A For Andromeda
1961, BBC
This seven-parter by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot transformed Julie Christie from an unknown drama student into a star. Scientists receive radio signals from the Andromeda galaxy, giving instructions for building a computer. Once on-line, the computer creates a perfect human replica, Andromeda (Christie). The machines design new innovations for the British Government, but the leading scientist John Fleming believes the computer is intent on world domination. Thanks to archive junkings in the 60s, all that survives of A for Andromeda are the titles and a film insert from part 1, and 3 reels of 16mm telerecordings from the final episode. This title sequence featured in Channel Four's 1001 Nights (1991), in a sequence examining wiped dramas.

A For Andromeda
1961, BBC
From part seven, Andromeda and Fleming (Peter Halliday) discuss the destruction of the computer. Christie is bewitching, but the noisy live studio environment distracts her somewhat...

Click for larger image Ace of Wands
1970 - 1972, ITV/Thames © Fremantle Media
Click for larger image A children's series starring Michael Mackenzie as Tarot, a magical entertainer and escapologist who solved mysteries and crimes with his special powers. Devised by writer Trevor Preston with Pamela Lonsdale (the producer who created Rainbow) it ran to three series; the first two guest-starred Tony Selby and Judy Loe, while the third featured Petra Markham and Roy Holder. One of the villains, the diabolical Mr Stabs, appeared in the spin off series Shadows (1975), and also in an episode of Dramarama (1984), played by Russell Hunter and David Jason respectively. These titles are from 1972.

Adam Adamant Lives
1966 - 1967, BBC
In producer Verity Lambert's next venture after Doctor Who, Gerald Harper starred as the Edwardian gentleman adventurer let loose in Swinging Sixties London. In 1902 he was trapped in a block of ice by his arch enemy, The Face, and defrosted 64 years later by workmen demolishing the villain's house. The charm of this series derives from Adamant's disorientation in a society more permissive than his own, and his Edwardian approach to solving crimes. 29 episodes were made, in two series; episode one, A Vintage Year For Scoundrels, was repeated on BBC2's One Day In The Sixties in 1991.

The Avengers
1961 - 1969, ITV/ABC © Canal+ Image International
Produced by John Bryce, Julian Wintle, Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens, this quirky and sophisticated series rose from the ashes of an ABC drama called Police Surgeon, which had starred Ian Hendry as Dr Brent. At the start of The Avengers, Hendry's character Dr David Keel sets out to avenge the death of his fiancée at the hands of a drug gang. John Steed (Patrick MacNee) appears on the scene to help him, and they team up against crime. But Hendry had no wish to be typecast in TV and dropped out. For series two, Steed became the principle character, assisted by Julie Stevens, Jon Rollason and Honor Blackman, with Blackman as Cathy Gale becoming his prinicipal sidekick from series three. This clip is from a 1961 episode, with Hendry & MacNee featured in the titles.

The Avengers
1961 - 1969, ITV/ABC © Canal+ Image International
These titles are from 1963, by which time Macnee's Steed was accompanied solely by Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. Over the years, Steed's character was developed into the epitome of the English gentleman, dressed in Pierre Cardin and assisted in his investigations by a succession of independently-minded and beautiful associates, two of whom were heavily into karate. Following Cathy Gale were Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) and finally Tara King (Linda Thorson).

Click for larger image The Avengers
1961 - 1969, ITV/ABC © Canal+ Image International
Click for larger image When the series launched, it could only be seen by viewers in the North-West. Studio bound and live, many episodes were never telerecorded, so they do not survive to this day. But by the time the series came to the whole ITV network, this situation had been rectified, with episodes taped as-live a few days ahead of transmission. As of Diana Rigg's introduction, series four in 1965, it had switched wholly to film production, which gave the series very slick production values - see left-hand clip. Series five was the first to be made in colour, featuring arguably the most famous title sequence of them all (right-hand clip) as Macnee and Rigg clink champagne glasses.

The Avengers
1961 - 1969, ITV/ABC © Canal+ Image International
In all, there were seven series and 161 made, the last 57 in colour. The original jazz-style theme was composed by Johnny Dankworth, but the more familiar theme tune is the work of Laurie Johnson. Personally I prefer this theme tune, as heard on Diana Rigg's episodes. When Linda Thorson joined in 1969, it was re-recorded in a more frivolous and twiddly arrangement - but then, those episodes ARE frivolous and twiddly! (See also The New Avengers, on page L-Z)

Click for larger image Blake's Seven
1978 - 1981, BBC
Created by Terry Nation, produced by David Maloney & Vere Lorrimer, this "space opera" was created to fill the 50-minute slot once occupied by police drama Softly Softly. Allotted the same budget as that earthbound copshow, the team struggled valiantly to create believable sci-fi drama out of the bargain basement. On occasions they were unsuccessful in their plight, but usually viewers were compensated with strong characters, meaty scripts and intriguing casting. In all, there were four series, each one comprising thirteen episodes. Three title sequences were used. The theme was composed by Dudley Simpson, as was the incidental music for almost every episode. These are the titles used during series one and two, which starred Gareth Thomas as freedom fighter Roj Blake.

Click for larger image Blake's Seven
1978 - 1981, BBC
Click for larger image In the far future on Earth, rebel leader Roj Blake is framed and deported to a prison planet. En route, he persuades fellow inmates Avon (Paul Darrow), Jenna (Sally Knyvette) and Vila (Michael Keating) to rebel. They commandeer an abandoned alien ship, the Liberator and rescue Gan (David Jackson) and Cally (Jan Chappell) from the colony. The Liberator's computer Zen (voiced by Peter Tuddenham) completes the original "seven" line-up. Super-computer Orac, also voiced by Tuddenham, was added at the end of series one. They were united in their fight against the tyrannical Federation, presided over by Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce). The clip shows the series three title sequence.

Click for larger image Blake's Seven
1978 - 1981, BBC
Click for larger image Thomas and Knyvette left at the end of series two, replaced by Tarrant (Steven Pacey) and Dayna (Josette Simon). The Liberator was destroyed at the end of series three, and Cally died on the planet Terminal. For series four, a new ship was introduced - Scorpio - along with a new computer, Slave, plus new team member Soolin (Glynis Barber). Thomas returned as Blake in the final episode, tx 21/12/1981, in which the entire cast was massacred in the closing scene. The credits rolled before we saw Avon's demise... did he survive?! The title music for series four was given a jazzy re-arrangement by Dudley Simpson.

Click for larger image Blake's Seven
1978, BBC - Blooper
This amusing moment from Seek Locate Destroy (series 1) appears on the 1978 BBC Christmas tape, and was also transmitted on the BBC2 yuletide celebration, I'm Dreaming of a TV Christmas (24/12/2003).
Stephen Greif (Travis) and Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan) are listening to a report from an inept Federation guard with mounting anger, and are about to deal with the idiot concerned when a prop malfunctions in the most spectacular manner!

Blake's Seven
1981, BBC - Continuity
A bonus clip. Following the episode shown on 29th June 1981, which we believe to be Sarcophagus (possibly a repeat) the announcer plugs this BBC LP and cassette, BBC Space Themes. It includes the Blake's Seven theme. My dad bought this LP for me when I was 10 and I didn't care for it properly. Fortunately, I have now acquired a pristine copy!

The Changes
1975, BBC
A ten-part children's drama series, adapted by Anna Home from the novel by Peter Dickinson. First shown in January 1975, it was among the first BBC dramas to show how our society would break down following a mass trauma, when people find themselves compelled to reject and destroy technology. This activity was supposedly provoked by sound waves coming from electricity pylons. Schoolgirl Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams) is separated from her parents in the chaos and the series follows her attempts to find them.

Click for larger image Children of the Stones
1976, ITV/HTV West
Click for larger image A very spooky children's drama series, reminiscent of both Village of the Damned and The Wicker Man, starring Gareth Thomas, Iain Cuthbertson and Freddie Jones. Filmed at Avebury in Wiltshire, it is set in a prehistoric stone circle and the village built within it. Newcomers are obliged to enjoy the enforced bonhomie of village life, but it becomes clear that the residents are in the power of an alien intelligence channelled through the Manor House, and no-one can leave the circle. The script is riveting, the climax is excellent, and the teenage stars act with great conviction.

Click for larger image The Day of the Triffids
1981, BBC
Click for larger image No introduction needed for this literary classic by John Wyndham, brought vividly to life by Douglas Livingstone's adaptation. John Duttine stars, and the BBC Visual Effects team excels, with monsters that knock into a cocked hat the Triffids in the Janette Scott/Howard Keel movie. On a recent viewing, I felt the series has dated, but it remains effective and Christopher Gunning's theme tune is easily one of the most unnerving you'll ever hear, thanks to the choral element.

Dead of Night
1972 - 1973, BBC
Dead of Night was a series of spooky single plays. Some were excellent, others were dodgy. Sadly we'll never be able to judge them all, because only three of them have survived. Return Flight, starring Peter Barkworth as a jet pilot who crashes his plane during a hallucination, is predictable. The Exorcism, which features Clive Swift and Edward Petherbridge, is frightening but annoyingly political. I haven't had a chance to see A Woman Sobbing just yet. The series title sequence always unnerves me. Someone or something, with severe breathing difficulties, races through a forest at night, surrounded by eery screeching sounds. All we see are the trees as they rush by, stained blood red... Very Dario Argento.

1970 - 1972, BBC
A prophetic series devised by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, warning of the dangers of careless scientific research. Doomwatch is the codename for an independent scientific watchdog, set up to keep an eye on the meddling scientists who dabble with genetic mutations, chemical warfare and plastic-eating acids. John Paul starred as the Doomwatch head, Dr Spencer Quist, backed up by Simon Oates and Robert Powell, with John Barron as a government minister resentful of Doomwatch's dangerous independence. His performance is CJ in prototype. A total of 38 episodes were made, across three series.

Dramarama: Stabs
1984, ITV/Thames © Fremantle Media
A spooky moment for Children's ITV viewers, just settled in front of their familiar Dramarama anthology, only for the logo to be ripped away from the screen by a menacing creature... Mr Stabs was back! The snake-like character was created by Trevor Preston for his Ace of Wands series some fourteen years earlier (see above), and had also turned up in an episode of the spooky Thames anothology Shadows in 1975. For his final TV appearance to date, David Jason essays the character, with David Rappaport taking on the role of his accomplice, Luko. Yes, that is Grotbags the Witch at the top of the clip!

The Georgian House
1976, ITV/HTV West
A children's series about class and social status, with a similar time travel theme to "The Amazing Mr Blunden." Dan (Spencer Banks) and Abbie (Adrienne Byrne) discover an African wood carving while unpacking exhibits for an exhibition in a restored Georgian house. The exhibit sends them back in time 200 years to save a black servant boy, about to be returned to the plantations. The titles consist of simple captions played out over dynamic ethnic percussion sounds.

The Guardians
1971, ITV/LWT
A political thriller set in the near future, imagining Britain run as a brutal police state after social and economic collapse. The paramilitary police, known as The Guardians, are opposed by a bunch of freedom fighters. All ITV regions bar Northern Ireland saw this series of 13 episodes, which starred John Collin, Gwyneth "Mrs McCluskey" Powell, Cyril Luckham, Edward Petherbridge and David Burke. (tx 10/07/71 - 02/10/71)

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
1981, BBC
This six-parter was first shown in 1981, based on Douglas Adams' original radio series and book. Hitch Hiker is brilliant. It is funny. It is poignant. It has lots to say about the human condition and even more about small furry green creatures from Alpha Centauri. Until Hitch Hiker's first incarnation on BBC radio in 1978, Peter Jones was probably best known as the star of The Rag Trade. Thereafter, the great man was fondly known as The Voice of the Book. He's joined in Alan Bell's TV production by Simon Jones, David Dixon, Mark Wing Davey, Sandra Dickinson and Stephen Moore, with cameos by the likes of Richard Vernon (as Slartibartfast), Jack May, Dave Prowse and Peter Davison as a talking cow. The series uses state-of-the-art 1981 technology, from the brilliant single-frame film animation that brings the book so vividly to life, to the dodgy second head of Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Click for larger image That's TV Entertainment
01/11/1986, BBC
Click for larger image The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy was given a tribute during BBC TV's 50th Anniversary celebrations in November 1986. In the Breakfast Time studio, comedy DJ Kenny Everett explained why he loved the series so much, before playing a clip of Peter Davison as a cow.

The Incredible Robert Baldick
1972, BBC
The pilot for a series that never took off, this drama by Terry Nation is entitled Never Come Night, an intriguing vehicle for Robert Hardy. He plays a gentleman scientist and philanthropist called upon to solve a series of murders in the cellar of an abbey ruin, to which he travels in his own private train-cum-laboratory. Nigel Kneale's genre work is heavily echoed within the plot, which mingles supernatural elements with science. The supporting cast is excellent, particularly James Cossins as the Vicar, for once given the chance to excel in a role far removed from the creeps and autocrats who made up the bulk of his characters. There are distinguished turns, too, from John Rhys Davies, Julian Holloway and Reginald Marsh.

Click for larger image King of the Castle
1977, ITV/HTV West
Click for larger image Teenager Roland (Philip da Costa) is bemused to discover that a startling parallel universe exists underneath the block of council flats into which his family has recently moved. The lift crashes down into it, and he finds himself face to face with alternate versions of the people he knew back in reality, in bizarre situations which give him the confidence to overcome his problems at home. Fulton Mackay, Milton Johns and Talfryn Thomas are the stars of this 7-parter (8/5/1977 - 19/6/1977), of which the masters survive at the British Film Institute for all but episode 3.

Knights of God
1987, ITV/TVS
The titles give a good clue as to the premise: Britain in the near-future, following a civil war and the execution of the Royal Family, in which vicious jackbooted guards, helicopters flying over burning Union flags and a tyrannical order of knights headed by John Woodvine are the new order. Will the resistance groups succeed? Heady stuff for Sunday teatime! Gareth Thomas and Patrick Troughton also star. (6/9/1987 - 6/12/1987)