1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 0 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
The most bizarre new sight on British television in 1958 was The Invisible Man, who wore a hat, overcoat and sunglasses whatever the weather, and whose head was entirely swathed in bandages. As a mode of fashion it never really caught on, but the series did.
The invisible man was brilliant young scientist Dr Peter Brady – “A man who can investigate crimes without being seen. A man who can go where no ordinary man could hope to enter. A man searching for the answer to his invisibility”.
Brady rendered himself invisible by accident while testing his theory of “optical density” at the Castle Hill Research Laboratory, and the government initially saw him as a security risk. Soon, though, they employed him for espionage work, which he managed to balance with his constant quest for an antidote to his predicament.
The identity of the actor actually playing the unseen hero was never revealed, although it was later confirmed that Tim Turner provided Brady’s voice while stuntman Johnny Scripps provided the body. Lisa Daniely took the part of his widowed sister Diane, and Deborah Watling played his niece, Sally.
The series was attacked at the time for being anti-Communist, and Frank Allaun MP called for it to be banned because it “created enmity towards other nations”. Yet curiously it was sold to Yugoslavia . . .
The special effects were excellent for the time (usually achieved by an elaborate system of wires) and included the sight of a wine glass raised to unseen lips, springs on chairs going down as though sat upon, and a cigarette puffing in mid-air.
By the very nature of the programme, filming was often eventful. One day, two men saw a motorbike and sidecar cruise past without a rider. They thought it had run away so one jumped into the saddle, the other wrenched the handlebars and they managed to steer the bike safely into some railings.
Their courage was not appreciated, however, by the stuntman curled up within the sidecar who was driving the vehicle at the time. He boomed, “you’ve just gone and ruined a film shot”. Exit two heroes, decidedly shame-faced.
Other television versions of the famous H G Wells story included an American version in 1975 with David McCallum (Man From U.N.C.L.E) in the title role, Gemini Man (1976) and a literalist BBC six-parter in 1984 starring Philip Donaghy.
Dr Peter Brady/Invisible Man
Tim Turner (voice)
Diane ‘Dee’ Wilson
Sir Charles Anderson
Detective Inspector Heath