1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
26 x 60 minute episodes
The year is 1980 (the future!). Aliens in spinning, pyramid-shaped UFOs are raiding the Earth for human body parts to maintain their sterile race.
Trying to stop them is SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation), a secret international outfit with a base under the Harlington-Straker TV studios in London
The boss of SHADO is divorced ex-USAF pilot Ed Straker (pictured below) – played by Ed Bishop, who also supplied the voice of Captain Blue in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. His chief aides are Colonel Alec Freeman (George Sewell) and Colonel Paul Foster (Michael Billington).
In order to combat the UFOs, SHADO has an impressive line-up of vehicles and hardware, both down here on Earth and located on the surface of the moon.
A satellite early warning system called SID (Space Intruder Detector) initially identified and tracked the UFOs, launching three Interceptor spacecraft fitted with nuclear warheads from Moonbase.
If the UFOs entered the Earth’s atmosphere, the submarine Skydiver could launch the interceptor aircraft Sky One, while tank-like SHADOmobiles could pursue any UFOs which managed to land.
The rarely seen alien pilots of the UFOs wear helmets filled with green washing-up liquid.
UFO was Gerry Anderson’s first TV series using real people instead of puppets and the first explicitly aimed at adults.
It debuted in a prime viewing slot at 7.00 pm on Friday 2 October 1970, but unfortunately, the TV stations did not like it and began playing it in “sleeper” spots late at night (they even withheld the episode ‘The Long Sleep’ because of an LSD sequence).
Season Two of UFO was eventually cancelled to make way for Space: 1999. In retrospect, this was extremely unfortunate as UFO was superior space drama with tension and excitement a-plenty.
The scriptwriting was imaginative, thought-provoking and entertaining. At times the acting was on a par with the marionettes of Anderson’s previous series, although Space: 1999 would prove worse.
There were some interesting cast members, including Peter Gordeno (better known as a TV dancer) and Ayshea Brough (host of the TV pop programme Lift off with Ayshea). Actor/writer Steven Berkoff even turned up in one episode.
The Harlington-Straker admin block is, in fact, Neptune House, part of the BBC Elstree complex (formerly ATV Elstree) confusingly NOT located in Elstree but in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. These days the building is better known as the home of Holby City Hospital.
Commander Ed Straker
Colonel Alec Freeman
Colonel Paul Foster
Captain Peter Carlin
Lieutenant Joan Harrington
Lieutenant Gay Ellis
Colonel Virginia Lake
Lieutenant Nina Barry
SHADO Moonbase operative
Lieutenant Mark Bradley
Voice of SID
Captain Lew Waterman
SHADO radio operator
Identified | Exposed | The Cat with Ten Lives | Conflict | A Question of Priorities | ESP | Kill Straker! | Sub Smash | Destruction | The Square Triangle | Close Up | The Psychobombs | Survival | Mindbender | Flight Path | The Man who Came Back | The Dalotek Affair | Timelash | Ordeal | Court Martial | Computer Affair | Confetti Check A-OK | The Sound of Silence | Reflections in the Water | The Responsibility Seat | The Long Sleep