Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…
Imagine a TV show about a group of strangers from several different countries who are traveling together and find themselves marooned on one of a pair of mysterious islands that are apparently lost in time.
There is a community of people already living on the island, ruled over by a leader whose identity is a mystery but who they are compelled to obey.
A co-production of Australia’s Ten Network and US studio Paramount, The Lost Islands is a kids’ drama that first aired in 1976. It ran for a single season of 26 episodes.
The show told the contemporary story of five children, part of a crew of youngsters on an expedition to sail around the world, who get left behind when everyone else abandons ship during a storm.
The ship gets swept over a reef and ends up on the shores of two strange islands, populated by people apparently living in the 18th century and ruled over by a 200-year-old tyrant called Q (Star Trek fans take note!). The series told of their adventures as they tried to avoid being captured by Q, who fears their modern knowledge and attitudes will contaminate his people and threaten his rule, and find a way off the island.
The Lost Islands was a regular fixture of school-holiday kids’ TV in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when the Choob was a lad. However, I never, ever got to see how the story ended because the Scottish school holidays always started (and ended) a few weeks earlier than the English holidays. The kids’ TV schedules were always timed to accommodate the English holidays and so Scots invariably missed the last few episodes of all the cool TV serials that aired during the summer break (this was in the days before VCRs). Not that I’m still bitter about it or anything…
Anyway, one of the most memorable things about The Lost Islands was its amazing theme song, easily one of the top 10 theme tunes of all time. Like The Prisoner, the opening credits explain the whole premise for the show – but unlike The Prisoner, which relied purely on the visuals to tell the story, The Lost Islands goes one better with a cool, lengthy theme song with lyrics that spell out every little detail of the plot.
It’s so detailed and clear that the first episode of the show doesn’t even bother with any set up – it simply picks up where the theme song leaves off, with the kids waking up on the island the morning after the storm (in fact, in a nice touch, the opening titles for the first two episodes of the show left out the verse from the theme song about the people living on the island, so as not to spoil the surprise for viewers when our heroes discover them).
Written and performed by one Michael Caulfield, it’s an over-blown, melodramatic masterpiece. Great tune, excellent story-driven lyrics and a wonderfully expressive and emotive performance.
Once heard, never forgotten, here is that amazing opening theme song – enjoy!
And here are the closing titles, which add another verse to the theme song: