TV UK TV

A For Andromeda (BBC 1961, Peter Halliday, Julie Christie)

A For Andromeda

Scifi drama serial A For Andromeda was set in 1970 in the Yorkshire Dales when a group of scientists receive radio signals from space. Once decoded these give them the ability to build a super computer. The computer demonstrates it’s power by creating a girl called Andromeda, one of the scientists decides the computer must be destroyed.

A For Andromeda (1961-62), is a half-forgotten gem from the BBC. This groundbreaking seven part science fiction serial would have become an all time classic and popular video series had the BBC not committed a criminal act of folly and wiped the tapes.

In the early sixties the BBC made a habit of wiping tapes in order to record over them, and in doing so did not consider the possibility that some of the shows they were wiping might have become classics that could have been enjoyed by future generations.

Surprisingly, even in the early sixties there were some viewers who had audio-visual recording equipment and some parts of episodes do exist and are occasionally seen at science fiction or television conventions however when shown these clips usually leave audiences cold because they are shown out of context.

A For Andromeda was a serial that had to be followed to be fully appreciated.

The serial was co-written by acclaimed astronomer Fred Hoyle and veteran writer John Elliot. Hoyle’s scientific knowledge and Elliot’s writing skills combined beautifully to produce a character driven science fiction story that was both believable and exciting. The tragedy of the BBC’s wiping of the tapes is magnified by the fact that ‘A For Andromeda’ was ahead of it’s time and it’s theme of the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence and its possible consequences is highly topical today. There is no doubt that had the BBC not have wiped the tapes ‘A For Andromeda’ would today be a much repeated and talked about science fiction serial.

In 1962 a 6x45m-e sequel appeared called The Andromeda Breakthrough which saw scientist John Fleming forced on the run with Andromeda and having to join forces with Madeleine Dawney when a toxic enzyme threatens to destroy the Earth. In the sequel Susan Hampshire played the role of Andromeda.- by Graham Howard and Memorable Television.

On 27 March 2006 the BBC revived the series with a 90 minute one off production for BBC-4.

production details
UK / BBC / 7×45 minute episodes / Broadcast 3 October – 14 November 1961

Writer: Fred Hoyle, John Eliot / Design: Norman James / Producers: Michael Hayes, Norman Jones

cast
PETER HALLIDAY as John Fleming
ESMOND KNIGHT as Prof Reinhart
MARY MORRIS as Madeleine Dawnay
GEOFFREY LEWIS as Dr Geers
JULIE CHRISTIE as Christine/Andromeda
FRANK WINDSOR as Dennis Bridger
PETER DUCROW as Dr Hunter
PATRICIA KNEALE as Judy Adamson