‘THE MOON STALLION’
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Blind Faith and Innocence
‘The Moon Stallion’ is a truly beautiful story with a lovely performance by Sarah Sutton!
Sarah Sutton is well-known for playing Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. According to Sarah, she made this children’s TV serial when she was 17. The German DVD for this story was a great Christmas present for me back in 2011 from my parents. I enjoyed all of the three episodes on the DVD during the Christmas period when I saw it.
On ‘The Moon Stallion’ DVD sold in Germany; this was presented as a a three 50-minute episode story. I later discovered that the story was originally shown as a six-part serial on BBC television. ‘The Moon Stallion’ was available to purchase for a short time as a download on BBC Store, which I enjoyed on my tablet.
‘The Moon Stallion’ is about a blind girl named Diana Purwell, who travels with her father Professor Purwell and her brother Paul to the countryside of Berkshire. They stay at a country house called Coleshill Hall, owned by Sir George Mortenhurze. Diana’s father conducts some archaeological work at an ancient site nearby.
The site belongs to an ancient Celtic horse cut into a chalky hillside – the Uffington White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire if you want to find it. Diana soon gets caught up in some mystical occurrences concerning a beautiful white stallion that runs wild in the country and is connected to an old legend.
Diana’s curiosity gets the better of her, much to the discomfort of the horse warlock named Todman, who works for Mortenhurze. Todman desperately wants the Moon Stallion for himself and to become its master. Diana knows more than she should and soon gets into trouble because of this.
I’ve had great pleasure watching Sarah Sutton as Diana in this lovely story. Sarah gets to play the part of a blind girl and she’s so remarkable and amazing in her performance. She did her research on how to play a blind girl pretty well. Sarah actually met a blind person ‘who had no eyes at all’ according to her.
Sarah articulates the movements and behaviour of a blind person really well. She has to stare forwards with no distractions affecting her, considering she’s blind. It must’ve been very hard for Sarah to not blink very much and not to react to something when playing a blind person during ‘The Moon Stallion’.
In interviews, Sarah said that she got eye-ache from playing a blind girl. But it truly is spectacular acting on Sarah’s part, as she’s so beautiful and you want to hold out to her as Diana when she’s blind, sweet and innocent. I liked Diana’s scenes when she seems to know so much during the story.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Moon Stallion’ signed by Sarah at the ‘Stars of Time’ event in Weston-super-Mare, July 2012. Sarah was delighted to sign my DVD cover of ‘The Moon Stallion’ for me. She even showed the DVD cover to Colin Baker and Frazer Hines who were also at the convention with her.
It must be rare for Sarah to talk about her other works before she did ‘Doctor Who’. She gets pleased when someone like me, who is a big fan of hers, chats to her about ‘The Moon Stallion’. I’m so lucky to have met Sarah at conventions and to chat to her about things other than ‘Doctor Who’, which is a treat for me.
Of course you can’t get ‘The Moon Stallion’ DVD in the UK. ‘The Moon Stallion’ is available on DVD only in Germany which annoys me, since it’s a BBC production. Of course I shouldn’t really complain, as I’m pleased my Mum and Dad purchased this for me from Amazon and it’s great to see Sarah in this.
With the DVD though, it is in German as well as English. You have to remember to switch off the German language and to turn it on for English. Once you arrive at the main menu, you see the options in German. These are the individual episode options and the language option at the bottom of the screen.
The language option is entitled ‘Sprachen’. Choose ‘Englisch’ instead of ‘Deutsch’ in that option. Then you should have no trouble in being able to watch the story in English. This should be pretty straight-forward should you decided to purchase the DVD. If you have any problems with this, let me know. 🙂
‘The Moon Stallion’ is by Brian Hayles, who is a well-known children’s author. In ‘Doctor Who’ terms, he was the creator of the Ice Warriors as well as the writer of other stories in the TV series. Brian wrote this lovely children’s tale that’s a period piece set in the year 1906 apparently and is set in the English countryside.
As soon as I saw this serial first time, I couldn’t take my eyes of it. I was enjoying the story so much and found all the historical background references to the old legends of Wayland and the Moon Stallion fascinating. It’s obviously a well-researched historical piece and deserves merit since it’s well-cast here.
When I saw Sarah at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013, I asked her a question during a panel towards the end of the Saturday. The question was ‘Is there an actor she hadn’t worked with for a long time that she would want to work with again?’ I hoped she’d say David Haig.
Sarah said “David Haig” and I went “YES! YES!” I couldn’t believe it! Sarah couldn’t it either! I hoped she’d say David Haig and she was really chuffed at that. It made my day when Sarah said she would like to work with David Haig again. She was glad she made my day and very happy that I thought of him.
David Haig stars as Todman, the horse warlock who wants the Moon Stallion that runs wild in the fields of Berkshire. Todman is a character who knows a lot about horses and is a horse whisperer. He believes and worships the signs of the moon, since there’s a lot of astrology featured in the TV serial.
I enjoyed David’s remarkable and powerful performance as Todman. Todman is obsessed with capturing the Moon Stallion. He even sends Sir George to his death when he goes to Wayland’s Smithy. He even kidnaps Diana to summon the Moon Stallion to him on the hills, which was pretty terrifying.
I wanted to reach out to Diana and rescue her when she was being kidnapped by Todman. She’s soon alone out on the hills, walking blindly in the cold blustery wind. Todman is a true villain in the story and David Haig plays him so superbly. ‘The Moon Stallion’ happened to be David Haig’s first TV job according to Sarah Sutton.
David Haig would go on to star in many things in later life. When I saw this, I wondered whether David would make a really good ‘Doctor Who’ villain. Oh wait! He did play a ‘Doctor Who’ villain. Shortly after ‘The Moon Stallion’, David played Pangol in ‘The Leisure Hive’ with Tom Baker’s Doctor.
Incidentally, David Haig and Sarah Sutton both made their ‘Doctor Who’ debuts in the same season when Tom Baker did his last season (Season 18). David starred in ‘Doctor Who’ first before Sarah did, as ‘The Leisure Hive’ was shown first before Sarah starred in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ afterwards.
The cast also includes James Greene as Professor Purwell, Diana’s father; David Pullan as Paul, Diana’s brother; John Abineri as Sir George Mortenhurze; Carole Goodall as Estelle, Mortenhurze’s daughter and Joy Harington as Mrs. Brookes, Mortenhurze’s housekeeper. There’s also Michael Kilgarriff (who played the Cyber Controller in the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’) as Wayland, the Green King.
I enjoyed some of the story’s cliffhangers, especially when Diana was in trouble and I wondered what was going to happen to her next. The music and the sound effects are beautiful, with the music composed by Howard Blake, who if I’m not mistaken also composed the music for ‘The Snowman’ in 1982.
Of course, the horse that played the Moon Stallion named Tabu is beautiful and enchanting to see. The horse is truly the star of the show. Sarah has expressed her love for animals and she gets to embrace that love when working with the Moon Stallion. It was great to see Diana ride the Moon Stallion at night.
I’ve now seen ‘The Moon Stallion’ for the umpteenth time and it’s still a truly beautiful piece of period of drama set in the English countryside. Sarah Sutton is truly sensational and beautiful as the blind Diana Purwell. Her performance is truly one of the best and it’s what won her to be in ‘Doctor Who’.
‘The Moon Stallion’ is truly a children’s classic that is certainly worth watching for all generations. Sarah Sutton is lovely as the heroine and David Haig is tremendous as the villain. It was also great to see Sarah as Diana riding the white Moon Stallion on the great hills of the English countryside here!
‘The Moon Stallion’ rating – 10/10
‘THE MOON STALLION’ (NOVELIZATION/AUDIOBOOK)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
A Blind Girl and a White Horse in Novelization/Audiobook Form
I’ve read and listened to the wonderful novelization/audiobook based on the children’s TV classic!
I greatly enjoyed ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization/audiobook based on the original TV serial that was shown on BBC TV in 1978, starring Sarah Sutton as the blind girl Diana Purwell and David Haig as the villainous Todman. Reading/hearing the book/audio felt like watching the TV serial on DVD again! 😀
I of course first saw ‘The Moon Stallion’ TV serial when my parents purchased the German DVD of it for me back in December 2011 for Christmas. I enjoyed the three episodes of the story in three days. I’ve seen the TV tale for the umpteenth time, especially via the original six-part version on BBC Store.
I’m very familiar with the story, so the chance of reading/hearing the actual story of ‘The Moon Stallion’ in book/audio form was irresistible for me. Having read the book and heard the audio opens up and unravels new layers about the story that I never considered before with Brian Hayles’ writing.
It’s also allowed me to visualise the wonderful children’s drama in more detail with Sarah Sutton’s Diana in it. It’s a shame that ‘The Moon Stallion’ as a TV serial isn’t available commercially on DVD and as a download by the BBC in the UK in order for people to appreciate this classic TV serial more.
