen as being by the writers back in the 1980s.
Chocky’s Children is slightly the lesser in comparison to Chocky. The main issue is not enough of Chocky, although the compensation is Albertine. The development of the friendship between Matthew and Albertine works well but the last couple of episodes are reduced to stock tropes like the evil scientists trying to take Albertine away for experiments and the efforts of Matthew and others to rescue her.
Full mini-series available online beginning with Episode 1 here