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Short summary

In 19th-century India, little Mary Lennox is suddenly orphaned by cholera. Her only living relative is her crook-backed uncle, Archibald Craven, so Mary is sent to live at his estate on the Yorkshire moors. Rude and unpleasant, Mary gradually begins to change as she explores the manor and grows to know some of the servants, particularly her maid Martha, and Ben Weatherstaff the gardener. With the help of a robin, Mary discovers a secret garden. She also discovers a cousin she never knew she had, and begins to form plans that transform her cousin, the garden, and ultimately herself.

Following the common BBC practice at the time, shots on sound stages (including those of the "secret garden" itself) were made on videotape while exterior shots were made on film and converted to videotape. In the final video, those shots converted from film fail to be as crisp and clear as the shots made directly to videotape.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Fearlesssinger
    Actually, it's sort of a tie between this and the '93 Kate Maberly one. The '93 one was quite lavish, and a visual feast, but in a way I'm more drawn to the '75 version. The acting is great, especially Sarah Hollis Andrews, who plays the spoiled Mary Lennox, and it followed the story exactly. I also liked Andrew Harrison, who played Dickon (he was really great in "The Littlest Horse Thieves"). He was, IMHO, the best Dickon of all the versions, as his Yorkshire accent was the thickest, and he looked exactly the way Dickon is described in the novel. My only complaint: parts of this seemed to obviously be filmed on a set, such as the garden, which was most disappointing. I could be wrong about the set thing, but it seems to me to be indoors. Still, the movie's just like reading the novel and quite a bit of the dialogue is taken directly from the book (I don't mind that at all). I've seen every version of "The Secret Garden" made, and this and the '93 one are, to me, the best by far.
  • comment
    • Author: Mash
    I say that because first of all the 1993 version was in theaters and this one was a television drama in 1975 from BBC. So in that case the 1993 one was made for Hollywood concluding that this one was not fancy like the 93 one, maybe this one was a little plain but still it wasn't all bad. It had this calm type of simplicity that made it sweet but in a different way.

    I think what really disappointed me and why it doesn't get 10 stars is because 1) I think the garden could have been much nicer. There are beautiful scenes of Mary walking around on lovely grounds in England. A few instances with that sweet music that gets stuck in your head because it is so calming, so simple, cheerful and beautiful. Those scenes are actually my favorite. So why was the garden filmed on an indoor set if she is seen walking outside where it really sets the mood for the feeling of the magic of the secret garden? Thats what I think I have to conclude about this one is that because the garden looked to be filmed inside there was not quite as much magic in it. I think the magic was like I said when Mary was walking around outside where it was real and not a set. 2) I liked all the acting except for Colin. The boy who played Colin cannot act at all and he stumbles on his words at the end and rushes through, it kinda kills the ending. I noticed Martha stumble once and as well as Ben Wetherstaff and maybe the other actors do too but I tried to ignore the few times they stumble. Look at it this way, when we speak, naturally sometimes we stumble, but obviously the actors were not told to re-due the scene. Also, I believe that from what I have heard about these made for TV BBC dramas from the 1970s they filmed the outdoor scenes and taped the indoor scenes.

    Don't get me wrong I did LIKE this version, as I said it was very simple and yes very obvious to be a set especially the garden, but I don't know I found the scenes inside the house to feel natural and different then the 93 movie. Don't let those two things I mentioned kill this one for you I am not writing this review to warn you or anything...I just had to speak my mind to explain that this one cannot and should not be compared to the 93 one because I find that to just not be fare. This one was made 30 years ago, not supposed to be a FILM for the theater and just really the purpose of telling the story and not paying attention to the fanciest detail that the 93 one has. I like the 93 one too because I found that some of the changes make it darker and seem more realistic, mysterious and magical. For instance in the book and the 75 version Mary is told that her uncle does not want a child walking around in black the house is dark enough as it is. Well I think Mary wearing black in the 93 version in the beginning is more realistic and tragic and more Victorian, as well as those other types of examples I am sure you can think of if you have read the book and seen the 93 version. Even though the author was from the time the book took place she did not want the novel to be mysterious and quite so romantic as the 93 one. That is the beauty of the 93 one but we cant expect all versions to tell the story that way. We expect such fancy movies nowadays.

    Just think about this difference and you will enjoy this version a little more than you realized. ENJOY THIS ONE FOR ITS SIMPLICITY.

    I tend to repeat myself, but I hope my review is clear for you and will help you appreciate this version a little more for how it is.
  • comment
    • Author: Yananoc
    Very impressive production! A simple story brought to life with superb acting, complex and consistent characters, and a believable and entertaining storyline. There's no "good" or "bad" characters. All the people have their good and bad sides and these are allowed to interact with other personalities.

    Don't expect a multi-million dollar production, but this charming story is presented with much professionalism by the entire cast. An entirely enjoyable presentation for the whole family.
  • comment
    • Author: Akinohn
    Having recently had the opportunity to read the book "The Secret Garden" I was pleasantly surprised at how close this version is to the book. I now have four versions of this story, the 1947, 1975, 1987 and 1993 most of the other versions stray somewhat from the original story, even the majority of the script in this production is taken from the book. When I read the book I can visualise the actors in this production, the only change I could find was that Sarah Ann Medlock has been renamed Agnes. Sarah Hollis Andrews does a fine job as Mary and unlike other versions they used a genuine Yorkshire boy Andrew Harrison to play Dickon, David Patterson made a delightfully obnoxious (to start with) Colin. Of course this was a TV production so not in the same class as a Hollywood movie. Never the less full marks to the BBC on a great job.
  • comment
    • Author: Modred
    Frances Hodgson Burnett was best known for penning three children/family literary classics that have been beloved for decades and adapted numerous times. They are 'Little Lord Fauntleroy', 'A Little Princess' and 'The Secret Garden'.

    Of the numerous versions of 'The Secret Garden', it is this adaptation from the BBC that is the most faithful, being often word for word and very close in detail with few changes (any that were made were very minor), which those who prefer films/television adapted from source material to be as faithful as possible will appreciate. With that being said, it is not my personal favourite version, judging all the adaptations from a standalone perspective my favourite is the 1993 film, which had more polish, a little more soul and very memorable music and performances.

    'The Secret Garden' (1975) is not without its faults. There is an artificial, un-evocative and drably low-budget look to the sets, which do look like rather studio bound and not much is done to make it less obvious. This is especially true for the garden, which should have been far more wondrous later on.

    David Patterson didn't do anything for me either as Colin, inexperience shows and his dialogue delivery is often rushed and stilted, plus character growth was not particularly convincing with him being too much of a brat throughout.

    However, Sarah Holis Andrews makes for a spirited, suitably sullen and later quite charming Mary, with her unlike Colin here there is a real sense of character growth and evolution. Andrew Harrison is perhaps definitive as Dickon, with the most Yorkshire-sounding accent.

    Hope Johnstone's Mrs Medlock is appropriately beastly while with a little humanity later, while the Lord Craven of John Woodnutt is as mysterious and melancholic as necessary. Tom Harrison and Jacqueline Hoyle fare well as Ben and Martha.

    Lacking sets aside, 'The Secret Garden' (1975) is photographed pleasingly, and is lovingly costumed. Transfer is pretty good. The music is both sombre and uplifting, like the story itself, while the dialogue is like the book come to life. The story spaces itself out over the lengthy length with ease and rarely drags, displaying every ounce of the book's charm, mystery and sense of hope.

    Overall, lovely adaptation and well worth watching. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • comment
    • Author: Gravelblade
    Easily the most charming adaptation of The Secret Garden, it is loaded with charm, very close to the original story, and is incredibly well performed, child actor Sarah Hollis Andrews does a particularly fine job as Mary Lennox, she does a great job in developing the character, you see Mary change with every episode. I also love Hope Johnstone's Mrs Metlock, the best version of her in my opinion.

    It's an old production, and naturally it does jar a little in parts, the move from camera to film for example, and the obviously studio set garden also looks a bit fake, but overall the production values are rather good.

    One of those dramas you could watch teatime on a Sunday, a pot of tea, jam tarts and no care in the world.

    A charming production, 8/10
  • Complete series cast summary:
    Sarah Hollis Andrews Sarah Hollis Andrews - Mary Lennox 7 episodes, 1975
    Hope Johnstone Hope Johnstone - Mrs. Medlock 7 episodes, 1975
    William Marsh William Marsh - John 7 episodes, 1975
    Jennie Goossens Jennie Goossens - Nurse 6 episodes, 1975
    Jacqueline Hoyle Jacqueline Hoyle - Martha 6 episodes, 1975
    John Woodnutt John Woodnutt - Mr. Archibald Craven 6 episodes, 1975
    Tom Harrison Tom Harrison - Ben Weatherstaff 4 episodes, 1975
    David Patterson David Patterson - Colin Craven 4 episodes, 1975
    Lorraine Peters Lorraine Peters - Mrs. Sowerby 4 episodes, 1975
    Andrew Harrison Andrew Harrison - Dickon 4 episodes, 1975
    Richard Warner Richard Warner - Dr. Craven 4 episodes, 1975
    Basil Clarke Basil Clarke - Pitcher 3 episodes, 1975
    Alison Lowndes Alison Lowndes - 'Lizabeth Ellen 3 episodes, 1975
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