The TV serial was novelized into book form by Brian Hayles, the original author. The book was first published by Mirror Books in 1978, the same year the serial was broadcast on BBC TV. I didn’t know Brian Hayles had novelized his children’s fantasy drama into a book when it was being shown on TV.
Just to help you be familiar with the story, ‘The Moon Stallion’ is about a blind girl named Diana in 1906. She and her family, including her father Professor Purwell and her brother Paul, visit the country house of Coleshill Hall, currently owned by Sir George Mortenhurze and his daughter Estelle.
Whilst staying at Coleshill Hall, Diana becomes involved with the mystical occurrences happening in the English countryside. They involve a beautiful white horse called the Moon Stallion. But Diana’s involvement and curiosity gets the better of her since the warlock Todman wants the horse himself.
The original book published by Mirror Books had an image of Sarah Sutton as Diana on the front cover as well as an image of the Uffington White Horse Hill. I like the book’s original front cover, especially as Sarah as Diana is being the main focus. Why did they not keep the cover for the reprint?
‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization follows the same trend of Target novelizations for the ‘Doctor Who’ stories published at the same time. Surprised ‘The Moon Stallion’ wasn’t published by Target as well as the ‘Doctor Who’ stories. Then again, Peter Grimwade’s ‘Robot’ wasn’t published by Target either.
Eventually, ‘The Moon Stallion’ got republished and reprinted by Fantom Publishing in 2014. Fantom Publishing is a branch of Fantom Films that produces books and audios. Fantom Films also organises a number of ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. I have attended some of these conventions by Fantom Films.
I became aware of ‘The Moon Stallion’ book’s existence when it was advertised on the Fantom Films website back in 2014. I was keenly interested to seek and purchase the novelization of a TV serial that features my favourite actress who plays my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion in TV and audio.
Over the years, I’ve become a huge fan of Sarah Sutton’s work as an actress as well as her being Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. I purchased ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization at the ‘Pandorica 2014’ convention in Bristol, September 2014. I did hope to have my copy of the book signed by Sarah then.
Sadly, Sarah wasn’t able to attend the ‘Pandorica 2014’ convention due to family matters. That was a shame. But two months later, I saw Sarah again at the ‘Collectormania 22’ comic con in Milton Keynes, November 2014. It was there where I had my ‘Moon Stallion’ novelization signed by Sarah. 🙂
It was worth waiting for! I was so pleased Sarah signed ‘The Moon Stallion’ book for me back in 2014. As I said, I’m a huge Sarah Sutton fan. I enjoyed Sarah’s performance as the blind girl Diana. She delivered a lovely performance, articulating the movements and behaviour of the character well.
Sarah knew about the book’s existence even before I asked her to sign it for me. Both of us liked the front cover of the reprint edition of ‘The Moon Stallion’ book by Fantom Publishing. It has a picture of the horse silhouetted against the moon with a silhouetted hilly landscape below, which was great.
But there were also thorns at the top of the front cover of the reprint edition for ‘The Moon Stallion’ book. Sarah and I weren’t sure what the thorns were for. I didn’t have an answer for Sarah on what the thorns were about, as I don’t recall them in the TV serial. But we liked the front cover despite that.
Sarah and I chatted about the original novelization of ‘The Moon Stallion’ by Brian Hayles published in the 1970s. We talked about how it had gone out of print before it was reprinted by Fantom Publishing. Sarah has fond memories of ‘The Moon Stallion’ and working with David Haig as Todman.
I hoped that one day there would be an audiobook of ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization produced by Fantom Publishing. Fantom Publishing has produced plenty of audiobook versions of their book publications over the years and these can be found on their website, both as CDs and as downloads.
When I saw Sarah at the ‘Bournemouth Film and Comic Con’ in August 2015, she told me she had recorded ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook for Fantom Audio. I was over the moon by this news. I was looking forward to when it would get released and the announcement was made back in April 2016.
But for some reason, the audiobook got delayed in terms of its release. I don’t know what that reason was, but ‘The Moon Stallion’ didn’t get released in May/June 2016 as I hoped it would. Sarah didn’t know what the reason for the audiobook’s delay was either when I met her at conventions.
Thankfully through seeing Sarah at conventions and comic cons over the years, I learnt to be patient. The patience was well-rewarded as ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook got released in March 2019. I’m grateful to Sarah for reassuring me of the audiobook’s release as I did wonder whether it’d be released or not.
