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Very British Futures

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Enthusiastic, informed analysis of British television's most interesting science fiction series. From cult favourites like "The Tripods" to obscurities such as "The Uninvited". Each episode, host Gareth Preston is joined by special guests to discuss a show, celebrating its ideas, achievements and sometimes its mistakes. Visit our website at Follow us on Twitter @futuresvery Visit our Facebook at Visit for books relating to the podcast and its contributors


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Enthusiastic, informed analysis of British television's most interesting science fiction series. From cult favourites like "The Tripods" to obscurities such as "The Uninvited". Each episode, host Gareth Preston is joined by special guests to discuss a show, celebrating its ideas, achievements and sometimes its mistakes. Visit our website at Follow us on Twitter @futuresvery Visit our Facebook at Visit for books relating to the podcast and its contributors





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Space: 1999

Imagine Star Trek designed by Stanley Kubrick and inhabited by a plethora of familiar (or soon to be familiar) British actors, led by three American TV stars. It's a SF show that mixes big imaginative concepts with foam machines and alien babes in tight costumes. It looks amazing, with one of the most iconic spaceships that ever flew across the small screen. And for a while, it was one of the biggest SF series on TV. The Moon has escaped orbit and gone warping across the galaxy. Each episode the survivors face new aliens and new terrors. The time, the place? Space: 1999! Space: 1999 ran for 48 episodes across two seasons between 1975 and 1977. Made by ITC and produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, although Star Trek producer Fred Freiberger took over day to day running of the second season. Brian Johnson headed the special effects modelwork and would later gain acclaim for The Empire Strikes Back and The Neverending Story. Very British Futures host Gareth Preston invites nostalgic Ian Taylor and recent fan Kara Dennison to examine one of ITC's biggest undertakings. They'll be taking an especially close look at "Dragon's Domain", "Earthbound" and "The Beta Cloud". Follow the podcast on: Twitter @futuresvery Facebook Visit our website for plenty of related links about Space: 1999 and our guests. Email us at Find out more about Kara Dennison's work at Find out more about Ian Taylor's horror anthologies at --- Send in a voice message:


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Stingray (Christmas Special)

Seasons greetings! Stingray is the iconic children's television series that captured the imagination of Sixties viewers. Created by the legendary Gerry and Sylvia Andersonthis pioneering show set new standards for their Supermarionation process, as well as being their first in colour. The series follows the adventures of the crew aboard the futuristic submarine known as Stingray, designed for undersea exploration and defense. Led by the valiant Captain Troy Tempest, his partner Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan, and the enigmatic Marina, a mystical undersea woman, the trio works for WASP (the World Aquatic Security Patrol) and embark on daring missions to protect the ocean and humanity from various threats. They regularly battle King Titan, ruler of the Aquaphibians, and his cunning spy X-2-Zero. Whilst definitely a children's show, Stingray has an unusual depth of character development, largely thanks to the romantic triangle between Troy, Marina, and Atlanta, a fellow WASP officer and daughter of the WASP's leader, Commander Shore. Shore himself had an interesting back story, having been crippled and left hoverchair bound by nameless underwater aliens. For this special Christmas edition of Very British Futures, regular guest John Isles, and his daughter Amber, join Gareth Preston to watch "A Christmas to Remember", written by Dennis Spooner and directed by Alan Pattillo. Find out more about this episode and the podcast at Follow us on X / Twitter @FuturesVery Visit us on Facebook at Find out more about the I Don't Do SciFi podcast --- Send in a voice message:


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The Day After Tomorrow

A fascinating curio from producer Gerry Anderson's peak period, made in between seasons one and two of Space: 1999 and featuring many personnel from that programme. The spaceship Altares, with a photon drive capable of accelerating it to the speed of light, leaves an Earth-orbiting space station. The Altares crew, two families of trained specialists, journey at light speed to Alpha Centauri, experiencing time-dilation. After launching several satellites to transmit information on the Centauri star system back to Earth, guiding future vessels exploring the star system, the families vote to explore further, but a meteorite strike sends their ship accelerating out of control. Like the original blueprint of Doctor Who and Pathfinders in Space, Special Treats producer George Heinemann, Century 21 owner Gerry Anderson, and writer Johnny Bryne's intention was combine education with entertainment. In particular, the show illustrated Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Speaking to Starlog magazine in 1979, Heinemann said, “When the teacher wrote E = mc2 on the board, I wanted the young viewer to recall the programme and say, "Yeah, I saw a programme about that. I want to learn more about it." Starring Brian Blessed, Nick Tate and Joanna Dunham Written by Johnny Byrne Directed by Charles Crichton I was fortunate to be joined by Felicia Baxter, writer, podcaster and former NASA intern, to look back at this unique British production which was originally shown on both NBC and BBC1. Visit our website for more information links and episodes ⁠⁠ Follow the podcast on Twitter ⁠ Email us at Visit our Facebook page ⁠ Find out more about my guest Felicia Baxter at: and learn more about her books at: --- Send in a voice message:


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The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is one of the best known science fiction novels in Britain. For many viewers, the 1981 BBC adaptation remains the best and closest version. The series follows the story of Bill Marsden, a farmer living in a post-apocalyptic world after a meteor shower has rendered most of the population blind. The disaster also allows a species of mobile carnivorous plant called Triffids to escape and multiply. Bill is a young man who has retained his sight due to being protected by bandages, ironically after a Triffid attack. As he navigates the dangers of the new world, he meets a young woman called Joselyn and together they face tough choices, trying to balance compassion and self-preservation. The drama explores themes of survival, adaptation, and the dangers of unchecked scientific progress. I must credit Andrew Pixley for his exhaustive DVD viewing notes in helping me research this podcast. For this episode I was lucky to be joined by writer Rik Hoskin, singer and actor Ella Burton and actor and director Chris Burton. Visit our website for more information links and episodes Follow the podcast on Twitter @futuresvery Email us at Visit our Facebook page You can order Rik Hoskin's latest graphic novel Red Rising: Sons of Ares Vol 3 now --- Send in a voice message:


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Chocky was a science fiction novel by John Wyndham, the final one published in his lifetime (1968). It tells the story of an 11 year old boy named Matthew, who begins to exhibit strange behavior and abilities that concern his parents. They learn that Matthew has an imaginary friend named Chocky, who is actually a highly advanced alien being with a mission to help humanity. Yet the alien knows enough about humanity to know that if people discover the truth, Matthew's life will be in danger from groups who want to exploit Chocky's knowledge for their own wealth and power. The novel was adapted for radio and most famously into a 1984 ITV television series which led to two original sequels, written by Anthony Read. Although the novel is narrated from the viewpoint of Matthew's father, the series is much more from the children's perspective. Very popular at the time with CITV viewers, the series is fondly remembered. In fact the Wyndham estate regards it as one of the best adaptations of his work. As part of the research for this episode, Gareth Preston spoke to producer Richard Bates (A Touch of Frost, The Tripods) who originally obtained the rights for a television adaptation of Chocky, and served as both creative consultant and producer of the third and final series. Joining Gareth for this edition is our regular guest Dr Rebecca Wray, and author and publisher Will Hadcroft. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @futuresvery Join our Discord server Email us at You can hear more from Rebecca Wray at Find out more about Will Hadcroft's books at --- Send in a voice message:


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It wouldn't be claiming too much to say that George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 is one of the key books of post-war Britain and its influence is still with us today. Big Brother, newspeak, double-think, thought police, are all concepts used in politics and social media. However, the book might not have broken into the mainstream without the help of a BBC television adaptation in 1954. It created controversy in the newspapers and even the Houses of Parliament, whilst gripping the nation at a time when the BBC was still the sole broadcaster in the UK. The story is set in a futuristic world where the government is led by IngSoc, headed by a man known as Big Brother. The Party seeks to control every aspect of people's lives, including their thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. Winston Smith (Peter Cushing) is a low-ranking member of the Party who works in the Ministry of Truth, where he is responsible for altering historical records to conform to the Party's version of reality. Despite being a loyal member of the Party, Winston is secretly unhappy with the oppressive regime and begins to rebel against it. He begins a secret affair with Julia (Yvonne Mitchell), a party member from the Fiction department. Together they become involved with a group known as the Brotherhood, which is rumoured to be a group of rebels who are plotting against the Party. However the Brotherhood is actually a myth created by the Party to lure out and eliminate any potential dissenters. Despite his efforts to rebel against the Party, Winston is ultimately unable to escape their control and is captured and tortured until he fully conforms to their ideology. The novel ends with Winston being released back into society, fully loyal to the Party and completely brainwashed. Written by Nigel Kneale and produced by Rudolph Cartier, using everything they had learnt from their previous hit drama The Quatermass Experiment, the play translated Orwell's cautionary tale into a grim, futuristic drama that stretched the resources of the drama department to new frontiers. The result is a production which still has power today, as evidenced by the 2022 BFI bluray release. Writers Andrew Scott Roe-Crines and John Isles return to the show to join Gareth Preston in discussing the messages of the book and strengths of this television play. Find out about what the papers said, how the Ingsoc party operates and the nightmare of Newspeak. Please visit our website at Follow us on Twitter @futuresvery Buy the novel and many more at Email us at --- Send in a voice message:


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The Flipside of Dominick Hide & Another Flip for Dominick

Who hasn't dreamed of stepping into a time machine and whizzing off to an exciting historical destination? Dominick Hide certainly has, but he's under strict instructions to only observe from the air, never land, never get involved. But Dominick is insatiably curious about the wild heady world of 1980 and his long lost ancestor, so one night he does touch down, stepping into a romantic adventure with a beautiful shop owner called Jane. How long can keep up his illegal excursions? What will be the consequences for his wife Ava and the future itself? One of the best remembered productions of BBC's legendary Play for Today strand, The Flipside of Dominick Hide begat a sequel, Another Flip for Dominick and ultimately led to a series of SF stories - Play for Tomorrow. Before Back to the Future's Marty McFly ever climbed into a Delorean, these stories successfully mixed genuine science fiction, with humour and romance for a prime time audience. Starring: Peter Firth, Caroline Langshire, Pippa Guard & Patrick Magee Written by Jeremy Paul & Alan Gibson Produced by Chris Cherry Directed by Alan Gibson Tim Reid and Charles Auchterlonie, hosts of The Randomiser podcast, join us to talk about grandfather paradoxes, smooth rock, honesty between partners and BBC costume designs for the future. Follow the podcast on: Twitter @futuresvery Facebook Visit our website at Email us at Enjoy the The Randomiser podcast at: --- Send in a voice message:


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The Aliens

Season 2 kicks off with E4's seemingly little remembered comedy drama about extra-terrestrial immigrants - The Aliens. UK in the near future and humanity has made its first contact with alien life. Instead of changing the world, the survivors of a crashed spacecraft from the 1970's have become Britain's latest despised underclass. Heavily policed, carrying out menial jobs and being forced to live in a walled ghetto called Troy. Lewis is one of the border guards and shares the common prejudices about the 'morks', until an accident reveals he is something allegedly impossible: a human-alien hybrid. What's more he is in love with an enigmatic webcam performer Lilyhot, who reveals his true alien father Antoine is a major boss in Troy. Gareth, Rebecca and Dani take a look into all six episodes to consider whether it's a neglected gem. It had an impressive cast including Michael Socha, Michaela Cole, Jim Howick and Michael Smiley. You can find more information about the series and links to further reading at the Very British Futures website. --- Send in a voice message:


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Outcasts followed the trials of humanity's first, and it would seem, last colony on a new planet. A new frontier of hope for a better world, but dogged by human weaknesses of the oldest kind. A major new BBC adult science fiction series for the 21st century. At least that was the pitch. Kudos were one of the coolest TV companies around, with dramas like Life on Mars and Spooks under their belt. Writer and producer Ben Richards had made his name with the latter and had recently written cult drama Party Animals. The cast was filled with talents like Liam Cunningham, Eric Maibus and Hermione Norris and well-spent budget and South African location meant that this show looked glossy and impressive. However as soon as Outcasts hit the airwaves it received a critical drubbing and indifference from both the mainstream and SF genre audiences. What went wrong? How much went right? This episode Gareth Preston is joined by three returning voices Dr Rebecca Wray, John Isles and Nicky Smalley to discuss mysterious aliens, petulant teenagers and how much influence Battlestar Galactica had. Follow us on Twitter at @FuturesVery and at for more news and reviews. Find out more about the forthcoming podcasts Tripodscast by following @tripodscast and Unended by following @unended_podcast The interview with Ben Richards we reference several time can be read in full at Den of Geek. Music by Charti Art Produced by Gareth Preston sWwkxy3CJdvbXJ7lepTV --- Send in a voice message:


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Des Kinvig's small world is turned upside when he discovers one of his customers, sexy Miss Griffin is in fact an alien from Mercury, fighting a secret war with the Xux. Is he really the only man who can help her save the Earth? Or is he just a desperate fantasist who's been listening to his UFO-mad friend Jim Piper for too long? Nigel Kneale, creator of Quatermass, writer of TV classics such The Stone Tape, 1984, and Beasts, took an unexpected turn into situation comedy for 1981's Kinvig. Starring Tony Haygarth, Patsy Rowlands, Prunella Gee and Colin Jeavons. A science fiction parody that mocked many of his fans, it has remained one of the curios of Eighties television. Could it ever have worked? Is funny now and was it even then? Taking a closer look at with Gareth Preston, in one person's case against their will, are Tim Reid and Charles Auchterlonie, hosts of The Randomiser podcast. Music by Chatri Art Produced by Gareth Preston Follow the podcast on twitter at @FuturesVery and for more information and reviews, visit --- Send in a voice message:


