4. Day of the Triffids
I still find it difficult to go near a greenhouse because of this series!
The series takes place in late 20th century Britain. A spectacular meteorite shower unexpectedly renders most of humanity blind, leading to the breakdown of society literally overnight. Totally unaware of this, Bill Masen (John Duttine) has retained his sight by virtue of being in hospital with his eyes bandaged at the time of the shower. Bill works on a Triffid farm, where the mobile and carnivorous plants are cultivated for their oil. Prior to the story beginning he was stung by a plant, and even though he was wearing protective clothing, some of the poison gets into his eyes. In the hospital he tentatively removes the bandages himself and gradually discovers the catastrophe around him.
He rescues Josella “Jo” Playton (Emma Relph) from her blind captor and finds that she had slept through the meteorite shower thus keeping her own sight. They eventually come across a small band of similarly lucky survivors who have decided to leave London and establish a community elsewhere to begin rebuilding civilisation. They are initially opposed by sighted Jack Coker (Maurice Colbourne), who wants them to stay in London and help the blind, not abandon them. When the others reject his scheme, he and a few sighted helpers capture some of the group, including Bill and Jo. He assigns each to a different group of the blind. Bill is handcuffed to two of his charges to prevent him leaving them. Meanwhile, the Triffids get loose and run amok amongst the helpless blind human population, slaughtering and feeding on them. Between the Triffids and a mysterious disease, most of Bill’s group eventually die; the rest scatter. Bill starts searching for Jo, and teams up with Jack, who admits his plan did not work as he had hoped.
This show was actually meant for kids! Some of the episodes were truly terrifying! It’s one of those shows that still holds up today.
Dramarama was a British children’s anthology series broadcast on ITV between 1983 and 1989. The series tended to feature single dramas with a science fiction, supernatural and occasionally satirical theme. It was created by Anna Home, then head of children’s and youth programming at TVS, however the dramas themselves were produced by a total of twelve ITV regional companies. Thus, each episode was in practice a one-off production with its own cast and crew, up to and including the executive producer.
Dramarama was largely a showcase for new talent to television and offered debuts for Anthony Horowitz, Paul Abbott, Kay Mellor, Janice Hally, Tony Kearney, David Tennant and Ann Marie Di Mambro. It was also one of Dennis Spooner’s last works. One of the stories, Thames’ Dodger, Bonzo And The Rest from 1984, proved so popular that it was spun off into its own series and Christmas special the following year – the series starred Lee Ross and recounted life in a large foster home. Another story, Granada’s Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night from 1988, was developed into the long-running series Children’s Ward. The original Dramarama story was co-written by Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor – at the time, working as staff writers for Granada
6. Dr Who
Where do we start!? Davros, the Daleks, Cybermen… Need we go on?
Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC since 1963. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called “the Doctor”, an extraterrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor explores the universe in a time-travelling space ship called the TARDIS. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Accompanied by a number of companions, the Doctor combats a variety of foes, while working to save civilisations and help people in need.
The show is a significant part of British popular culture, and elsewhere it has gained a cult following. It has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a backdoor pilot, in the form of a television film titled Doctor Who. The programme was relaunched in 2005, and since then has been produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Doctor Who has also spawned numerous spin-offs, including comic books, films, novels, audio dramas, and the television series Torchwood (2006–2011), The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–2011), K-9 (2009–2010), and Class (2016), and has been the subject of many parodies and references in popular culture.