I still remember it to this day, which is what made me slightly hesitant about getting the DVD, but I also distinctly remember it being in black and white (it's not - it's full colour) despite the fact that I very much doubt I watched the original run in 1969.
However, an overriding memory from The Owl Service is that the main girl, Alison (Gillian Hills) gave me inappropriate (for my age) tingles.
Discovering now that the 25-year-old had already been in teen exploitation flick Beat Girl and was the star of Britain's first full front nude scene in Blow Up suggests I might have been an early developer on the hottie spotting front!
Adapted by Alan Garner from his own best-selling novel, The Owl Service is a complex tale of sexual awakenings, jealousy, family secrets, class divisions (with a side order of Welsh/English racism thrown in for good measure), magic and myth centred around a British family - divorcee Clive (Edwin Richfield), and his son Roger (a sulky toff and Eric Idle-clone, Francis Wallis), and new wife Margaret (an unseen figure, a force of malice), with her daughter Alison - on holiday in the Welsh valleys.
Alison was left a grand holiday home by her late father and with it comes a staff of scowling housekeeper Nancy (Dorothy Edwards), her needy, whiny teenage son Gwyn (Michael Holden) and the slightly-batty groundskeeper Huw Half-Bacon (Raymond Llewellyn).
Down from the house, by the river, is an ancient standing stone with a hole through it, said to be where an ancient mythical story played out about a a woman made of flowers for the local lord, who was attracted to another fellow - who slew the lord. However, the lord turned into an eagle, flew away and came back and killed the man who had stolen his bride. The flower-woman was cursed to become an owl by the magician who had created her.
In the attic of the house, Alison discovers - and becomes obsessed with - a collection of floral-patterned plates. Compelled to trace the pattern of the flowers, she realises they can be cut out and assembled into the shape of owls.
The pace with which the story unfolds might have modern audiences reaching for the fast forward button, as it slowly layers atmospheric foreshadowing upon atmospheric foreshadowing, seemingly building towards a powerful conclusion.
There are meaningful shots of mirrors, scratching sounds in the attic, the piecing together of clues that indicate that this has all happened before, strange images in photographs, hidden pictures revealing themselves, Huw's prophetic babblings, odd flashes of creepiness that are never mentioned again, the extremely peculiar nature of the nearby village and then...
After sitting through the seven, languid, 25-minute episodes everything seems to surge forward with an unexpected preternatural speed in the final episode, promising a spectacular climax which, in fact, rather annoyingly, fizzles out into an unsatisfactory damp squib.
The resolution feels like a cheat, as though there really should have been a ninth episode - if not to explain what had been going on (we'd had enough clues to pick that up) - at least to offer some reasoning and satisfying conclusion, rather than leaving the viewer shouting: "Yes, and...?" at the screen.
I can see now why it might have freaked me out as a child; The Owl Service is ultimately a series of superfluous horror movie tropes squeezed, without rhyme nor reason, into a straight-forward ghost story. All the trappings serve to distract like red herrings, but they also obfuscate and confuse unnecessarily.
As with many childhood nightmares, the most frightening aspects of The Owl Service are not what are seen on the television, but what is suggested. It's just a shame that what they suggested didn't really have much to do with the plot.
Gillian Hills as Allison in The Owl Service.