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Out of the Unknown

Deep space explorers encountering strange new dangers. Mutant powers hidden among us. Futuristic societies with surprising moralities. Cutting edge technology bringing unexpected dilemmas for the people who use it. Created by the pioneering television producer Irene Shubik and featuring some of the leading talents on television on both sides of the lens, Out of the Unknown remains one of the BBC's best science fiction series. Drawing on stories from SF masters such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham and John Brunner, as well as original scripts, it remains one of television's most sustained attempts to adapt the mood of literary science fiction. Gareth Preston is joined by Stephen Hatcher and Dylan Rees to discuss the series, which sadly is missing half its episodes, yet what remains is still thrilling and challenging. Along the way they pay particular attention to three key episodes: The Dead Past, Some Lapse of Time and The Machine Stops. Music by Chatri Art Produced by Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery or visit for more information. --- Send in a voice message:


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The Nightmare Man

The tourist season is over and Inverdee Island is closing down and preparing for the winter. But when the body of Shelia Anderson is discovered, seemingly torn apart by a killer with inhuman strength, the islanders must join together to fight something terrifyingly unknown. Broadcast only once in 1981, The Nightmare Man has achieved cult status as rare but expertly made piece of primetime SF/Horror from the BBC. Looking into the roots of this drama and Child of Vodyanoi, the original novel it is adapted from, Gareth Preston is joined by writers Ian Taylor and John Isles. Can it be compared with Doctor Who of the time? How well does Cornwall stand in for Scotland? How scary is it for a modern audience? Produced by Gareth Preston Music by Chatri Art ( ) Ian Taylor's book on the career of Jenny Agutter All Sorts of Things May Happen is available from We Belong Dead books. --- Send in a voice message:


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It's just another day in Sheffield, everyone going about their own affairs, when suddenly the unthinkable happens - a nuclear strike. When the survivors scrabble out of the rubble, that is just the beginning of a waking nightmare, as modern society quickly crumbles into starvation and suffering. The BBC2 TV play Threads was a television landmark that is still as powerful today as it was in 1982. Written by Barry (Kes) Hines and directed by Mick Jackson before he went to Hollywood, it is a polemic, extensively researched attempt to depict the true horror of life after a nuclear conflict. Joining Gareth Preston to discuss this memorable production are author Rik Hoskin and lecturer Andrew Roe-Crines. Follow Very British Futures on Twitter @FuturesVery and find out more at Bystander 27, Rik Hoskin's latest novel is available at all good bookshops. You can read Selecting Starmer, one of Andrew Roe-Crines' recent articles on left-wing politics, for free at --- Send in a voice message:


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Star Cops

Mankind is busy colonising the solar system. Space stations in orbit, a busy moonbase, and pioneers on Mars. A new frontier however brings new opportunities for crime: industrial, political and personal. That's where the International Space Police Force (ISPF) come in, known sardonically as the Star Cops. Now career cop Nathan Spring has been reluctantly sent into space to shake up the volunteers and turn them into a real police service. Created by Chris Boucher, writer for Blake's 7 and Shoestring amongst other shows, Star Cops was broadcast to little acclaim in 1987, but has built up a cult following over the years and is widely regarded as one of great lost opportunities of British SF television. Taking an appreciative look back with host Gareth Preston are Peter Grehen, Kevin Hiley and Dr Rebecca Wray. Music by Chatri Art Produced by Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery or visit for more information For more information on Peter Grehen's novels and other writings visit For more information on Kevin Hiley and Westlake Films visit --- Send in a voice message:


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Max Headroom - 20 Minutes into the Future

Somewhere in the world, sometime in the future where television is the only growth industry, star reporter Edison Carter is on the track of hot new story about a new kind of advertising, unskippable, unavoidable and for many people - fatal. When boy genius Bryce sets a lethal trap for him, Edison is left in a coma, but a copy of his mind is about to become something unique - the world's first computer generated lifeform - Max Headroom! Catch the wave with us back to 1985 when for a few months pop culture went M-M-M-Max mad. The TV film, the pop videos, the fizzy drinks, the legend that was Max Headroom. Joining Gareth Preston from their own personal TV studios are talking heads Amy Elizabeth and Steve Noble. Blade Runner, Ultravox, Shakespeare and early Eighties computing are all in there, along with a bonus chat about the Red Dwarf Smegazine. Music by Chatri Art ( ) Produced by Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery and at --- Send in a voice message:


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The Uninvited

When retired photojournalist Steve Blake sees a man die in a car explosion, then meets the same man the next day apparently unscathed, it is the beginning of a terrifying journey. The thread leads Blake and a woman called Melissa Gates to the mystery of the disappearance of Sweet Hope beneath the sea, a village whose population was miraculously rescued that night by Constable Philip Gates. Or were they? After a horrific discovery underwater, Steve and Melissa realise they have uncovered a secret alien invasion. Who can they convince? Who can they trust? Including each other? Made in 1997, by Zenith Entertainment for ITV, The Uninvited was a alien conspiracy thriller firmly in the tradition of Sixties US television series The Invaders, with nods to John Wyndham. Starring Douglas Hodge, Leslie Grantham and Sylvestra Le Touzel. Join Gareth Preston, John Isles and Nicky Smalley as they go back to an era where the internet was still a strange new medium for most people, mainstream SF was a rare sight on British television screens, and ITV seemed to want every drama to be a prestige murder mystery. Music - Chatri Art ( ) Producer - Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter at @FuturesVery and visit for more reviews and news. --- Send in a voice message:


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Star Maidens

The rogue planet Medusa arrives in our solar system. Beneath its surface is an advanced alien civilisation where women rule and men are slaves. Adam and Shem steal a space yacht and travel to Earth, a paradise where it is rumoured that men are in charge and women obey. Hot in pursuit are Security Chief Octavia and Councillor Fulvia, Adam's owner. A space adventure series, a satire on the battle of the sexes, a SF parody, or a seriously intended rival to Gerry Anderson's Century 21 productions? Star Maidens is a mass of contradictions wrapped in Seventies disco futurism and C&A fashion disasters. Joining host Gareth Preston to try and untangle this British/German patchwork is Dr Rebecca Wray and Kevin Hiley. Music by Chatri Ahpornsiri ( ) Production by Gareth Preston You can follow us on @FuturesVery on Twitter for photos, previews of upcoming episodes and discussion. Or take a look at for more information and reviews. --- Send in a voice message:


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The Tripods

Earth 2089. A time of peace and contentment thanks to the benevolent rule of the Tripods, huge machine beings who "cap" teenagers to make them productive adults. Yet, Will Parker believes there is something very wrong with the world, and together with his cousin Henry, sets out on a quest to find the legendary Free Men and ultimately topple the Tripods. At its time it was the biggest SF production ever mounted by the BBC. Yet two years in it was unceremoniously cancelled, leaving its characters on a grim cliffhanger. Join Gareth, with guests Andrew Roe-Crines and Kevin Hiley as they take a deep dive into the John Christopher's celebrated SF trilogy. How does the series stand up today? In a larger picture, were the Tripods and their secret Masters really the good guys? Follow us on Twitter at @FuturesVery and visit for more news and reviews. --- Send in a voice message:


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Knights of God

In the near-future (2020!) post civil war Britain is ruled by a military dictatorship - The Knights of God. A young man called Gervaise becomes a key player in both the resistance and the plans of the fanatical Prior Mordrin. We journey back to the Eighties to take a critical look at ITV's post-apocalyptic Sunday teatime adventure series, which featured an impressive cast and budget. Why did it remind us of Harry Potter? What motivates the Knights? How do these characters get around the country so fast? Gareth Preston is joined by Kevin Hiley and Dr Rebecca Wray to consider violence, religion and why some series seem to fade into obscurity. Music by Chatri Art ( Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery --- Send in a voice message:


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Pathfinders in Space

At the beginning of the space age, a plucky band of scientists and children launch into adventures on the Moon, Mars and Venus. They are - Pathfinders in Space! UK television has created some of most influential, imaginative and scary science fiction in the medium's short history. Take a journey into some of the lesser known regions with Very British Futures. We begin with the ABC 1961-62 teatime drama series created by Sydney Newman, the television pioneer who would later devise Doctor Who for the BBC. What is the secret of Gerald Flood's acting? How much research did writers Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice do? Why did they deliberately put microphone booms into the frame? Where does the Lost Planet fit in? Host Gareth Preston is joined by Nigel J Anderson and Brian Clarke to celebrate this overlooked science fiction programme. Music by Chatri Art ( --- Send in a voice message: