1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
26 x 60 minute episodes
The year is 1980 (The future!). The place is Earth. Aliens in spinning, pyramid-shaped UFO’s are raiding the planet 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 left) – played by Ed Bishop who 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.
In order to combat the UFO’s, SHADO has an impressive line-up of vehicles and hardware. A satellite early warning system called SID (Space Intruder Detector), a submarine/aircraft called Skydiver and tank-like SHADOmobiles to pursue any UFO’s which land on Earth.
The rarely seen alien pilots of the UFO’s 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 7.0 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.
A great attraction to the show were the purple-haired women of Moonbase, including the gorgeous and pneumatic Gabrielle Drake (pictured at right) who went on to play the manager of the motel in Crossroads.
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