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The Boy From Space and The Changes on DVD from the BFI in August

3 August 2014

The BFI have released full details of their August DVD release of two classic BBC science fiction series, The Boy From Space and The Changes.

Never available in any video format, the classic BBC series The Boy from Space (1971/1980) is at last being released on DVD by the BFI on 25th August 2014 at the RRP of £22.99 as part of BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder, a celebration of Sci-Fi film and television. This well-remembered Look and Read series is presented with a host of extras, including the complete audio from the 1972 BBC Records LP and alternative presentations of the filmed drama sequences which allow for this thrilling adventure to be experienced in new and exciting ways.

When brother and sister Dan and Helen see a mysterious object falling from the sky one night, they set out to look for traces of a meteorite in the nearby sandpit. There, they are confronted by a strange thin man, and discover a white-haired boy called Peep-peep who speaks a bizarre alien language.

Written by Richard Carpenter (Catweazel, Adventures of Robin Hood), the series starred Sylvestra Le Touzel (Mansfield Park, Amazing Grace, Happy-Go-Lucky), Stephen Garlick (The Tomorrow People, The Dark Crystal), Colin Mayes (Scum, All Quiet on the Western Front), John Woodnutt (Z Cars, Children of the Stones, Doctor Who) and Gabriel Woolf (Emergency-Ward 10, Doctor Who).

The striking electronic music is by Paddy Kingsland of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Originally broadcast in 1971, as part of the BBC’s educational Look and Read strand, The Boy from Space was shown again in 1980 in a revised version featuring new presenters Wordy and Cosmo, as well as updates – including a new foreword and a voice-over – to the main drama.

Look and Read was a programme for primary schools, aimed at improving children's literacy skills. The programme presents fictional stories in a serial format, the first of which was broadcast in 1967 and the most recent in 2004, making it the longest running nationally broadcast programme for schools in the UK.


Special features:

  • The complete 1980 series (10 x 20 mins): all ten episodes of the BBC’s classic Look and Read series, featuring Dan, Helen and Peep-peep’s story, as well as helpful reading tips from Wordy and Cosmo

  • Feature-length presentation (70 mins): exclusive version of Dan, Helen and Peep-peep’s adventures, edited specially for this release

  • BBC Records LP – audio version (55 mins): original spoken word recordings from the 1972 vinyl release, narrated by Charles Collingwood (the voice of Brian Aldridge in Radio 4’s The Archers)

  • BBC Records LP – film version (55 mins): an exclusive presentation, combining the audio from the 1972 LP with film and video footage from the 1980 TV broadcast

  • Wordy’s Think-ups: 19 original animations from the series

  • Downloadable PDFs of the original 1971 and 1979 pupil’s pamphlets

  • Illustrated booklet with essays by British TV experts Ben Clarke and Christopher Perry, and recollections by composer Paddy Kingsland

The Boy from Space with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, live, at BFI Southbank in December

On Saturday 6 December, to celebrate this DVD release, BFI Southbank will present the specially-created 70 minute version of the series, directed by Maddalena Fagandini, followed by a panel discussion with key figures in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who provided the original music for this and so many other series. Following this our regular Sonic Cinema strand will provide a chance to hear the group play a specially selected set of Sci-Fi music from Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Quatermass to Doctor Who.

Well-remembered for its unsettling depiction of a society in meltdown, the ten-part BBC series The Changes, first broadcast in 1975, gets its long-overdue DVD release courtesy of the BFI on 25th August 2014 at the RRP of £24.99 as part of BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder, a nationwide celebration of Sci-Fi film and television. Made with a young audience in mind, this trailblazing series dared to explore complex and controversial themes, setting a standard that has rarely been matched since.

When a strange noise is emitted from machinery and electricity pylons, previously placid and easy-going folk turn violently against the technology that surrounds them – ruthlessly attacking radios, TVs and other domestic appliances. In the devastating aftermath, young Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams) is separated from her parents and finds a surrogate home with a group of Sikhs. But they soon are dubbed “The Devil’s Children” by superstitious locals and Nicky is accused of sorcery by a witchfinder. In grave danger, she is forced to find a way to escape, find her parents and uncover what caused the world to become so unbalanced.

This highly acclaimed series was adapted from Peter Dickinson’s best-selling trilogy of novels (The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil’s Children) by Anna Home (who would later become chief executive of the Children’s Film and Television Foundation), and features music by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Paddy Kingsland (The Boy from Space, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who).

The Changes paved the way for the likes of Survivors and Day of the Triffids and its gritty depiction of a near-apocalyptic world, and its integration of Sikh characters make it as progressive and fascinating now as it was when it was first broadcast.

Special features:

  • At Home in Britain (1983): a short COI film exploring the everyday lives and different faiths of Asian residents living in Britain

  • Stills gallery

  • Extensive illustrated booklet with essays by Peter Wright, Michael Bonner, Paddy Kingsland, Lisa Kerrigan, Kathleen Luckey and Rebecca Vick

You can watch a trailer here: