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Born on this day
Vivian Ernest Fuchs
7th week in year
11 February 2019

Important eventsBack

BBC Television produces the world's first ever science fiction television program11.2.1938

Wikipedia (22 Feb 2013)

The first known piece of television science fiction anywhere in the world was produced by the BBC on February 11, 1938, a thirty-five-minute adaptation of a section of the play R.U.R..

In the summer of 1953, BBC staff writer Nigel Kneale created The Quatermass Experiment, the first of several Quatermass serials. In the 1960s, Britain's commercial television network, ITV, influenced by Canadian producer Sydney Newman produced the science-fiction serials Pathfinders In Space (1960) and its sequel Pathfinders to Venus (1961). In 1961, the BBC produced A for Andromeda about a supercomputer artificial intelligence created from instructions received from an alien transmission.

In 1963, the BBC began production of the longest-running science-fiction television series ever, Doctor Who, about a time travelling alien called the Doctor. Lasting for twenty-six seasons in its original form, it was successfully revived from 2005, now having 33 seasons. Doctor Who alumni moved on to create their own science-fiction programmes, such as Doomwatch (1970–73), Survivors (1975–77), and Blake's 7 (1978–81).

Gerry Anderson made science fiction series for ITV using the puppet based 'Supermarionation' technique including Fireball XL5 (1962–63), Thunderbirds (1965–66), Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967&68), and Stingray (1964–65) which all retain a following. Later he was able to develop live-action shows such as UFO (1970) and Space: 1999 (1975–77). A similar puppet-based series to the Anderson ones was Space Patrol (1962–64), produced by Roberta Leigh, for Associated British Corporation (ABC).

Other popular shows created during the 1960s that have achieved cult status included a tendency to look at the secret service for inspiration. Popular examples include the allegory Orwellian series The Prisoner, The Avengers and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), all produced for ITV.

ITV produced youth-oriented genre programmes during the 1970s, such as Timeslip (1970–71), The Tomorrow People (1973–79), and Children of the Stones (1977), as well as shows aimed at a wider audience such as the time-travel drama Sapphire & Steel (1979–82). Meanwhile, the BBC adapted The Changes (1975), which featured the quest of a teenage girl, Nicky Gore, to discover the cause of the shift back to the pre-industrial and pre-technological age, and bring it to an end.

The BBC adapted novels such as The Day of the Triffids (1981), The Invisible Man (1984), The Nightmare Man (1981, from the novel Child of the Vodyanoi) and The Tripods (1984–85), which however remained unfinished. The BBC also aired science fiction comedy series such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) by Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf (1988–99, 2009). Doctor Who was finally cancelled in 1989, not to return as a regular television series until 2005.

The BBC also produced several children's science fiction shows in the late 1990s to mid 2000s (decade). The most known examples of which being Aquila (TV series) (1997–1998) based on the novel by Andrew Norriss and Jeopardy (BBC TV series) (2002–2004) which won the 2002 BAFTA for Best Children's Drama.

Russell T Davies, responsible for the latest Doctor Who revival in its earlier seasons, began working in the BBC children's department in the 1990s. His first science fiction serial was Dark Season; two years later he wrote Century Falls. The BBC also produced the action adventure series Bugs, and co-produced Invasion: Earth with the US Sci Fi Channel. The new Doctor Who has spun off two series: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Other 21st century British science fiction shows have included the time travel drama Life on Mars, its sequel Ashes to Ashes, Being Human, Eleventh Hour and Primeval on ITV.

At end of the 2000s (decade), current series included Misfits, a show about a group of misfit teenagers who get superpowers and Paradox, a crime series in which events from the future are downloaded from a satellite in space. Outcasts is set in the middle of the 21st-century on Carpathia, a so-called Goldilocks planet five years' travel from Earth.

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