Monday, August 23, 2010

The House on Dragon's Rock

External representations of Wales in popular culture always fascinate me. In 1968 an episode of The Saint was set in Wales and was titled The House on Dragon’s Rock. Unusually for The Saint it is a sci-fi story and was located in the entirely fictional town of Llanfairtraws Sychnant.

Simon Templar turns up in the village to find a shepherd (I swear!) rendered speechless and traumatised by some gruesome sight he has just witnessed. Other strange events have been occurring there, too, such as a lorry being mysteriously overturned and trees uprooted. What’s going on? Well, basically, there’s a giant ant on the loose.

Why would a giant ant be on the loose in Wales and not England? I think it has something to do with that quaint notion of our English neighbours that crossing the border is somehow like going back in time. In this case that means Wales has the atavistic potential to nurture a giant insect.

Strangely enough there is a scientific laboratory in the village, situated in the big house on Dragon’s Rock. The establishment is run by Dr Sardon, who turns out to be a bit of a mad scientist. He has created a giant queen ant who has just laid some eggs. Apparently rugby balls painted white were used to represent the eggs. Templar shoots the deranged ant with a rifle and thereby saves the unsophisticated Welsh locals from a fate worse than death. Hey, thanks.

The episode was first aired in November, 1968, and was based on the Leslie Charteris story, The Man Who Liked Ants. See also The Sixth Finger for another odd manifestation of Wales in popular culture.