Brit Ballistic
British sci-fi television in all shapes and sizes


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The Avengers [with Emma Peel]
50 episodes (1965-67) 60m


At least 17 episodes of this series can be safely classified as sci-fi, with several others containing science fictional elements. The show hit a creative peak from 1965-67 when Diana Rigg (playing Emma Peel) took over as secret agent John Steed's sidekick. Most of the SF episodes were penned by Philip Levene. A "complete Emma Peel mega-set" is available on DVD.





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The Prisoner
17 episodes (1967-68) 60m


Only the British could get away with making a TV series this surreal. Star Patrick McGoohan (Number 6), who also wrote and financed the series, confronts a succession of Number 2s in trying to escape from 'The Village' - with large guardian-balls thwarting every attempt. Lost? Number 6 could never get a straight answer to a question either. A six-part revival miniseries aired in 2009.





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The Champions
30 episodes (1968-69) 60m


When their plane crashes, three agents from an organisation working for all the world's governments are endowed with super human physical and mental powers courtesy of some mysterious Tibetans. Law, order and justice inevitably prevail as they go about averting international crises. Topnotch in its day, but has not aged nearly as well as the Peel-era Avengers or The Prisoner.





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UFO
26 episodes (1970-71) 60m


Gerry Anderson abandons puppets for live actors in this superior pre-cursor to Space 1999. Near-future Earth is invaded by flying saucers full of nasty aliens. Only SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) resistance is offered, and then only for one 26-episode season. The saucy sexual content of the first episode was quickly toned down, which is an absolute crying shame.





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Doomwatch
38 episodes (1970-72) 60m


Surprise UK hit which didn't shy away from contemporary ethical issues raised by scientific 'advances' - particularly biotechnology. A government department monitors new science and technology, tackling any related catastrophe that pops up in the process. The term 'doomwatch scenario' became a popular catch-phrase, even making it to the floor of Parliament.





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Survivors
38 episodes (1975-77) 60m


Post-apocalyptic survival story about groups of middle-class Brits trying to preserve the last remnants of civilisation. Creator Terry Nation (of Doctor Who fame) depicts a sombre atmosphere that looks like it came straight out of the pages of a John Wyndham novel. Significant cast changes between seasons caused some serious continuity problems.





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The Day of the Triffids
6 episodes (1981) 30m


A superb BBC adaptation of the classic John Wyndham 'cosy catastrophe'. When a meteorite shower causes mass blindness carnivorous plants go on the rampage against their human masters. As typical for BBC productions, the SFX are pretty basic and the dialogue can be a bit plodding at times. Had enough going for it, however, to put a 2009 remake on the drawing board.





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Goodnight Sweetheart
57 episodes (1993-99) 30m


Gary Sparrow regularly time-hops back to World War II Britain where he is having an affair with a publican's daughter. He somewhat questionably reasons that this is not as morally reprehensible as adultery in his wife's time-frame. Things get more complicated when he decides to go ahead and have families in both existences. Fun time-tripping science-fantasy.


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