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Forgotten Sci-Fi TV Gems

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Showing 1-25 of 75 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Jan 2013, 13:16:28 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jan 2013, 13:18:02 GMT
Brother Grim says:
I've been reading with interest people's lists of classic sci-fi TV, so I'm weighing in with my list of forgotten gems. They're all British children's shows from the seventies that hardly anyone mentions anymore. What forgotten gems can you recommend?

The Boy from Space '71 - This was from the school's Look and Read series. Totally frightening to a six year old, especially as the alien hunting the boy resembled a Doctor Who auton (that had scared the bejesus out me the year previously.)

The Changes - Seventies apocalyptic TV at it's best, it's about a sudden noise emanating from all machinery and technology that causes the population destroy them. Convincing, hard-hitting and my favourite seventies show (apart from the lame ending.)

The Georgian House - ITV time travel yarn from 1976 that had a memorably creepy chanting African wood carving time travel portal.

King of the Castle - Written by Doctor Who's Bob Baker and Dave Martin, it's a surreal tale centred around a lonely boy, transported to a bizarre fantasy world in a malfunctioning lift. Totally bizarre and worth checking out.

Destroy All Robots

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013, 16:14:58 GMT
Nat35 says:
How about Rene Barjavel: the Ice people? Also 'Ravage', read in French but you might be able to get it in English. I read these book about 3 times.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013, 16:27:14 GMT
Brother Grim says:
I'll have to check them out, I've heard of them but not read. I seem to remember they were a spin on the '68 riots, is that right?

Destroy All Robots

Posted on 19 Jan 2013, 07:01:12 GMT
Paul Tapner says:
I've got a few episodes of the Boy from Space on VHS, having taped them off a cbbc repeat a few years back. That came from a series of school programmes called look and read. Amongst them was another series called Joe and the sheep rustlers [not science fiction] but there was also one called the Rain Gun. About a pair of children caught up in a conflict between two scientists who'd invented a ray gun that, if fired at the sky, would cause it to rain. One wanted to use it to alleviate drought stricken areas. But the other intended to use it to flood the fens, unless the government gave into his blackmail demands. I would like to see that again.

According to wikipedia the changes does still survive in the bbc archives, and was shown on uk gold in 1994. But there's no sign of a dvd release.

One series that I remember well from youth was Noah's castle. About a near future britain on the brink of civilisation collapsing, where one family try to survive via having hoarded a lot of food. Although the government is running propaganda campaigns turning people against hoarders. This was on at 4.45pm on weekdays. And I had no idea it was available on dvd till I just went searching. But it turns out that is

Noah's Castle - The Complete Series [DVD]

So that's going on my wishlist

Posted on 19 Jan 2013, 15:56:19 GMT
Brother Grim says:
Thanks on the heads-up on Rain Gun, Paul, I'd never heard of that one. I'd love to track that one down, some of those Look and Reads were very good considering the age they were aimed at. I remember Joe and the Sheep Rustlers from the early seventies, loved it!

Noah's Castle was one of those series that passed me by. I think I caught one episode, I seem to remember a punk theme which was current at the time. Good to know it's available now, I might take a punt on it. Thanks for the suggestions.

Destroy All Robots

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013, 19:18:03 GMT
Paul Tapner says:
Something else I do still have a bit of on VHS is Doomwatch. The BBC released two tapes , nigh on twenty years ago, of episodes from the 1970's series about a team that deals with scientific mishaps. I don't think the whole show survives in the bbc archives, but even those four episodes are conspicuous by their absence on dvd.

As is out of the unknown. A bbc drama series of the 1960's that every episode did a dramatisation of a different science fiction short story. Including an Asimov or two. This also hasn't entirely survived being wiped but according to wikipedia twenty of the forty nine episodes that were produced still exist. I did see the shows' version of JG Ballard's 'Thirteen to Centaurus' when BBC3 showed it as part of a tribute to the writer back in 2003. But it would be nice to see the other episodes that survive.

Posted on 20 Jan 2013, 13:45:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jan 2013, 13:45:58 GMT
Brother Grim says:
You sound like you've got some real treasure's in the archives, Paul! I loved Doomwatch, but haven't seen any episodes since the original transmission. And had quite forgotten all about it until you mentioned it. I'll have to try and track down those BBC tapes down.

I'd heard of Out of the Unknown but was too young to have seen any episodes. I'd always wondered what those Asimov dramatisations would be like. Somehow those low visual quality transmissions of that era created a lot of atmosphere (and hid a multitude of sins in the SFX department). One of the reasons I'm still a fan of the original Quatermass TV series.

Speaking of Nigel Kneale, I finally tracked down "Beasts" which I hadn't seen since the 70's. I was impressed with how well it looks today, some of the episodes are still genuinely chilling. Top quality writing.

Great suggestions, Paul, thanks for your time.

Destroy All Robots

Posted on 22 Jan 2013, 00:37:31 GMT
G. Owens says:
Out of the Unknown did pretty much the definitive dramatisation of The Machine Stops. Very stagy, very BBC, but very close to the original story and utterly compelling.

Posted on 22 Jan 2013, 14:24:10 GMT
Brother Grim says:
I would love to see this - does anyone know if this particular story (The Machine Stops) has been wiped? Probably has, although Wikipedia doesn't make it clear. To be honest I hadn't realised they made four series of Out of the Unknown. It's a shame that no new anthology BBC series like this or Play For Tomorrow is being made now.

Destroy All Robots

Posted on 22 Jan 2013, 14:33:52 GMT
G. Owens says:
Definitely not wiped, return to Google and Google it a bit harder

Posted on 23 Jan 2013, 14:05:32 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jan 2013, 14:05:48 GMT
Cartimand says:
Good call for Noah's Castle. Very much a product of the late 70's dystopia, but still worth a watch today (and brilliant theme tune!).
My all-time favourite post-apocalyptic series has to be Survivors - Series 1-3 Box Set [DVD] [1975]. Now that really got into my dreams when I were a lad. Vastly better than the woeful remake that came out a year or so back.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2013, 14:40:25 GMT
Brother Grim says:
Ditto the theme music, sounds link an OMD b-side! Check it out:


Destroy All Robots

Posted on 24 Jan 2013, 06:22:12 GMT
The only "gem" of the past for me was not on TV at all but on the radio. It was BBC's "Journey into Space" with characters Mitch, Doc, Lemmy and the mysterious Whitaker. This would have been in the early 50's.

Posted on 24 Jan 2013, 06:46:11 GMT
Paul Tapner says:
Most of the changes happens to be on youtube as well:


In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2013, 09:38:39 GMT
G. Owens says:
They repeat those from time to time on Radio 4 Extra (BBC 7 as used to be) It's really odd to hear the present David Jacobs, introducing his young self. I seem to remember Charles Chilton wrote a new one specially for the station.

I bought the Toby Litt book on the strength of having the same title, but turned out to be one of those Literary Authors who condescend to write a Science Fiction book, nothing to do with it at all. (it cost too much and was a bit dull. I put it down and forgot I was reading it)

Posted on 29 Jan 2014, 19:29:10 GMT
Millenium with Lance henrickson as Frank black an ex FBI profiler with a telepathic like ability to see into the minds of killers he is tracking. Chris carter's short lived follow up to The x files defo deserves to be repeated.

Posted on 29 Jan 2014, 20:45:32 GMT
+1 Millennium, such an overlooked series

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2014, 21:09:12 GMT
T.W. Marshall,

I remember an episode of Millenium about a pack of wild dogs called "Beware of the dogs".

I can't remember much of the other episodes but i did like the darker tone of the show and Lance henrickson's Frank black character made it watchable.

Posted on 29 Jan 2014, 21:34:48 GMT
I think it's one of them things you had to watch it first time round when all the millennial weirdness was in full flow... A bit like Deus Ex, the game looses a lot now that times have moved on...

Posted on 30 Jan 2014, 10:11:06 GMT
Bearman says:
Has no one mentioned the all time great "Blakes 7"? What about the highly underrated (but I loved it) "Sapphire and Steel" starring David McCallum and Joanna Lumley?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2014, 10:35:40 GMT
Dan Fante says:
I loved both of those. They're probably a bit naff in retrospect, but still...
A couple more are 'Chocky' a kid's TV series adapted from the John Wyndham book and the BBC series from the early 80s 'The Day of the Triffids' (another Wyndham adaptation as it happens). I've only read the latter.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2014, 12:18:20 GMT
C. J. Taylor says:
Thank you Brother Grim !! The Changes !! I've been trying to remember the name of this series for YEARS !!
Freaked me at the time. I'll be trying to find this now.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2014, 18:31:02 GMT
The Invaders with Roy Thinnes,seriously good TV but sadly was never given a satisfying conclusion and a rather muddled,short lived but could have been great reboot some years later.Also Gerry Anderson's live action UFO,War of The Worlds,Alien Nation(TV series) a Tremors spin off that lasted about six episodes but showed a lot of promise(well,I liked it!),Time Tunnel,Land of the Giants and Sliders,1999 to name but a few that were compulsory viewing back then.

Posted on 31 Jan 2014, 12:03:13 GMT
Dan Fante says:
Does anyone remember this: Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]?
Another one I used to love as a kid but fear may not be that great 30-odd years on.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2014, 16:31:44 GMT
They never finished the story properly, the Beeb pulled the budget because of the poor viewing figures.

I remember watching bits of it being made in Black Park.
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