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Science fiction Britannia

03/09/2006. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Fans of British science fiction are in for a special treat this autumn of 2006 as the TV station BBC Four pays homage to the genre with a season of films and programmes.

Covering everything from the cult appeal of Blake's 7 to the literary genius of John Wyndham, the channel boldly explores all aspects of the subject to get to the heart of its seemingly universal appeal.

The Martians And Us

The Martians And Us, a three-part series of films, traces the history of the literary genre. Each of the three films looks at one of the central driving themes of British science fiction.

Apes And Aliens explores the fascination with evolution in all its forms. Through A Glass Darkly examines the British tradition of Utopias and Dystopias; whilst the third film, Last Man Alive, reflects the British fascination with catastrophe and the end of the world as we know it.

How To Be Sci-Fi

Examining the lighter side of being in a British science fiction television series, Nigel Planer plays classically-trained "actawr" Nicholas Craig in a one-hour special, How To Be Sci-Fi, which looks at the perils and pitfalls that lie ahead for anyone brave enough to grapple with that most demanding of mistresses - "outer-space acting".

Nicholas supplements tips for the aspiring thespian with clips from classic British sci-fi series and offers invaluable advice and guidance on, among other topics, how to wear a roll neck, gain motivation for playing green slime and master that all-important look of horror.

Random Quest

At the centre of the season is Random Quest, a science fiction romance drama based on a short story by John Wyndham.

Adapted for television by Richard Fell, Random Quest tells the extraordinary story of Colin Trafford, a research physicist who, knocked unconscious in an experiment which goes wrong, wakes to find himself in a parallel world.

In this other world Colin finds he has another life including a beautiful wife, Ottilie, who he proceeds to fall in love with.

Pulled back into his own world, he is told he has been in a coma since the accident but Colin believes the other world and Ottilie exist and he goes in search of her.

The Story Of British Sci-Fi

In The Story Of British Sci-Fi (working title) Phill Jupitus goes in search of the origins and stories behind the starriest shows in the television universe.

He meets actors, writers and others to talk about some of the best-loved British science-fiction series, including Adam Adamant, Doomwatch, The Survivors, Blake's 7, The Tripods and Starcops.

Timeshift - Parallel Worlds

BBC FOUR's Timeshift - Parallel Worlds takes a look at the belief which pervades so much of British science fiction - that there is another world sitting shoulder to shoulder with Earth but with a difference.

The strand examines how the idea unfolded from its origins in religion and mythology, got transformed by the theory of quantum mechanics and multiplied trillions of times into multi-universes by modern science fiction writers.

Other programming in the season includes feature films and television archive. The Martians And Us is a Blast films production. The Story Of British Sci-Fi, Timeshift - Parallel Worlds, How To Be Sci-Fi and Random Quest are BBC productions.

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