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Timeslip [tv]

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

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UK tv series (1970-1971). Associated Television (ATV). Created by James Boswell and Ruth Boswell. Produced by John Cooper. Directed primarily by Peter Jefferies, with John Cooper, David Foster and Ron Francis. Written by James Boswell, Ruth Boswell, Victor Pemberton and Bruce Stewart (19 episodes). Cast included Spencer Banks, Derek Benfield, Cheryl Burfield, Iain Fairbairn, Mary Preston, Denis Quilley and Iris Russell. 26 30-minute episodes. Colour and black and white.

Competently cast and modestly shot for its Young Adult audience, Timeslip managed over one season to embed four strong stories into its overall arc. Two adolescents, Liz Skinner (Burfield) and Simon Randall (Banks) discover a temporal anomaly or time gate that gives them access to various parts of the twentieth century. In "The Wrong End of Time" they return to a secret base in 1943, where they help Liz's father, then a young man, destroy a secret Weapon just before the Nazis can capture it. The ominous Commander Charles Traynor (Quilley), who also travels through time, seems pleased that they have followed his orders. In "The Time of the Ice Box" they find themselves in the Near Future, at another secret establishment where ominous experiments are taking place, this time in artificial longevity under the direction of a mad Clone of a dead man named Devereaux in the Arctic; again, faced by the dubious virtues of scientific achievements, they are relieved when the formula is destroyed. On their return to 1970 in "The Year of the Burn Up", Traynor tries to prevent them from using the anomaly, but they escape into an Alternate World version of 1990 Britain, now a Dystopia trapped suffering a great heat wave. Traynor arrives, sabotages the Computer so that its main function – to maintain Weather Control – is terminated, leading to something like the End of the World. But the two protagonists have escaped, this time to the mid 1960s, where they find that Traynor, who has been frustrating their efforts to prevent the wrong future from happening, is himself a Clone. Back in 1970, they rescue the real Traynor, who disposes of the fake Traynor, and the future is saved.

Slightly garbled and rendered in broad cartoonish strokes, Timeslip does all the same manage to create something of a coherent over-story, and the interplay through time of the two protagonists and their parents is at times moving. Budgetary constraints, and a seemingly unstoppable impulse on the part of the show's authors to over-complicate the ongoing story, do suggest reasons for Timeslip's short duration. It is clear from the last episode that, though the overall story had been completed, a second series could have lifted itself from the ashes. But this was not to be. A novelization, Timeslip (1970) as by Bruce Stewart, was written primarily by James Boswell. [JC]


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