Out of the Unknown

Out of the Unknown is a British television science fiction anthology drama series, produced by the BBC and broadcast on BBC2 in four series between 1965 and 1971. Each episode was a dramatisation of a science fiction short story. Some were written directly for the series, but most were adaptations of already-published stories.

The first three years were exclusively science fiction, but that genre was abandoned in the final year in favour of horror/fantasy stories. A number of episodes were wiped during the early 1970s, as was standard procedure at the time. A large number of episodes are still missing, although in recent years they have occasionally turned up—for example, "Level Seven" from series two, originally broadcast on 27 October 1966, was returned to the BBC from the archives of a European broadcaster in January 2006.

Out of the Unknown
Created byIrene Shubik
Theme music composerNorman Kay (series 1 -3)
Roger Roger (series 4)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series4
No. of episodes49 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Irene Shubik (series 1 & 2)
Alan Bromly (series 3 & 4)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running timec. 60 minutes per episode (series 1)
c. 50 minutes per episode (series 2-4)
Original networkBBC 2
Picture format625 line (576i) PAL 4:3
Monochrome (series 1 & 2)
Colour (series 3 & 4)
Audio formatMonaural
Original release4 October 1965 –
30 June 1971


Irene Shubik began her career working on educational films for Encyclopædia Britannica Inc in Chicago. Returning to London, she joined ABC Television as a story editor on the anthology series Armchair Theatre in 1960, under producer Sydney Newman. Shubik had been a science fiction fan since college, and in 1961 approached Newman with a proposal to create a science fiction version of Armchair Theatre. This became Out of this World, a sixty-minute anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff that ran for thirteen episodes between June and September 1962. Many of the episodes were adaptations of stories by writers including John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick.

Series one

Shubik began work, and soon found that finding science fiction stories suitable for adaptation was a difficult task. She later recalled “I had to read hundreds of stories to pick a dozen. You have no idea how difficult some of these authors are to deal with, and it seems a special thing among SF writers to hedge themselves behind almost impossible copyright barriers, even when they have got a story that is possible to do on television. So many you can't. Either the conception is so way out you would need a fantastic budget to produce it, or the story is too short, too tight to be padded out to make an hour's television”.[1] When working on Out of this World Shubik had made a valuable contact in John Carnell, a key figure in British science fiction publishing. He was the founder of science fiction magazine New Worlds, and agent for many of Britain's science fiction writers. Carnell was able to suggest stories and authors for her to consider. Shubik received copies of science fiction anthologies from British publishers, and also sought advice from many authors including Frederik Pohl, Alfred Bester and Robert Silverberg. The latter two admitted to her that they had run into similar difficulties in finding suitable material for television adaptation. She considered asking Nigel Kneale if he would write a new Quatermass story for the series,[2] and contacted Arthur C. Clarke regarding the possibility of adapting his novel The Deep Range.[3]

In March 1965, Shubik travelled to New York City to negotiate rights with authors whose works she was considering, to seek ideas from US television, and to obtain more science fiction anthologies from US publishers. During her visit she met with US science fiction editors and also with Isaac Asimov, who granted permission for two of his stories to be adapted on the condition that they could only be shown in the UK: sales to foreign territories were not allowed. The trip to New York would become an annual event for her during her time on Out of the Unknown.[4]

On her return to London, Shubik learned that she had been appointed producer and story editor for the new anthology series. She obtained the services of George Spenton-Foster as her associate producer. Spenton-Foster was a science fiction fan and his wide experience of BBC television production proved invaluable to Shubik. By this stage, she had found the twelve scripts she needed for the series: ten episodes would be adaptations of stories by John Wyndham ("Time to Rest" and its sequel "No Place Like Earth", dramatised together as “No Place Like Earth”);[5] Alan Nourse ("The Counterfeit Man"); Isaac Asimov ("The Dead Past" and Sucker Bait); William Tenn ("Time in Advance"); Ray Bradbury ("The Fox and the Forest"); Kate Wilhelm ("Andover and the Android"); John Brunner ("Some Lapse of Time"); J.G. Ballard ("Thirteen to Centaurus") and Frederik Pohl ("The Midas Plague"). Two original stories—“Stranger in the Family” by David Campton and “Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come...?” by Mike Watts—were also commissioned. Among those commissioned to adapt the stories were a few notable names in television writing: Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks for Doctor Who and later of Survivors and Blake's 7, adapted Bradbury's "The Fox and the Forest" while Troy Kennedy Martin, co-creator of Z-Cars, adapted Pohl's "The Midas Plague".

