For adults of a certain age (no, don’t ask…I’d have to kill you. And then eat you) in the early to mid ’70s it was all about DOCTOR WHO and THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. DOCTOR WHO was still a huge success for the BBC so Thames TV enlisted Roger Damon Price to create what was generally perceived to be an ITV ‘rival’ to the Corporation’s famous show. Price came up with THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, ‘homo superior’, a bunch of kids with extraordinary super-abilities – and a minor TV legend was born.
Kids like me loved the show because it was in many ways the ultimate wish fulfilment series. These kids could teleport themselves anywhere in the world (or even the Galaxy), they could travel in time, they could communicate telepathically and they could move things about without even touching them. How cool was that? Some of us weren’t blind to the series faults though; the acting was largely dubious, the show’s budget led to some extremely ropey special effects and the stories were often excruciatingly naff. But we still loved the show because we loved the ideas. THE TOMORROW PEOPLE fizzled out in 1979 and, largely unmourned, it was quickly forgotten. There was a brief resurrection in the mid-1990s in the shape of a glossy filmed series but it was THE TOMORROW PEOPLE in name only and there were no connections to the original series apart from the weak stories and bad acting.
But now the original TOMORROW PEOPLE concept is back – albeit in audio only form – courtesy of Big Finish Productions, purveyors of new high-quality DOCTOR WHO adventures for the last 2 or 3 years. There’s probably a delicious irony somewhere in the fact that the fans of DOCTOR WHO are keeping not only the Time Lord’s flame alive but they’re also now responsible for breathing new life into the adventures of his greatest 1970s rival. But I’m not big on irony so I’ll move on.
THE TOMORROW PEOPLE really works on audio – in a way it works even better than DOCTOR WHO. It’s hard not to feel the spine tingle at the sound of Dudley Simpson’s haunting theme music, even without the accompanying images of the title sequence (which new TP Eleanor conveniently describes to new boy Paul in the first episode of ‘The New Gods’) and the stories themselves are warm, witty, imaginative and entirely within the style of the TV show, something which the DOCTOR WHO audios haven’t always managed to achieve.