Wednesday, 3 June 2015
First watched : Uncertain
U.F.O. was Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's first fully live action drama series. It concerned an organisation called SHADO operating from a base disguised as a film studio ( Pinewood of course ) and a watching outpost on the moon in the 1980s. Its purpose was to protect earth from alien attack. The aliens themselves had no physical form and advanced their aims from abducting and /or controlling human hosts. All this sounds very Captain Scarlet and similar cost considerations affected the series.
However having human actors rather than marionettes did allow for more interesting human drama to compensate for the limited special effects. Ed Bishop played the scowling commander Straker while Gabrielle Drake provided some eye candy in a purple wig and skin tight costumes. The series had a dark adult tone ; the day would often be saved with grave consequences for some of those involved . Because of this there was some confusion over when to schedule it; different ITV companies either put it in the 17.20 pm older children's slot or the weekend morning slot often allocated to other Anderson series.
26 episodes were made between 1970 and 1971. A second series was planned and pre-production work well advanced when disappointing viewing figures in America caused its cancellation. Many of the ideas for the new series were recycled and used in the subsequent Space 1999.