A title for the series had not been decided when production began. Names including Dimension 4, The Edge of Tomorrow and From the Unknown were considered, before Out of the Unknown was settled upon. The title music was composed by Norman Kay and the title sequence was created by Bernard Lodge. It was intended from an early stage that, as with Boris Karloff on Out of this World, each story would be introduced by a regular host. Christopher Lee and Vincent Price were approached but were not available and the idea was dropped. The episode “Some Lapse of Time” is notable for having Ridley Scott, future director of such films as Alien and Blade Runner, as designer.

Out of the Unknown made its debut on Monday, 4 October 1965 at 8pm on BBC2, with Wyndham's “No Place Like Earth” selected as the opening story. Science fiction and fantasy was popular on television, with Doctor Who, The Avengers, Thunderbirds, The Man from UNCLE and Lost in Space all notable hits at the time. Out of the Unknown, however, would offer more adult, cerebral fare. Initial audience and critical reaction was mixed, but improved as the series went on with “Andover and the Android” (“It's not until intelligence, humour and gaiety break into television that you notice what tasteless pap we've been living on”[6] - Daily Mail) and “Some Lapse of Time” (“It was not surprising to hear from Late Night Line Up that there had been many complimentary telephone calls after the play [...] it left the viewer with the disconcerting feeling that there was more than a grain of truth in its fantasy”[7] - Birmingham Evening Mail and Dispatch) proving particularly popular with audiences and critics alike. BBC2 Controller David Attenborough praised the “overall professionalism that has become a hallmark of the series”.[8] By the end of its first run, Out of the Unknown was the second-most popular drama on BBC2, after the imported Western The Virginian.[9]

Series two

OOTU Telesnaps
A sequence of tele-snaps from the series two episode “The Prophet

In parallel with preparing for the second series of Out of the Unknown, Shubik was tasked with producing another anthology series: Thirteen Against Fate, adaptations of short stories by Maigret creator Georges Simenon. To assist her, she was assigned a script editor—initially Rodney Gedye, and then when Gedye left following clashes with Shubik,[10] Michael Imison. As with series one, finding suitable stories for adaptation remained a problem. On her annual visit to New York, Shubik placed an advertisement looking for stories in the Science Fiction Writers Association Bulletin. One author who answered the advertisement was Larry Eisenberg, whose stories The Fastest Draw and Too Many Cooks were commissioned. Two further adaptations, of E.M. Forster’s "The Machine Stops" and Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (dramatised as “Level Seven”), were scripts that had been offered, without success, to film studios for some years. Another script, adapting Colin Kapp’s Lambda 1, had been commissioned for series one but shelved, owing to technical considerations about how it could be realised. When special effects designer Jack Kine indicated that he had a solution to the technical challenges, the script was brought back into production for series two. Five further adaptations were commissioned: John Rankine’s The World in Silence, Henry Kuttner’s The Eye, Frederik Pohl’s Tunnel Under the World and Isaac Asimov’s "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Reason" (dramatised as “The Prophet”). Three original stories—“Frankenstein Mark II” by Hugh Whitemore, “Second Childhood” by Hugh Leonard and “Walk's End” by William Trevor—were also commissioned.

In response to Kenneth Tynan’s use of the word “fuck” on the satirical programme BBC-3, Sydney Newman issued directives to his producers regarding language and content. In the case of Out of the Unknown, this led to particular attention being paid to the scripts for “Second Childhood” (about reawakening of sexual desire when an elderly man undergoes a rejuvenation process) and “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (about a woman taking a robot as a lover).

