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Breakthrough, The (BBC-2 1975, Simon Ward, Clive Swift)

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Accident (BBC-2 1979-1980, Michael Byrne, Anthony Head)

Paranormal tinged drama The Breakthrough (which was based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier) followed computer engineering specialist Sanders who is seconded to a remote research institute called Saxmere out in the middle of nowhere supposedly to work on a computer the team there are having problems with. It quickly becomes apparent that something odd is going on with the scientists, led by Maclean, attempting to try to take the life-force of a person at the very moment of their death in order to utilise the energy. Sanders learns that one of the team, Ken, is actually a guinea pig. He is dying of leukemia and he is their first subject.

Sanders contemplates leaving the team but ends up caught up in what they are trying to do, as the day of Ken’s death looms closer events begin to spiral out of control.

A very strong central concept makes this little seen gem a very watchable slice of British telefantasy. It was actually one of two try outs (along with Mrs Acland’s Ghosts which aired the following week) for the following years anthology The Mind Beyond.

production details
UK / BBC / 1×70 minute episode / Broadcast 8 January 1975

Writer: Clive Exton / Story: Daphne Du Maurier / Computer Advisor: Dr Simon Lavington / Costumes: Judy Allen / Production Design: Tony Abbott / Producer: Irene Shubik / Director: Graham Evans

Series: Playhouse Season Two Episode One

 

cast
SIMON WARD as Saunders
BREWSTER MASON as Maclean
CLIVE SWIFT as Robbie
ANTHONY NICHOLLS as Sir John Fowler
MARTIN C. THURLEY as Ken
ROY BOYD as Jason
MARYANN TURNER as Mrs Jason
ROSALIND McCABE as Niki
JOHN WESTBROOK as Voice of Charon One
SAXON as Cerberus

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