Introduction 1930s-1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

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1937 1938 1939 1946 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

1937

20th December 1937
The Ghost Train (BBC)
Truncated version of popular stage play (written by a pre-Dad’s Army Arnold Ridley) about a fake haunting at railway station. Curiously, the only TV adaptation of this often-filmed story.

25th December 1937
Theatre Parade: 'Alice in Wonderland' (BBC)
Selected scenes from a current West End production of the Lewis Carroll classic.
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1938

7th January 1938
The Monkey’s Paw (BBC)
Adaptation of classic short horror story by WW Jacobs.
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11th February 1938
RUR (BBC)
Truncated version of Karel Capek’s 1921 expressionist play which gave the world the word ‘robot’.
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1st May 1938
Tobias and the Angel (BBC)
James Bridie's play, written in 1930, in which a man, his dog and another man (who is secretly the Archangel Raphael) encounter trials and tribulations on a long journey.
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25th December 1938
Moonshine (BBC)
Fantasy play adapted from a fairy tale written by Laurence Housman.

1939

13th May 1939
The Insect Play (BBC)
A tramp finds himself living amongst invertebrates in Karel Capek's allegorical play.
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1946

21st December 1946
Alice: Some of Her Adventures in Wonderland (BBC)
Another selection of scenes from Lewis Carroll’s book.
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1948

4th March 1948
RUR (BBC)
Second (and so far final) TV adaptation of the Capek play. A second (live) performance was broadcast the following day.
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25th December 1948
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (BBC)
Ambitious adaptation of both books.
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???? 1948
Dr Angelus (BBC)
George Cole and Alastair Sim in James Bridie's play with supernatural elements.

???? 1948
Jenny Villiers (BBC)
Borderline fantasy play by JB Priestley.

1949

25th January 1949
The Time Machine (BBC)
Adaptation of the HG Wells novel, using back projection to represent time travel. A second (live) performance was broadcast on 21st February.

25th December 1949
Miranda (BBC)
Adaptation of Peter Blackmore’s play about a fisherman who catches a mermaid.

1950

25th December 1950
A Christmas Carol (BBC)
Full-length adaptation of the Dickensian staple.
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1951

20th October 1951
Stranger from Space series 1 (BBC, x11)
Children's serial about a boy who befriends a Martian whose spaceship has crashed. Shown as part of
Whirligig.
series 2

1952

3rd February 1952
The Wonderful Visit (BBC)
Kenneth Williams as an angel bemused by English village life in Wells-ian satire.

17th August 1952
Mystery Story (BBC)
Fantasy play written by Nigel Kneale.

11th October 1952
Stranger from Space series 2 (BBC, x6)
More adventures for the boy and the Martian.
series 1

21st October 1952
The Dybbuk (BBC)
Fantasy play derived from Jewish folklore, directed by Rudolph Cartier.

25th December 1952
One-Way Genie (BBC)
Christmas fantasy play for children, with Arthur Lowe.

1953

1st February 1953
Number Three (BBC)
Nigel Kneale-scripted play about scientists whose research into cheaper electricity leads them to accidentally develop a new super-weapon.

10th February 1953
Worzel Gummidge Turns Detective (BBC, x4)
First TV outing for Barbara Euphan Todd's rascally scarecrow, played by Frank Atkinson. The character first appeared on radio in 1935.
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18th July 1953
The Quatermass Experiment (BBC, x6)
Seminal SF serial about the lone survivor of the first manned mission into space. Hammer Films brought it to the big screen in 1956 (as
The Quatermass Xperiment).
Quatermass 2

23rd July 1953
Vice Versa (BBC, x2)
Victorian father and son swap bodies in first adaptation of classic comic novel.
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24th November 1953
The Rose and the Ring (BBC, x3)
Thackeray's classic fairy tale.

25th November 1953
Time Slip (BBC)
Half-hour play about a man who finds himself 4.7 seconds in the future.

1954

16th January 1954
The Lost Planet (BBC, x6)
Children's serial about mission to an alien world, adapted from a 1952 radio production.
Return to the Lost Planet

17th February 1954
The Bespoke Overcoat (BBC)
Alfie Bass and David Kossoff in adaptation of ghost story by Nikolai Gogol.

10th May 1954
The Monkey’s Paw (BBC)
Another adaptation of the WW Jacobs story.
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14th October 1954
Two Ghost Stories by MR James (BBC)
Readings (with some visual effects) of 'Canon Alberic's Scrapbook' and 'The Mezzotint'.

12th December 1954
Nineteen Eighty-Four (BBC)
Controversial Orwellian adaptation bringing together the dream team of Kneale, Cartier, Cushing and Pleasence. Broadcast live, with a second live performance four days later. A feature film version followed in 1956.
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1955

8th January 1955
Return to the Lost Planet (BBC, x6)
Spaceship crew rescue their captain from an alien planet in this second radio-to-TV adaptation.
The Lost Planet

16th January 1955
The Voices (BBC)
In 2021, the members of the World Government must set aside their differences to defeat an alien threat. Broadcast live, with a second live performance four days later.

30th January 1955
The Creature (BBC)
Peter Cushing and Stanley Baker search for the Yeti in Kneale-scripted, Cartier-directed play. Filmed by Hammer in 1957 as
The Abominable Snowman. Broadcast live, with a second live performance four days later.

22nd October 1955
Quatermass II (BBC, x6)
Professor Q discovers an alien plot to take over Earth in this second serial. A big screen version followed in 1957.
The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass and the Pit

3rd December 1955
The Last Reunion (ITV)
TV Playhouse production about a WW2 bomber crew with a supernatural twist.
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21st December 1955
The Merry Christmas (ITV)
Musical version of
A Christmas Carol.
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1956

8th January 1956
Space School (BBC, x4)
Children's serial about three young siblings living on a space station while their father explores Mars.

29th February 1956
Colonel March of Scotland Yard: 'The Sorcerer' (ITV)
Debut episode for Boris Karloff's sleuth involves black magic.
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8th March 1956
Colonel March of Scotland Yard: 'The Abominable Snowman' (ITV)
Karloff investigates death by Yeti.
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15th March 1956
Colonel March of Scotland Yard: 'Present Tense' (ITV)
Karloff is called in to help a widow haunted by her late husband.
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16th April 1956
One (ITV)
1984-style drama about an individual's rebellion against the enforced uniformity of a totalitarian future state, starring Donald Pleasence.

26th April 1956
The Burning Glass (ITV)
Television Playhouse adaptation of 1953 stage play about the moral dilemma of a scientist who discovers a massively powerful new weapon.
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16th May 1956
Colonel March of Scotland Yard: 'The Talking Head' (ITV)
Another supernatural case for Karloff's sleuth as a young man receives messages from a marble bust of his late father.
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21st August 1956
Colonel March of Scotland Yard: 'The Case of the Lively Ghost' (ITV)
Karloff investigates a fake medium who seems to have genuine powers.
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14th September 1956
Days of Grace (BBC)
One-off Scottish ghost story.

15th September 1956
The Strange World of Planet X (ITV, x7)
Critically lambasted story of two scientists who discover a formula which gives them mastery over time and space. Or something. Remade as a feature film the following year.

15th December 1956
The Trollenberg Terror (ITV, x6)
Alien invasion Sunday Serial set in the Swiss Alps. Remade as a feature film in 1958.

1957

17th March 1957
A Cask of Amontillado (ITV)
Poe adaptation in
Armchair Theatre slot.

15th June 1957
Hour of Mystery (ITV, x9)
Anthology drama series hosted by Donald Wolfit, including some fantasy episodes.

11th November 1957
Man in a Moon (ITV)
Armchair Theatre play about a small country which chooses a convicted murderer as its first astronaut because it does not have the technology to bring him back.

5th December 1957
The Critical Point (BBC)
One-off drama about a murder who volunteers to take part in a cryogenic experiment.
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1958

10th March 1958
Doomsday for Dyson (ITV)
JB Priestley anti-war fantasy about a man standing trial in the afterlife for killing his family in the wake of a nuclear holocaust. Followed by a short studio discussion on the topics raised in the play.

18th March 1958
Time is the Enemy (ITV, x7)
Time-travelling fantasy serial for children.

4th April 1958
2000 Minus 60 (ITV)
Television Playhouse production, set in real time, about a rogue rocket set to crash into London at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999.

14th September 1958
HG Wells' The Invisible Man series 1 (ITV, x13)
Scientist accidentally becomes invisible and finds himself pursued by, then later working for, the state. Almost no connection with HG Wells!
series 2

12th October 1958
I Can Destroy the Sun (ITV)
Jimmy Sangster-scripted
Armchair Theatre in which a scientist threatens solar destruction in an attempt to avert the arms race.

15th October 1958
White Hunter: 'Voodoo Wedding' (ITV)
Episode of Africa-set adventure series in which a young woman's marriage invokes a voodoo curse.

2nd November 1958
The Witching Hour (ITV)
Obscure
Armchair Theatre play which is presumed to be fantasy.

9th November 1958
The Greatest Man in the World
Armchair Theatre play starring Patrick McGoohan as the world’s first astronaut, adapted from a story by James Thurber.

28th November 1958
Underground (ITV)
Armchair Theatre production about survivors of a nuclear holocaust trapped in the London Underground. Allegedly an actor died (off-camera) midway through this live broadcast.

22nd December 1958
Quatermass and the Pit (BBC, x6)
Third outing for Professor Q as he deals with an ancient Martian spaceship which offers clues to the origins of humanity. Filmed by Hammer in 1967.
Quatermass 2, Quatermass

1959

20th February 1959
Before the Sun Goes Down (ITV)
Two people meet and fall in love after London is evacuated because of a threat from a foreign satellite. Allegedly the fake newsflash at the start of the play caused confusion and complaints.

10th March 1959
The Truth About Pycraft (BBC)
Adaptation of HG Wells story about a man who finds he can levitate.

12th April 1959
HG Wells' The Invisible Man series 2 (ITV, x13)
More adventures of the see-through scientist.
series 1

14th April 1959
The Offshore Island (BBC)
One-off drama about a family whose farm remains unaffected, eight years after a nuclear war.

15th May 1959
Bellweather Nine (ITV)
Comedy about a scientist fooling people into thinking he has launched himself into space.

12th December 1959
The Voodoo Factor (ITV, x6)
Sunday Serial about a scientist trying to avert a global plague possibly caused by a malevolent Polynesian deity.

Introduction 1930s-1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

MJSimpson.co.uk main site Contact MJ Simpson