Series two was broadcast on Thursday nights at 9:30pm, beginning with the episode “The Machine Stops” on 6 October 1966. The new series was promoted in listings magazine Radio Times with a front cover of “The Machine Stops”’ star Yvonne Mitchell and an article previewing the upcoming episodes, written by Michael Imison. The two most notable productions of the series were “The Machine Stops” and “Level Seven”. “The Machine Stops”, directed by Philip Saville, was a particularly challenging production—later described by Shubik as “the most complex and technically demanding script I have ever had in my hands ”[11]—requiring large and complex sets, including construction of one with a working monorail.[12] The effort paid off, however, as the adaptation was met with good reviews (“A haunting film – and a deeply disturbing one”[13] - The Times) and was awarded first prize at the Fifth Festival Internazionale del Film di Fantascienza (International Science Fiction Film Festival) in Trieste on 17 July 1967.[14] “Level Seven” was adapted by J. B. Priestley and directed by Rudolph Cartier. Priestley’s script had begun life as a potential screenplay for a feature film, and condensing it down to Out of the Unknown’s standard running time of fifty minutes proved impossible. In the end, Shubik convinced the management of the BBC to allow “Level Seven” to run to sixty minutes as a one-off exceptional measure. Reviewing “Level Seven” in The Listener, J.C. Trewin said, “the tension was inescapable, the excitement incontestable, more so, undoubtedly, than other thrusts into the future”.[15] The robot costumes created for “The Prophet” were later reused in the Doctor Who serial “The Mind Robber”.[16]

Series two of Out of the Unknown had built on the success of the first series. However, as Irene Shubik and Michael Imison began work on the third series, major changes were implemented.

Series three

Shubik was in the middle of her third trip to New York in early 1967 when she received a call from Sydney Newman offering her the opportunity to co-produce, with Graeme McDonald, BBC1's most prestigious drama slot, The Wednesday Play. Shubik accepted the new post but insisted that she be given time to commission a full series of Out of the Unknown scripts before moving on to The Wednesday Play and handing Out of the Unknown over to a new production team. At the same time, Michael Imison also moved on to produce Thirty Minute Theatre. Shubik went on to become a noted television producer of series such as Play for Today, Playhouse and Rumpole of the Bailey and instigated, but did not produce, the acclaimed adaptation of The Jewel in the Crown.

For series three, Shubik commissioned dramatisations of stories by Robert Sheckley (Immortality, Inc.); Isaac Asimov (Liar! and The Naked Sun (the sequel to The Caves of Steel which Shubik had dramatised for Story Parade in 1963)); John Brunner (The Last Lonely Man); Clifford D. Simak (Beach Head and Target Generation); John Wyndham (Random Quest); Cyril M. Kornbluth (The Little Black Bag); Rog Phillips (The Yellow Pill) and Peter Phillips (Get Off My Cloud). Original stories were provided by Donald Bull (“Something in the Cellar”), Brian Hayles (“1+1=1.5”) and Michael Ashe (“The Fosters”). Two scripts, “The Yellow Pill” and “Target Generation”, had previously been used in Shubik's earlier anthology series Out of this World.

In September 1967, Alan Bromly and Roger Parkes were appointed as, respectively, the new producer and script editor. Bromly and Parkes both had a background in thriller series. With all the scripts already commissioned, Bromly and Parkes' role was mainly to shepherd them through production.

Series three – the first Out of the Unknown series to be made in colour – was broadcast on Wednesday nights beginning on 7 January 1969 with the episode, “Immortality, Inc.”. One viewer of “Immortality, Inc.” was Beatle George Harrison who can be seen discussing the episode with Ringo Starr in the film Let It Be.[17] Scheduled opposite the very popular ITV drama series The Power Game, the series suffered in the ratings and met with mixed reviews; the Daily Express found the series “most erratic”, sometimes “wonderfully inventive” but at other times “as silly as a comic strip in a child's magazine”.[18] The production of “Random Quest” led its author, John Wyndham, to write to director Christopher Barry praising “the hard work and ingenuity of a great number of people concerned [...] excellent work by everybody – not forgetting the adapter. My thanks to everyone [...] for weaving it all together so skillfully”.[19] “Beach Head” was entered into the Sixth Festival Internazionale del Film di Fantascienza in July 1968, in the hope of repeating the earlier success of “The Machine Stops”, but did not win.

