One Hour to Zero – Children’s Film Foundation

THE 1976 CHILDREN’S Film Foundation drama One Hour to Zero is a “countdown thriller”, which shows the life of an ordinary Welsh village thrown into crisis as a nearby experimental nuclear power station threatens to explode.

Made by Charles Barker Films, One Hour to Zero was written by John Tully, produced by Jean Wadlow and directed by Jeremy Summers. It was shot on film and mainly on location, with Trawsfyndd in Gwynedd providing the village locations and Trawsfynydd nuclear power station serving at the site of the apparently doomed plant. Music for the production was provided by Anthony Isaac (who wrote the Survivors theme), and the cast includes Morris Perry (Fenton, Mad Dog) and Hazel McBride (Alice, Bridgehead)

The drama has the familiar tone and style of Children’s Film Foundation stories, but – given its target audience – was amongst the more disturbing of the titles in the CFF catalogue.

It’s definitely worth a hour of your time, if you enjoy watching people: wandering through eerily empty streets; knocking on neighbours’ doors to find no-one home; driving around in Land Rovers; clambering their way through old quarries; working out of an emergency centre of operations; fruitlessly waving at helicopters as they fly over; looting cash-and-carry stores; struggling to retrieve a case full of stolen bank notes; worrying about whether the atomic power stations are dangerous (and if they can be shut down properly); and battling to regain control of an abandoned power plant.

There’s also something oddly familiar about seeing a roguish Welsh itinerant hiding out in the hills (someone who encourages another stray to “stay with me, I’ll see you’re alright”); a parent frantically searching for a missing son; and Morris Perry as a pessimistic academic convinced that the end is nigh as the clock ticks down towards disaster…

Set in the fictional Welsh village of Llynfawr, Steve (Toby Bridge) runs away from home after an argument with his father. His sister Maureen (Jayne Collins) enlists the help of his friend Paul (Andrew Ashby) to find him, although Paul is initially unwilling to help. He eventually finds Steve in an abandoned slate quarry. On their return they find the village deserted and are unaware that the village has been evacuated due to the danger of an explosion at a nearby power station. They are unable to contact the outside world as the village’s only public telephone was earlier vandalised by Paul in an attempt to get money from it. Steve’s father returns to the power station in an attempt to correct the problem and prevent disaster. He eventually succeeds with seconds to spare. Meanwhile, the opportunity to rob the cash and carry has not passed Mike Ellis (Dudley Sutton) by…

One Hour to Zero  - main cast

One Hour to Zero  - main cast

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