Monday, 19 November 2012


There are many memorable Tales of the Unexpected, some stretching the definition of the word 'Unexpected' to breaking point. But 'Tales of the Bleeding Predicable' doesn't quite have the same ring. Admittedly some of the predicability of the unpredictable does come from over familiarity and the fact that a lot of the tales now seem very much of their time.  

 'Flypaper', the first episode from the third series, is anything but predictable. It opens with the police dragging the marshes looking for a missing school girl. As if the grisly echoes of the Moors murders weren't already enough to give you the chills, what unfolds over the next 25 minutes is perhaps one of the most horrific and down-right terrifying pieces of television you are ever likely to see. It's almost unbelievable how it ever got to the screen in the first place. The very thought of even thinking about commissioning it today would be unthinkable - let alone showing it on ITV on a Saturday night.

Sylvia a young girl is followed on to the bus by a sinister man played by Alfred Burke. She suspects that he is a child murderer and gets off at the next stop so to avoid him.

He pursues her but she finds solace with a lady (that seems to have a red tea cosy on her head) who takes her to her caravan and offers her tea.

Unfortunately for Sylvia, the kindly looking lady is in cahoots with the sinister man who turns up at the mobile home. The camera crash zooms in on the school girl's face as she realises that she's going to be the next victim. She's miles off the beaten track, no one knows where she is and she's now going to die at the hands of an insane couple of lunatics who no doubt will torture and submit her to all sorts of humiliating atrocities before killing her.

And that's it.

That's the whole story.


If it had been half an hour longer and shot through a green filter it could have been part of  Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog. Michael Heneke should remake it.

Dahl himself didn't write this one, Elizabeth Taylor did (no relation to the Welsh husband botherer), as the series had used up most of his short stories by then. In the introduction he describes it as 'neat and nice' and says he had only wished he had written it himself.

The sick bastard.

It's called 'Flypaper'. I think that could be a metaphor of some kind.


  1. And a rather creepy view of Ely Cathedral across the silty fens...

  2. We never had TotU on in our house, so I've just watched it over on YouTube.

    I think it's safe to say that if I had seen 'The Flypaper' as a child, I'd probably never have the left the house again.

  3. "what unfolds over the next 25 minutes is perhaps one of the most horrific and down-right terrifying pieces of television you are ever likely to see"
    Absolutely. The aftershock of what I'd just witnessed has stayed with me ever since.
    Similar to the joy of watching 'Stigma' by the Christmas tree.

  4. They don't make 'em like that anymore. I don't think they're allowed to.

  5. A creepy horrible tale, but the fact that the Sylvia nver received any love from her Grandmother or any any praise from Miss Harrison, it seemed like the whole world was againt the poor child.

  6. There is a chance the girl, Sylvia, could escape her captors. In real life, it's happened frequently. Even after they had captured her in their van, a girl got away from the murder/torture team of Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris. They were a far more formidable pair than the old pair of sickos in this story.

  7. Was the episode filmed in Autumn 1979 or the spring of 1980, it looks like Autumn to me

  8. As a child I lived in the Ely area and for many years afterwards I was frightened to go any where near the phone box as I didn't want the stranger killing me.
    I remember them filming the Flypaper in October and November 1979.