Get off my Cloud included Doctor Who's prop of the TARDIS exterior and the scenes were recorded in August 1968.[20]

Series four

The fourth series of Out of the Unknown began production in early 1970. Bromly and Parkes were now free to put their own creative mark on the series. Encouraged by Head of Serials Gerald Savory, they sought to recast Out of the Unknown as “not straight science fiction, but with a strong horror content, all starting out from a realistic basis”.[21] The decision to move towards psychological horror came about partly because of the difficulties involved in finding suitable science fiction scripts, partly because the production team felt that their budget could not compete with the glossy fare offered by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek (the latter had just begun to be broadcast in the UK at this time), and partly because it was felt that science fiction could not compete with the real-life drama of the Apollo moon landings then occurring.

Another major change for series four was a move away from adapting novels and short stories. Only one episode of series four – “Deathday” based on the novel by Angus Hall, dramatised by Brian Hayles – was an adaptation; the remaining ten episodes were original works.

Series four was broadcast on Wednesday nights beginning 21 April 1971. The new series sported a new title sequence devised by Charles McGhie and a new theme tune - “Lunar Landscape” by Roger Roger (also known as "Profondeurs"). Both ratings and critical reception were positive, although some viewers were disappointed by the move away from hard science fiction – a typical comment was that of Martin J. Pitt who wrote to the Radio Times, “it will be a pity if the opinions of people like Alan Bromly rob television of the opportunity to present intelligent and exciting science fiction”.[21]

Although the fourth series was judged to be a success, the BBC chose not to renew Out of the Unknown for a fifth series. With the exception of the Play for Today spin-off, Play for Tomorrow, no regular lengthy science fiction anthology series has been made by a UK broadcaster since Out of the Unknown went off the air.

Archive status

Of the forty-nine episodes of Out of the Unknown that were made, only twenty survive in their entirety, mainly from series one.[22] Almost thirty minutes of “The Little Black Bag” also survive, as do shorter clips from “The Fox and the Forest”, “Andover and the Android”, “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, “Liar!” and “The Last Witness”. Complete audio recordings exist of “The Yellow Pill” and “The Uninvited” as well as audio clips of other lost episodes.[23] Off-screen photographs, known as tele-snaps, were taken of many first and second series stories including some of the missing episodes. These were published in Mark Ward's Out of the Unknown: A guide to the legendary BBC series in 2004. The fourth series episodes “The Last Witness” and “The Uninvited”, both of which are missing, were remade as episodes of Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense - respectively as “A Distant Scream” and “In Possession” - and broadcast in the UK in 1986. A new adaptation of John Wyndham's Random Quest, which had been dramatised for series three and had also been adapted as the film Quest for Love, was made for BBC Four and broadcast on 27 November 2006 as part of that channel's Science Fiction Britannia season.[24]

The episode Level 7 was shown at the British Film Institute South Bank in August 2009, while the episode “Thirteen to Centaurus” was repeated by BBC Four in 2003 as part of a J.G. Ballard retrospective.[25]

All surviving episodes of Out of the Unknown were released on DVD by the BFI in November 2014.[26]

The BBC Archive Treasure Hunt, a public appeal campaign, continues to search for lost episodes.


  1. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 31.
  2. ^ Pixley, Andrew (2005). The Quatermass Collection — Viewing Notes (paperback). London: BBC Worldwide. BBCDVD1478.
  3. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 25.
  4. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 26.
  5. ^ Bould, Mark (January 18, 2015). "Out of the Unknown: 'No Place Like Earth' (BBC2 4 October 1965)". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 120.
  7. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 131.
  8. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 33.
  9. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 32.
  10. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 153.
  11. ^ Shubik, Play for Today, p. 126.
  12. ^ Houldsworth, Richard (November 1991). "Fantasy Flashback: Out of the Unknown – The Machine Stops". TV Zone Special (3): 46–48. ISSN 0960-8230.
  13. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 172.
  14. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 276.
  15. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 198.
  16. ^ Pixley, Andrew (20 November 1996). "Doctor Who Archive: The Mind Robber". Doctor Who Magazine (245): 27. ISSN 0957-9818.
  17. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 288.
  18. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 353.
  19. ^ Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 334.
  20. ^ http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=4489.msg51947
  21. ^ a b Ward, Out of the Unknown, p. 394.
  22. ^ "Out of the Unknown". missing-episodes.com. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  23. ^ Rose, Lee. "Out of the Unknown clips guide". Zeta Minor. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  24. ^ "Random Quest". BBC Four Drama. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  25. ^ "Thirteen to Centaurus". BBC Four Drama. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  26. ^ "Sci-Fi Week: Out of the Unknown". theartsdesk.com. Retrieved 26 Nov 2014.


  • Cooper, Nick (1994–1998). "Time in Advance". 625.org. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  • Fulton, Roger (1997). The Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction (3rd ed.). London: Boxtree. pp. 289–300. ISBN 0-7522-1150-1.
  • Shubik, Irene (2001). Play for Today: The evolution of television drama (2nd ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-5687-1.
  • Ward, Mark (2004). Out of the Unknown: A Guide to the legendary BBC series. Bristol: Kaleidescope. ISBN 1-900203-10-3.

External links

Douglas Camfield

Douglas Gaston Sydney Camfield (8 May 1931 – 27 January 1984) was a British television director, active from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Camfield studied at York School of Art and aimed to work for Walt Disney. He was a lieutenant in the West Yorkshire Regiment and was training to be in the SAS but due to an injury, he pulled out of the application process. His programme credits include Doctor Who, Z-Cars, Paul Temple, Van der Valk, The Sweeney, Shoestring, The Professionals, Out of the Unknown, The Nightmare Man, the BBC dramatisation of Beau Geste, and Ivanhoe, the 1982 television movie. Camfield was known for his strict professionalism and was held in high esteem by many actors, producers and writers.

Edwin Richfield

Edwin Richfield (11 September 1921 – 2 August 1990) was an English actor.His film credits include: X the Unknown, Quatermass 2, The Camp on Blood Island, The Face of Fu Manchu and Quatermass and the Pit.He starred in the 1959 television series Interpol Calling. He was The Odd Man in Granada TV's series of the same name in the early 1960s.Richfield played regular guest roles in the 1960s spy series The Avengers, frequently cast as a villain. He was the only actor – other than Patrick Macnee – to have appeared in each of the six seasons of the programme.Other television roles include: R3, 199 Park Lane, Gideon's Way, Danger Man, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Baron, Champion House, Out of the Unknown, The Owl Service, UFO, Bergerac, Crossroads, Doctor Who (The Sea Devils and The Twin Dilemma), and All Creatures Great and Small.

Gerald Blake

Gerald Blake (3 December 1928 – 5 April 1991) was a television director during the 1960s to the 1980s.

His numerous credits include The Gentle Touch, The Omega Factor (the episode After-Image), Blake's 7, Survivors, The Onedin Line, Out of the Unknown, Doctor Who (the stories The Abominable Snowmen (1967) and The Invasion of Time (1978)), Dr. Finlay's Casebook, Compact, Z-Cars, Mr. Palfrey of Westminster, and Coronation Street.

Ian Curteis

Ian Bayley Curteis (born 1 May 1935) is a British dramatist and former television director.

Curteis was born in London, and began his career as an actor, joining Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in the mid-1950s, and later working in this profession in regional theatres, and as a stage director or producer. His career in television began as a script reader for both the BBC and Granada Television. Curteis joined the staff of the BBC as a trainee director in 1964. The Projected Man (1966), which he directed, is his only cinema film. Around the same time Curteis directed an episode of the BBC2 anthology series, Out of the Unknown, William Trevor's "Walk's End". Both projects had a problematic production; Curteis has disputed the claims of the producers of both.Switching to a career as a television dramatist from the late 1960s onwards, Curteis wrote for many series of the time, including The Onedin Line and Crown Court. Meanwhile, Curteis was writing television plays - he prefers the term over "drama documentaries" - with historical themes. Philby, Burgess and Maclean was commissioned by Granada, and broadcast in 1977. In autumn 1979 came Churchill and the Generals, Suez 1956, and the 8-part series Prince Regent, about George IV. Lost Empires, a television adaptation of J. B. Priestley's novel followed in 1986.

The Falklands Play, originally scheduled for production in 1985, was eventually broadcast in 2002. At the time production was cancelled, Curteis blamed a "liberal conspiracy" at the BBC. A BBC commission for a dramatisation of the Yalta Conference in 1945 was cancelled in 1995, Curteis alleged, because of his politically conservative presentation of events. A stage play, The Bargain (2007), dealing with a fictionalised account of the meeting between Robert Maxwell and Mother Teresa in 1988 was adapted for BBC Radio in 2016.Curteis is divorced from the novelist Joanna Trollope, his second wife. His third wife is Lady Deirdre Hare, daughter of William Hare, 5th Earl of Listowel: together they have restored their home Markenfield Hall.