I soon had my CD copy of ‘The Moon Stallion’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow’ in August 2019. Sarah signed the inside of my audiobook CD cover with ‘AT LAST!’ on it! I purchased the CD and download versions of ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook from Fantom Publishing.
I enjoyed listening to ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook on its own as well as hearing it whilst I had the book in my hand with Sarah Sutton reading the story in the background. Sarah has a lovely voice for reading. She’s done some ‘Doctor Who’ Short Trip audiobooks over the years. These I have enjoyed.
They include ‘The Toy’, ‘The King of the Dead’, ‘The Mistpuddle Murders’ and ‘A Heart on Both Sides’. She also performed and narrated Nyssa’s one-off ‘Companion Chronicle’ called ‘The Darkening Eye’. She also read the non-‘Doctor Who’ related audiobook ‘The Jarillion Mercy’ in 2006.
It’s clear to me that Sarah is a superb narrator and I’ve enjoyed the audiobooks she’s done whether they are long or short. I was very pleased with what I heard in ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook since Sarah is fantastic! Having to wait for ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook to get released makes it special!
Sarah read all of 300 minutes approx for this audiobook. The audiobook is divided into 5 discs on CD. I love how Sarah read the story and again it felt like watching ‘The Moon Stallion’ on DVD whilst hearing the audiobook. Sarah does wonders for the characters’ voices featured in the story itself. 😀
She does superb voices for Todman, Sir George Mortenhurze and Estelle as well as her own character Diana. I recall from seeing Sarah at conventions that she shared how she found it hard work to read the audiobook. It clearly shows! She must’ve spent at least two days or so to record it!
I’m glad I told Sarah at the Glasgow comic con in August 2019 how much I’ve enjoyed her in the audiobook. She was very pleased to hear that as she was afraid she was terrible reading the story on audio. But I reassured her she wasn’t. I enjoyed sharing with her what she did superbly in reading it.
I was able to enjoy the whole audiobook when my parents and I had our caravan holiday in Amroth back in April 2019. I even enjoyed listening to the audiobook on my journey going there and back to Glasgow for the comic con to meet Sarah. Can you tell how much I enjoyed this lovely audiobook? 😀
Incidentally, ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook doesn’t have any music or sound effects to accompany the story like many BBC and Big Finish audiobooks do. I don’t mind this much with Sarah narrating the audiobook, but I wonder why it was decided not to include music or sound effects for this release.
Like I said, ‘The Moon Stallion’ book is a direct novelization of the TV scripts translated by Brian Hayles. Brian doesn’t change much in terms of the plot from TV into book form. However, certain scenes aren’t featured from the TV version into the book version which I found rather unusual here.
I found ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization easy to read as a book back in 2014 and later as an audiobook read by Sarah Sutton in 2019. If you know the TV serial inside out like I do, you should have no problem visualising what’s going on. Even with Sarah narrating the tale, you’ll have no issue.
The story is divided into 16 chapters. The chapters themselves are quite lengthy even without the audiobook to help you, but they’re very easy and captivating to read. Brian Hayles writes very clearly in his novelization for ‘The Moon Stallion’ and I did enjoy how he translated the TV serial into prose.
Of course, the author Brian Hayles is well-known in ‘Doctor Who’ circles for creating the Ice Warriors, one of the show’s popular monsters. He also wrote ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ and the two Peladon TV stories. He has also authored two children’s horror plays and the book called ‘Goldhawk’.
Reading/hearing ‘The Moon Stallion’ book/audio got me to learn more about Brain Hayles as a writer. He is well-versed in his stories and he does his research tremendously well in connecting to the Arthurian legends and them myths of the Moon Goddess – Epona (Diana) – to the Moon Stallion.
I’ve read/heard another novelization/audiobook by Brian Hayles called ‘Doctor Who – The Curse of Peladon’. I enjoyed that but there were differences and omissions from the TV story into book form that made it less enjoyable for me. This was different compared to ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization.
As I said, I did spot differences and omissions in ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization. But somehow I was able to accept them since Brian Hayles kept to the spirit of the story when novelizing it. I imagine Brian Hayles omitted certain scenes from the TV serial into prose form to make it stronger for his readers.
There are certain scenes with Diana and Estelle omitted in the book from the TV version. There’s the early scene where Estelle plays a trick on Diana by making her find her way around her bedroom once she and her family arrive at Coleshill Hall. I wonder why that scene wasn’t included in the book.
There’s also the scene where Diana comforts Estelle through the loss of her father after he gets killed in the story. I suppose it’s due to timing and word length with these novelizations, but those scenes are somewhat crucial to the tale, aren’t they? How come Hayles didn’t include these scenes?
Brian Hayles structurally changes things in the book with telling his story to the readers. Like Tolkien’s writing in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and C.S. Lewis’ writing in a few books of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, Hayles has blocks of character journeys in some chapters of the story to make it non-linear.
For example, Diana’s disappearance and ride on the Moon Stallion to Wayland’s Smithy at night is taken from four standpoints in the book. In Chapter 8, it focuses on Mortenhurze riding to Wayland’s Smithy; Purwell’s return to Coleshill Hall; Paul finding his father and the two discovering Diana gone.
In Chapter 9, it focuses on Diana’s journey in walking out at night to ride on the Moon Stallion; leaving Coleshill Hall and meeting the Green King at Wayland’s Smithy. In Chapter 10, it focuses on Mortenhurse’s journey to Wayland Smithy to find Diana and the Moon Stallion before the wild hunt.
In Chapter 11, it focuses on the action at Coleshill Hall with Purwell, Estelle, Paul and Mrs. Brooke wondering about Diana whereabouts before they set out to find her. Todman becomes an obstacle until Diana returns on Rollo, Mortenhurze’s horse, to inform Estelle her father’s dead on Dragon Hill.
These structural changes featured in ‘The Moon Stallion’ make for an interesting read. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing. It’s enjoyable to read and listen to. But it shows Brian Hayles approaches novelizations really differently compared to how Terrance Dicks does his ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations.
Like I said before, Brain Hayles provides unique details on the Celtic legends and the Beltane festival in connection to the Moon Stallion and events during the story. For those who couldn’t catch the unique historical references featured throughout the TV story, it can be found here in this book. 😀
I was so impressed with how much research Brain Hayles took to write ‘The Moon Stallion’ for TV. I was even more impressed to find the amount of detail found in his book for the story. I enjoyed more in the book and the Celtic legends were interesting, even though I don’t fully understand them.
What especially stood out for me with ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization especially with the audiobook is how well-developed the characters are. There’s more given in terms of the motivations made through characters like Diana, Todman, Purwell, Paul, Estelle, Mortenhurze and Mrs. Brookes.
It was interesting to discover what the thought-processes were in characters like Diana who depended on her inner sight as well as what she heard from others and sensed from everything around her. You could emphasise with her character more, especially when she’s getting into trouble.
Todman as a villain was interesting to read/hear in book/audio form. I did wonder why Todman was doing these villainous things he did with putting Mortenhurze in his place for sacrifice and kidnapping Diana. His obsessions with power and knowing dark magic made him more dangerous as the villain.
Mortenhurze’s motivations for revenge were interesting to read and hear in the book/audio as well as Estelle’s development from a young teenager into a woman. This is especially when Estelle becomes grief-stricken after the dead of his father, but she retains her good nature towards the end.
The mystical aspects of the Moon Stallion were interesting to read, especially when it was a dangerous, wild animal whilst having a good connection to Diana. It was reassuring by the end of the story when Purwell, Paul and Estelle happily find Diana as she was led to safety by the Moon Stallion
‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization/audiobook has wonderful read and hear. It’s a unique experience to read and hear this story in book/audio form after watching the TV serial with Sarah Sutton. I’m very happy that Sarah signed ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization for me in its book form in November 2014.
I’m also equally happy that Sarah signed ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook for me in August 2019 at last. ‘The Moon Stallion’ could easily be mistaken for a TV serial based on a children’s book. It’s interesting how that’s the other way around when Brian Hayles novelized the TV serial in book form.
I can now enjoy ‘The Moon Stallion’ in three forms including the TV version; the novelization and the audiobook. I highly recommend ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization/audiobook. It’s well worth it, especially with Sarah Sutton reading the story in audiobook form since she’s a tremendous narrator!
‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook is well worth the purchase. I’m glad I’ve heard Sarah read the story as I’ve wanted to hear her read it for such a long time. I’m glad the patience and waiting was well-worth it. If you’re a Sarah Sutton fan like me, you’re in for a treat with this ‘Moon Stallion’ novelization/audiobook. 😀
‘The Moon Stallion’ (Novelization/Audiobook) rating – 10/10
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