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A for Andromeda

Entry updated 28 December 2017. Tagged: TV.

UK tv serial (1961). A BBC TV production. Produced by Michael Hayes, Norman Jones, written John Elliot from a storyline by Fred Hoyle. Cast includes Julie Christie, Peter Halliday, Esmond Knight, Mary Morris, Patricia Neale, John Nettleton and Frank Windsor. Seven episodes, the first six at 45 minutes, the last 50 minutes. Black and white.

In the then Near Future of 1970, a radio signal transmitted from the Andromeda Galaxy proves, when decoded by maverick Scientist Fleming (Halliday), to contain instructions for the building of a supercomputer. Once constructed by Earth scientists, the Computer in turn provides instructions on how to create a living being. The first attempt is a protoplasmic Monster called Cyclops for its single giant eye. Fleming's beautiful young assistant Christine (Christie), under the compulsion of Hypnosis by Cyclops and/or the sinister computer, grasps the electrodes mysteriously built into the machine's design and is killed – electrocuted. The computer now outputs fresh instructions for constructing a human embryo, which rapidly attains maturity as a seeming Clone of Christine and is naturally enough named Andromeda (again Christie). Andromeda is mentally linked to and controlled by the ever-more-powerful computer, whose agenda is clearly not in the best interests of humanity. There is much controversy within the government, which – tempted by offers of Weapon systems and biological miracles – decides to exploit the computer/Andromeda symbiosis to the maximum despite all Fleming's doubts. The UK military takes over the project. Andromeda attempts to kill Fleming but fails. He wrecks the computer and, free of its influence, she destroys the only copies of the original message. Soldiers chase the pair to an offshore Island, where Andromeda is hurt and seemingly drowned while Fleming is captured.

The story is intelligently presented despite its occasional absurdities. The serial brought Julie Christie into the public eye for the first time. The novelization by Hoyle and Elliot is A for Andromeda (1962). The television sequel was The Andromeda Breakthrough (1962). [JB/PN/DRL]

see also: SETI.


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