John Carson (actor)

John Derek Carson-Parker (28 February 1927 – 5 November 2016), known as John Carson, was an English actor known for his appearances in film and television.

Born to English parents in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where his father worked on tea and rubber plantations, he was educated in Australia and went to Britain to do national service as an artillery officer in an anti-aircraft regiment between 1944 and 1945. He then studied law at Queen's College, Oxford before leaving for New Zealand, where he worked in amateur theatre before returning to Britain to begin his professional career. His stage appearances included the original productions of A Man For All Seasons and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

Making his film debut in 1947, Carson carved out a career appearing in low-budget British films such as Seven Keys (1961); Smokescreen (1964); and Master Spy (1964). His saturnine looks and sinister voice (sometimes compared with James Mason) led to him starring in a number of horror films including The Night Caller (1965); The Plague of the Zombies (1966); The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970); Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970); and Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1972).Beside his appearances in horror films he was also known for his many villainous turns in adventure series of the 1960s, such as The Adventures of Robin Hood; The Avengers; The Saint; Adam Adamant Lives!; The Baron; Man in a Suitcase; The Champions and Department S.

His long and varied list of television credits include Emergency - Ward 10; Ivanhoe; William Tell; Armchair Theatre; Maigret; Out of the Unknown; Emma (as Mr. Knightley); Dixon of Dock Green; Crown Court; The New Avengers; Telford's Change; Secret Army; The Professionals; Tales of the Unexpected; Hammer House of Horror; Doctor Who (Snakedance); Shaka Zulu and Poirot. He was also the voice-over performer in Sunsilk TV commercials.Carson moved with his family to South Africa in 1983 and continued to work in film and television. He died at his home in Cape Town on 5 November 2016 at the age of 89. Married twice, he was survived by his second wife, novelist Luanshya Greer, a British actress, who is best known for her roles on television during the 1960s. In 1966, she changed her name to Luanshya Greer and became a writer for TV shows including Dixon of Dock Green, Thriller and Triangle. Carson was also survived by his six children, four from his first marriage, Richard, Chris, Katie and Harry, and two from his second marriage, Ben and Suzanna.

John Paul (actor)

John Paul (20 April 1921 – 23 February 1995) was a British actor.He is best known for his television roles, particularly as Dr Spencer Quist in Doomwatch (1970–1972) and Marcus Agrippa in I, Claudius (1976), both for BBC Television.An early role was as the lead in the ITV series Probation Officer in the early 1960s. He appeared as Captain Flint in a BBC adaptation of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons in 1963. He had guest roles in episodes of popular television series such as Out of the Unknown, Doctor Finlay's Casebook, The Avengers, Dixon of Dock Green, The Saint, Marked Personal and The New Avengers, mostly during the 1960s and 1970s. One of his final TV appearances was in Selling Hitler, based on the real-life attempts to sell fake diaries attributed to Adolf Hitler.During his career he also appeared in feature films such as Yangtse Incident (1957), The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), Cromwell (1970), Eye of the Needle (1981), and Cry Freedom (1987).

John Rolfe (actor)

John Rolfe is a British actor. He was named after the colonist who married Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia.

His television credits include: Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Adam Adamant Lives!, The First Lady, Softly, Softly, Doctor Who (in the serials The War Machines, The Moonbase and The Green Death), Paul Temple, The Troubleshooters, Out of the Unknown, The Regiment, Spy Trap, Warship, Oil Strike North, Survivors, Blake's 7, Minder, Secret Army, The Enigma Files, Yes Minister, One by One, Howards' Way and The House of Eliott. He did the first, moustached and spectacled postman in "Mr. Bean Rides Again" (he played the postman seen before Mr. Bean got locked in the letterbox after he stole a lady's stamp for his own letter). He also played Graham in the 1980 film McVicar, starring Roger Daltrey.

Keith Pyott

Keith Pyott (Blackheath, London, 9 March 1902 - 6 April 1968) was a British actor.He transferred from stage to screen and was a regular face in drama in the early days of television, appearing in The Prisoner, Out of the Unknown, The Avengers and the Doctor Who story The Aztecs.He also appeared in over twenty feature films, including Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight (1965).Pyott was married to the actress Sheila Raynor.

Lesley-Anne Down

Lesley-Anne Down (born 17 March 1954) is an English actress, former model, and singer.

She achieved fame as Georgina Worsley in the ITV drama series Upstairs, Downstairs (1973–75). She received further recognition for her performances in the films The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), A Little Night Music (1977), The First Great Train Robbery (1979), Hanover Street (1979), Rough Cut (1980), Sphinx (1981), and Nomads (1986). She is also known as Madeline Fabray in the miniseries North and South (1985–86), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1986.

In 1990, Down played the role Stephanie Rogers in the CBS drama series Dallas. During 1997–99, she played Olivia Richards in the NBC series Sunset Beach. From April 2003 to February 2012, she portrayed Jackie Marone in the CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.

List of Out of the Unknown episodes

The following is a complete episode list of the anthology science fiction television series Out of the Unknown, which aired on BBC2 over four series between 4 October 1965 and 30 June 1971. The first two series were made and broadcast in black and white, and the latter two in colour.

Many Out of the Unknown episodes were adaptations of short stories and novels. In such cases, the list below credits the story to the original author and lists the adapter in the following column. Instances where an adaptation was broadcast under a title different from that of the original work are footnoted as appropriate. Where a script was an original commission, the screenwriter is credited as the author and the “Adapted by” column is marked “n/a”.

Only twenty episodes of the series survive in the archives today. The “Exists?” column indicates whether an episode has survived or not. In some cases, short clips and/or audio recordings of missing episodes have survived – these are indicated in the footnotes.

Neil Hallett

Neil Hallett (30 June 1924 – 5 December 2004) was a Belgian-born English actor. His stage name was taken from a combination of his proper surname, Neil and his grandmothers maiden name, Hallet.

He appeared in many British television series and films, including X the Unknown, The Adventures of Robin Hood, No Hiding Place, The Avengers, Out of the Unknown, Department S, Z-Cars, UFO, Virgin Witch, The New Avengers, Doctor Who, Jeeves and Wooster and others.

Out of This World (UK TV series)

Out of This World is a British science fiction anthology television series made by ABC Television and broadcast in 1962. A spin-off from the Armchair Theatre anthology series, each episode was introduced by the actor Boris Karloff. Many of the episodes were adaptations of stories by science fiction writers including Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick and Clifford D. Simak. The series is generally seen as a precursor to the BBC science fiction anthology series Out of the Unknown.

Out of the Unknown (collection)

Out of the Unknown is a collection of fantasy short stories by Canadian writers A. E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull. It was first published in 1948 by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in an edition of 1,000 copies. The stories originally appeared in the magazine Unknown.

Peter Madden (actor)

Peter Madden (9 August 1904 – 24 February 1976) was a British actor who was born in Ipoh in the Federated Malay States (now Malaysia). He was the son of Frederick Charles Linnet Butler-Madden and Margaret Teresa McCabe, and his name at birth was Dudley Frederick Peter Butler-Madden.

Madden was a character actor who made several appearances in Hammer films and was a familiar face in British film and television during the 1950s and 1960s.

He appeared as the innkeeper Bruno in The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and as the stern Police Chief in Frankenstein Created Woman (1967). His last Hammer role was brief, as a coach driver in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973).

In the cult television series The Prisoner (1967), Madden, uncredited, plays the sinister undertaker in the opening sequence.

On television he was seen in Danger Man, Z-Cars, The Avengers, The Saint and The Champions, Out of the Unknown, Steptoe and Son in the episode 'Live Now P.A.Y.E. Later' and also played Inspector Lestrade opposite Douglas Wilmer’s Sherlock Holmes in the 1965 BBC series.

Reason (short story)

"Reason" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, first published in the April 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and collected in I, Robot (1950), The Complete Robot (1982), and Robot Visions (1990). It is part of Asimov's Robot series, and was the second of Asimov's positronic robot stories to see publication.

In 1967, this short story was adapted into an episode of British television series Out of the Unknown entitled "The Prophet". The robot costumes that were used in this particular episode of the anthology series were later re-used for the Doctor Who serial The Mind Robber. The costumes were re-painted from black to grey and yellow as they were to be shot against a completely white backdrop for the serial in question.

The Caves of Steel

The Caves of Steel is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov. It is a detective story and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction can be applied to any literary genre, rather than just being a limited genre in itself.

The book was first published as a serial in Galaxy magazine, from October to December 1953. A Doubleday hardcover followed in 1954.

The Little Black Bag

"The Little Black Bag" is a science fiction short story by American Cyril M. Kornbluth, first published in the July 1950 edition of Astounding Science Fiction. It is a predecessor of sorts to the story "The Marching Morons". It won the 2001 Retroactive Hugo Award for Best Novelette (of 1951) and was also recognized as the 13th best all-time short science fiction story in a 1971 Analog Science Fact & Fiction poll, tied with "Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon. It was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.

It was the basis of episodes (using the same title) in three television series: Tales of Tomorrow in 1952, Out of the Unknown in 1969 and Night Gallery in 1970.

The Seeds of Time

The Seeds of Time is a collection of science fiction short stories by John Wyndham, published in 1956 by Michael Joseph. The title is presumably from Macbeth, Act I Scene III.

The collection contains:

a foreword by John Wyndham

"Chronoclasm", a time-travelling romantic comedy.

"Time To Rest", depicting the life on Mars of a human survivor of the destruction of Earth. A sequel "No Place Like Earth" appears in the collection No Place Like Earth (2003), which contains both; both also appeared dramatised together in 1965 as “No Place Like Earth”, the first episode of the BBC2 series, Out of the Unknown.

"Meteor", in which alien visitors to Earth find themselves on a very different scale to humans.

"Survival", set on a spacecraft marooned in orbit around Mars. A BBC Radio 4 adaption was broadcast in 1989 with Stephen Garlick, Susan Sheridan, and Nicholas Courtney. It was released as an Audiobook in 2007 with the 1981 version of The Chrysalids.

"Pawley's Peepholes", another time travel story, this time playing it as comedy.

"Opposite Number", which plays with the concept of parallel universes.

"Pillar To Post" The central character is a paraplegic who was badly injured in a road accident. Frequently taking drugs to cope with the pain, he finds himself in a healthy body very far in the future. A complex plot of body-swapping and time travel ensues. It is considered by some people to be the best story in the collection.

"Dumb Martian", a satire on racism, featuring an Earthman who buys a Martian wife.

"Compassion Circuit", a horror story on the subject of robotics.

"Wild Flower", which explores the tension between nature and technology.

Tom Chadbon

Tom Chadbon (born 27 February 1946, in Luton) is an English actor who has spent much of his career appearing on British television. Although principally a character actor, he has occasionally had leading or recurring roles.

Chadbon starred in all 10 episodes of Crown Prosecutor (1995), playing Lenny Monk, and he had substantial recurring roles in Chancer, The Liver Birds, Where the Heart Is, Wire in the Blood, and the 23rd series of Casualty (as Professor Henry Williams).

Chadbon is also recognisable from his featured appearances on many British television shows, including: Out of the Unknown, The Stone Tape, Softly, Softly, Blake's 7, Tales of the Unexpected, Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady, The New Statesman, Between the Lines, Peak Practice, Casualty, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Silent Witness, The Bill, Holby City, Heartbeat, Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders, Rebecca, Taggart, and Father Brown.

He played Duggan in the Doctor Who serial City of Death (1979) and returned to Doctor Who as Merdeen in the 1986 serial The Trial of a Time Lord. Chadbon has also been an occasional guest star in Big Finish audio productions. Most notably, he played the recurring character of Will in the second series of the Sarah Jane Smith audio adventures. He also had a featured guest role in No More Lies, during Paul McGann's 2007 broadcast season on BBC Radio 7. He also repised the role of Del Grant for the Blake's 7 audio series for Big Finish.

Chadbon's film work includes The Alf Garnett Saga (1972), The Beast Must Die (1974), Juggernaut (1974), Tess (1979), Coming Out of the Ice (1982), Dance with a Stranger (1985), Shooting Fish (1997), and Casino Royale (2006).

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