UFO Original Screenplays Volume 1 by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick and Ian Scott Stewart (book review).

April 30, 2015 | By | Reply More

I came across ‘UFO Original Screenplays Volume 1’ on the long river website about five years back being sold at astronomical (sic) prices but added it to my buy list there and hoped I might be lucky. It suddenly disappeared off the list when it wasn’t available at all and then suddenly a decently priced copy appeared and I grabbed with open arms this month. My ability for infinite patience paid off and the whole point of this review is to indicate whether you should add to your wants list or not, always be patient.

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As the title should have clued you in by now, these are the first four draft scripts of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s 1970 series ‘UFO’ before they got revised with character changes and, with the first story, major scene revisions and the order they were shown. The book is a product of the Gerry Anderson Fan Club, hence it doesn’t have an ISBN code but the production is a first class paperback with quality paper and twelve pages of mostly colour photos with a scattering of black and white photos, a couple of which I haven’t seen before. Considering the rarity of this book now, I’m surprised there wasn’t a volume 2, although I’m sure someone will correct me if there is and it hasn’t appeared in the secondary market.

Chris Bentley in the introduction goes over the early history of ‘UFO’ and how actor changes were initiated because of various reasons and availability. Sorting this out was often a re-distribution of lines but you won’t see that here although I’m sure if you have or had the book, you’ll be re-watching to give yourself some insight into how a script is done, so there is some insight into how rewriting is done and that no script is treated as precious until it’s in the can. Something I hadn’t realised was scriptwriter Donald James gave some uncredited helped to the Andersons pilot story.

So what we have here is the original stories for ‘Identified’, ‘Computer Affair’, ‘Flight Path’ and ‘Survival’. If you’re a ‘UFO’ fan, I shouldn’t need to tell you much about these stories. The pilot ‘Identified’ gives the gist of the series. ‘Computer Affair’ about relying too much on computers for identifying relationships, although in those days, people didn’t know too much about software. ‘Flight Path’ of how the aliens manipulate to get the data they want. ‘Survival’ of how to become friends with an alien, when you’re trapped alone with one on the Moon.

A lot of other things come out in this story. The occasional removed scene didn’t surprise me as scriptwriters don’t always know the timings for the story and having something that can be used or neatly snipped without ruining the plot. It was also interesting to see the original plan was to see the Moonbase girls could take off their anti-static purple wigs when off-duty which wasn’t used in the final recordings. Likewise, the Moonbase Interceptor pilots did actually wear astronaut suits when in flight which explains why in the 1973 Countdown Annual (and before anyone says it was also in their summer special) why the cutaway had the pilot in a spacesuit than the blue uniform they actually wore. To some extent, I can understand the change. Try jumping down the chutes in astronaut gear and if a UFO zaps you in flight, I doubt if a spacesuit would save your life. It doesn’t explain the logic flaw should an Interceptor have to connect to the Space Intruder Detector but they only went that far once but does show how far back the planning was done just in case. Don’t forget that when ‘UFO’ was created, there simply was no template to what was needed, although I doubt if any nation would agree to have an orbiting missile array in case it could be turned on the Earth. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the proposed new ‘UFO’ series would do.

I found this book a wonderful insight into ‘UFO’s past. Some of it I knew but seeing how it was portrayed in the scripts is something else again. I was reading this book so fast that I had to hold back a little to let it all sink in. Considering how the interest in the Anderson shows is still strong after all these years, I’m surprised one of the bigger publishers hasn’t thought to do this for all of their shows.

GF Willmetts

April 2015

(pub: Century 21 Books, 2001. 177 page illustrated paperback. Price: This really varies but I pulled this one for £ 9.99 (UK))

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Category: Books, Scifi, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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