Science Fiction Britannia

We could give BBC Four a hug. First they ran new adaptations of Quatermass and the Pit and A for Andromeda, and now they’re following those with a whole season called Science Fiction Britannia, which we now have some transmission details for.

The season includes a couple of documentary strands. The first is The Martians and Us, three hour-long episodes analysing the peculiarly gloomy, pessimistic history of British SF (we’re a miserable bunch of bastards, ain’t we?) One programme explores our fascination with evolution; another examines the British tradition of utopias and dystopias whilst the third reflects on our interest in catastrophe and the end of the world. The first part of The Martians and Us airs on Monday 13 November at 9.00pm.

The second documentary strand is a six-part series called The Cult Of… Each half-hour instalment takes a look at a different cult series – so there’ll be one called The Cult of Blake’s 7, for example. Other shows covered are Adam Adamant Lives!, Doomwatch, Survivors, The Tripods and Star Cops. The first The Cult Of… airs on Tuesday 14 November at 8.30pm.

Perhaps the season’s biggest attraction is Random Quest, an SF drama adapted by Richard Fell – the same dude who scripted BBc Four’s Quatermass and the Pit and A for Andromeda. It’s based on a short story by John Wyndham, and centres on a scientist who finds himself in a parallel world after an experiment goes wrong. If that storyline sounds a bit familiar it’s probably because the story was also adapted as Quest for Love, a 1971 film starring Joan Collins. Random Quest airs on Monday 27 November at 10.00pm.

Following it the next day (Tuesday 28 November at 9.00pm) is Timeshift: Parallel Worlds, a documentary looking at the SF tradition of… er… parallel worlds. Our very own editor Dave Bradley is one of the expert talking heads on this show, so set your video! He’s such a dish.

The final piece of original programming in the season is How to Be Sci-Fi. Airing on Sunday 3 December at 9.00pm, this one-hour one off sees legendary thespian Nicholas Craig (a comic creation of Nigel Planer) offering tips on “outer space acting”. We suspect the piss may be taken! And quite rightly…

The season also includes archive films and TV (including showings of A for Andromeda, Adam Adamant Lives! and Red Dwarf) and My Science Fiction Life, an online project that’ll run for six months after the season has finished airing on telly.