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Very British Futures

Very British Futures

By Gareth Preston
A critical look back at some British television's most interesting science fiction series.
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The Tripods

Very British Futures

Max Headroom - 20 Minutes into the Future
Somewhere in the world, sometime in the future where television is the only growth industry, star reporter Edison Carter is on the track of hot new story about a new kind of advertising, unskippable, unavoidable and for many people - fatal. When boy genius Bryce sets a lethal trap for him, Edison is left in a coma, but a copy of his mind is about to become something unique - the world's first computer generated lifeform - Max Headroom! Catch the wave with us back to 1985 when for a few months pop culture went M-M-M-Max mad. The TV film, the pop videos, the fizzy drinks, the legend that was Max Headroom. Joining Gareth Preston from their own personal TV studios are talking heads Amy Elizabeth and Steve Noble. Blade Runner, Ultravox, Shakespeare and early Eighties computing are all in there, along with a bonus chat about the Red Dwarf Smegazine. Music by Chatri Art ( ) Produced by Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery and at
June 15, 2021
The Uninvited
When retired photojournalist Steve Blake sees a man die in a car explosion, then meets the same man the next day apparently unscathed, it is the beginning of a terrifying journey. The thread leads Blake and a woman called Melissa Gates to the mystery of the disappearance of Sweet Hope beneath the sea, a village whose population was miraculously rescued that night by Constable Philip Gates. Or were they? After a horrific discovery underwater, Steve and Melissa realise they have uncovered a secret alien invasion. Who can they convince? Who can they trust? Including each other? Made in 1997, by Zenith Entertainment for ITV, The Uninvited was a alien conspiracy thriller firmly in the tradition of Sixties US television series The Invaders, with nods to John Wyndham. Starring Douglas Hodge, Leslie Grantham and Sylvestra Le Touzel. Join Gareth Preston, John Isles and Nicky Smalley as they go back to an era where the internet was still a strange new medium for most people, mainstream SF was a rare sight on British television screens, and ITV seemed to want every drama to be a prestige murder mystery. Music - Chatri Art ( ) Producer - Gareth Preston Follow us on Twitter at @FuturesVery and visit for more reviews and news.
June 1, 2021
Star Maidens
The rogue planet Medusa arrives in our solar system. Beneath its surface is an advanced alien civilisation where woman rule and men are slaves. Adam and Shem steal a space yacht and travel to Earth, a paradise where it is rumoured that men are in charge and women obey. Hot in pursuit are Security Chief Octavia and Councillor Fulvia, Adam's owner. A space adventure series, a satire on the battle of the sexes, a SF parody, or a seriously intended rival to Gerry Anderson's Century 21 productions? Star Maidens is a mass of contradictions wrapped in Seventies disco futurism and C&A fashion disasters. Joining host Gareth Preston to try and untangle this British/German patchwork is Dr Rebecca Wray and Kevin Hiley. Music by Chatri Ahpornsiri ( ) Production by Gareth Preston You can follow us on @FuturesVery on Twitter for photos, previews of upcoming episodes and discussion. Or take a look at for more information and reviews.
May 18, 2021
The Tripods
Earth 2089. A time of peace and contentment thanks to the benevolent rule of the Tripods, huge machine beings who "cap" teenagers to make them productive adults. Yet, Will Parker believes there is something very wrong with the world, and together with his cousin Henry, sets out on a quest to find the legendary Free Men and ultimately topple the Tripods. At its time it was the biggest SF production ever mounted by the BBC. Yet two years in it was unceremoniously cancelled, leaving its characters on a grim cliffhanger. Join Gareth, with guests Andrew Roe-Crines and Kevin Hiley as they take a deep dive into the John Christopher's celebrated SF trilogy. How does the series stand up today? In a larger picture, were the Tripods and their secret Masters really the good guys? Follow us on Twitter at @FuturesVery and visit for more news and reviews.
May 4, 2021
Knights of God
In the near-future (2020!) post civil war Britain is ruled by a military dictatorship - The Knights of God. A young man called Gervaise becomes a key player in both the resistance and the plans of the fanatical Prior Mordrin. We journey back to the Eighties to take a critical look ITV's post-apocalyptic teatime adventure series, which featured an impressive cast and budget. Why did it remind us of Harry Potter? What motivates the Knights? How do these characters get around the country so fast? Gareth Preston is joined by Kevin Hiley and Dr Rebecca Wray to consider violence, religion and why some series seem to fade into obscurity. Music by Chatri Art ( Follow us on Twitter @FuturesVery
April 20, 2021
Pathfinders in Space
At the beginning of the space age, a plucky band of scientists and children launch into adventures on the Moon, Mars and Venus. They are - Pathfinders in Space! UK television has created some of most influential, imaginative and scary science fiction in the medium's short history. Take a journey into some of the lesser known regions with Very British Futures. We begin with the ABC 1961-62 teatime drama series created by Sydney Newman, the television pioneer who would later devise Doctor Who for the BBC. What is the secret of Gerald Flood's acting? How much research did writers Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice do? Why did they deliberately put microphone booms into the frame? Where does the Lost Planet fit in? Host Gareth Preston is joined by Nigel J Anderson and Brian Clarke to celebrate this overlooked science fiction programme. Music by Chatri Art (
April 8, 2021