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Alternative 3

Entry updated 12 July 2021. Tagged: TV.

UK tv pseudo-documentary (1977). Anglia TV. Directed by Christopher Miles; devised and written by David Ambrose. Cast includes Tim Brinton, Carol Hazell, Gregory Munroe. 56 minutes. Colour.

Presented as an ITV "Science Report" on 22 June 1977, this exercise in sf Paranoia fronted by UK news anchor Brinton was meant as an April Fool's Day hoax but was delayed by industrial action. The premise of the "exposé" is that accelerating Climate Change will shortly make Earth uninhabitable, and that NASA Space Flights to the Moon have the covert purpose of setting up a launch pad to evacuate our planet's elite to Mars (see Colonization of Other Worlds); most of humanity would be left to die. An extra sf frisson is provided by faked footage of a 1962 Mars landing, including the finding of apparent life (inexpensively simulated by the director's fingers wriggling under red sand). Though the closing credits make it clear that characters in this documentary are played by actors, and prominently give the date as 1 April 1977, many viewers were taken in. ITV and Anglia revealed the hoax an hour after transmission, but UK newspapers pretended outrage for weeks; the furore was inevitably compared to the legendary Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds (1938). Alternative 3 has never been repeated on UK television. [DRL]

see also: Capricorn One (1977); Space Documentaries.

further reading

  • Steve Marshall. "The Making of Alternative 3" (December 2007 Fortean Times #230) [mag/]


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