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The Tomorrow People is a children's science fiction television series, devised by Roger Price, which first ran between 1973 and 1979. The show was re-imagined between 1992 and 1995, this time with Roger Price as executive producer. A third incarnation, running between 2001 and 2007, saw a return to the original concept and characters, but this time produced as a series of radio plays by Nigel Fairs for Big Finish Productions. All three incarnations were cancelled mid-run.

Premise

All incarnations of the show concerned the emergence of the next stage of human evolution known colloquially as Tomorrow People. Born to human parents, an apparently normal child might at some point between childhood and late adolescence experience a process called "breaking out", when they develop their special abilities. These abilities include psychic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. However, they are physically unable to deliberately kill others.

Original series

List of Original Series episodes

The original series was produced by Thames Television for Britain'smarker ITV network. The Tomorrow People operate out of a secret laboratory, The lab, built in an abandoned London Underground station. The lab was revamped at the beginning of series 6. The team watch for new Tomorrow People "breaking out" to help them through the process and sometimes deal with attention from extraterrestrial species. They deal with the "Galactic Federation" which oversees the welfare of telepathic species throughout the galaxy. In addition to their psychic powers, they also use advanced technology such as the biological computer TIM, which is capable of original thought and can augment their psychic powers. TIM also helps the Tomorrow People to teleport long distances, although they must be wearing a device installed into a belt or bracelet for this to work. Teleportation is called jaunting in the programme, similar to the term jaunte used in the novel The Stars My Destination.

In the original series the Tomorrow People are also referred to by the term Homo superior. This term appears in David Bowie's song Oh! You Pretty Things: "Let me make it plain. You gotta make way for the Homo Superior." This term came up as part of a conversation between Roger Price and David Bowie at a meeting at Granada studios in Manchester. Price was directing a programme in which Bowie was appearing. Price had been working on a script for his Tomorrow People project and during a conversation with Bowie, the term Homo superior came up. Bowie liked the term and soon afterwards wrote it into his song, pre-dating the series itself which was eventually produced as a TV series by Thames TV in 1973. Price has sometimes been quoted as saying that that the lyrics to this song were inspired by the series, not the other way around. The term "Homo Superior" has also been used earlier, for instance by the character Magneto in the American X-Men comic book. The earliest known use of "homo superior" as a description of a superhuman was decades prior, in British author Olaf Stapledon's novel Odd John.

Alistair McGown of Screen Online cites The Mind in Chains by Dr Christopher Evans as a primary source.[50451] He also suggests a similarity between the Tomorrow People and the children's fantasy fiction of Enid Blyton.

While they reveal their existence to some, the Tomorrow People generally operate in secrecy for fear that normal people (whom they term "Saps", a pejorative abbreviation for Homo 'sapiens) will either fear or victimize them because of their special powers or try to exploit them for military purposes. In order to defend themselves they must use non-lethal weaponry such as "stun guns" or martial arts throws due to their inability to cause harm, referred to as the "prime barrier".

Even for the time, the special effects of the original show were considered sub-par and camp, largely attributable to the show's small budget. For example, the series initially suffered from the somewhat primitive yellow-screen chroma key effects of the time, although in later episodes the special effect for jaunting became very convincing (In series 1, they were enshrouded by a shower of yellow lights when they teleported; beginning in series 2, the effect was changed, so that they could just fade out, and then fade in again somewhere else). In an interview Price said that the producer of Doctor Who actually telephoned him, and asked how he managed to make people jaunt while others moved in the shot.

Look-In comic strip

A comic strip version, based on the original series, was also produced, written by Angus P. Allan and printed in TV comic Look-In that ran somewhat concurrently with the 1970s series.

New series

Price produced the revival for Tetra Films (an independent production company, mostly comprising the former children's department at Thames Television) in association with the Thames-owned American company Reeves Entertainment for Thames and Nickelodeon between 1992 and 1995 (Central in 1994 and 1995). After some pressure from executives, Price decided to start with a blank slate and so the show was almost completely different from its predecessor. The original cast, characters, and music were not used. The new series incorporated a multi-national cast to ensure that worldwide syndication sales would be easier to obtain.

The distinctive belt buckles were omitted, as the new Tomorrow People were able to teleport without them. The non-lethal stun guns and other gadgetry were also done away with. The new Tomorrow People relied more on their wits and powers to get out of trouble.

There remain some analogies, however. The Lab was replaced by a psychic spaceship in the South Pacific to which Tomorrow People are drawn when they "break out". TIM is replaced by an ostensibly mute computer that is part of the alien ship. The visual effects were improved considerably by effects artist Clive Davis along with the sets in the new series compared to the original series.

Audio revival

In 2001, Big Finish Productions launched an audio series based on the original concept, produced by Nigel Fairs. Nicholas Young and Philip Gilbert reprised their roles as John and TIM, with Helen Goldwyn and Daniel Wilson appearing as Elena and Paul, the new Tomorrow People. Some releases also feature other original cast members, such as Peter Vaughan-Clarke, Elizabeth Adare and Mike Holoway (notably Trigonometry). Trevor Littledale took over the role of TIM in the audio series from The Warlock's Dance onwards after Philip Gilbert's death.

Five series were produced of the audio series before it was cancelled, due to the discontinuation of a licensing arrangement with Fremantle Media Enterprises, in December 2007. CDs of the series were permanently withdrawn from sale on the 7th of January 2008.

Audio revival episodes

Series 1

  1. The New Gods by Rebecca Levene and Gareth Roberts
  2. The Deadliest Species by Gary Russell
  3. The Ghosts of Mendez by Austin Atkinson
  4. The Sign of Diolyx by Mike Tucker and Robert Perry (two discs)

Series 2

  1. A New Atlantis by Nigel Fairs
  2. The Power of Fear by Steve Lyons
  3. The Curse of Kaavan by Nigel Fairs
  4. Alone by Nigel Fairs

Series 3

  1. The Slarvian Menace by Mark Wright
  2. The Warlock's Dance by Cavan Scott
  3. A Living Hell by Nigel Fairs
  4. Trigonometry by Gary Russell

Series 4

  1. Saying Goodbye by Nigel Fairs
  2. The Lords of Forever by Craig Hinton
  3. Queen of Slarvos by Nigel Fairs
  4. The Plague of Dreams by Jim Mortimore (two discs)

Series 5

  1. A Broken Song by Nigel Fairs
  2. Aftermath by Joseph Lidster
  3. Spiritus Mundi by Craig Hinton
  4. Stemming the Tide by Helen Goldwyn
  5. End of Silence by Alex Crowe
  6. Rachel by Nigel Fairs

Proposed titles for Series 6

Series six was cancelled part way through the production of Saving the World, Talking to God and Tandem. These episodes will not be released through official channels.
  1. Saving the World
  2. Talking to God
  3. War of the Slarvians
  4. Tandem
  5. Godwin's Law
  6. Buartek


Documentaries

In October 2005, Fantom Films and First Time Films released the 1997 documentary about the series entitled Beyond Tomorrow. The documentary features interviews with cast members from the original series including: Nicholas Young (John), Peter Vaughan-Clarke (Stephen), Sammie Winmill (Carol), Elizabeth Adare (Liz), Dean Lawrence (Tyso), Mike Holoway (Mike) and the late Philip Gilbert.

The following year, Fantom Films released a second DVD discussing the 1990s series with writers Lee Pressman and Grant Cathro, entitled Re-inventing The Tomorrow People.

References

External links

1973 series
1992 series



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