UK tv series (1970-1973). Century 21 Pictures Ltd Production/ITC. Created Gerry and Sylvia Anderson with Reg Hill. Executive producer Gerry Anderson. Produced by Reg Hill. Script editor Tony Barwick. Directors included Anderson, David Tomblin, Alan Perry, Dave Lane, Ken Turner. Writers included Barwick, Tomblin. Special effects Derek Meddings. 26 50-minute episodes. Colour.
Before this series the Andersons had been best known for their sf television puppet series, such as Thunderbirds. In this first live-action television series from them the actors certainly resembled puppets, and the make-up, apparently deliberately, reinforced the effect. Set in the then Near Future of 1980, UFO tells how SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization), headed by Commander Straker (Ed Bishop), fights against hostile, telepathic aliens in flying saucers (see UFOs). Meddings's special effects were impressive, though some of the props, costumes, etc., were recycled from the Andersons' first live-action production, the film Doppelganger (1969; vt Journey to the Far Side of the Sun). The bland scripts, though more sophisticated than those of the SuperMarionation puppet series, were typical of Anderson productions (see also Space: 1999), possibly because the Andersons underestimated children's intelligence. Many of the stories, about elusive disguised aliens, were reminiscent of episodes of The Invaders (1967-1968). Though there were only 26 episodes, lack of enthusiasm by the commercial networks led to a gap of more than two years between first and last. Ties are UFO (1970; vt UFO-1: Flesh Hunters 1973) and UFO 2 (1971; vt UFO-2: Sporting Blood 1973) by Robert Miall (Jonathan Burke). [PN/JB]
see also: Seiun Award.
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