22 Oct 2016 7:00pm - 8:00pm Faculty of English, Judith E Wilson Drama Studio, 9 West Road, CB3 9DP


A journey across the imaginative geographies of North Cornwall. Using sound, visuals and spoken word, Headlands tells the story of a weird visitation and an even weirder TV show. A spoken word performance by James Riley and Yvonne Salmon.

In 1981 the Cornish village of Port Isaac was used by the BBC as the primary location for their shot-on-video serial The Nightmare Man. Based on David Wiltshire’s novel Child of the Vodyanoi (1978) and produced by the creative team behind Dr. Who, The Nightmare Man was a story of UFOs and experimental flight technology. It combined cold-war paranoia and pulp science fiction with European folklore and haunting shots of the English coastline.

In 1645 Anne Jefferies went to work as a maid for the Pitt family in St. Teath, Cornwall: a hamlet some 5 miles from Port Isaac. Soon after her employment began Jefferies was found in a state of disorientation at the gate of the Pitt house. As Moses Pitt would later describe in a letter to the Bishop of Gloucester, Jefferies recovered from her “fit of convulsion” reporting that she had met and travelled with “airy people, called fairies”. Pitt’s letter is currently recognised as one of England’s earliest accounts of a ‘fourth kind’ or alien abduction experience.

Using these two events as parallel starting points, Headlands will present a range of evidence pertaining to a speculative investigation: images, video footage, field recordings and magical objects. Part public talk, part spoken word performance; Headlands will attempt to map out the strange territory where landscape, folklore and fiction intersect.

Headlands is intended as an output of the on-going research and public engagement project at CRASSH, The Alchemical Landscape.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk