The Beeb's Top Ten Sci-Fi Shows Of All Time

kelloggs2066's picture

Odd thing popped up on YouTube for me this morning:

A BBC program from 2001 selecting the Top 10 Sci-Fi TV shows in their opinion.

The list is not all that surprising, nor are the descriptions of the program that interesting, but what is interesting is that it shows some of the ways British audiences look at Science Fiction.

#10: Space: 1999. Not all that surprising. It was one of theirs but a few down the list I'll make note of some contradictions in their thinking that aren't really contradictions if you're British.

#9: Buck Rogers (the 80's TV show). Really? Well, okay, but it's an odd choice since "Battlestar Galactica," "Lost In Space," and "UFO" didn't make the list. They saw it as a Very American show because it had lots of girls in spandex and an American Football player as the main character.

#8: The Tomorrow People. Very British 1970s non-violent sci-fi that aired on Nickelodeon in the early 1980s. All based on a David Bowie song about Homo Superior. (Evidently, it was too psychologically violent for Sweden.)

#7: Sapphire and Steel. Time and alternate universe travelling policemen of some sort. Fixing time. No explaination of where the characters come from orwho they're working for. (Sounds very much like a Dr. Who spinoff/inspiration, as it took years to come up with the explaination that Dr. Who was a Timelord.)

#6: Blakes Seven. Very Dark, very British view of the future during the 1970s. The government is evil and the 'good guy' rebels aren't really that 'good.' After a few seasons the 'good guy' left the show and the anti-hero took over. Then everybody shoots each other. It was amusing to hear them say
their special effects budget was 50 pounds an episode.

#5: Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. I may have to revisit this one. I didn't think it was a very good adaptation from the radio series.

#4: Thunderbirds. Kind of a predictable choice. It is Gerry Anderson's most famous TV show. In an interview, Anderson talked about how almost all the characters were American, so they brought in the most British Character they could with Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker. They needed to British it up.

#3: Red Dwarf. No big surprise there. It's a very good show, and thoroughly British.

#2: Dr. Who. No surprise there. This list was put out before it had been revived so they took a minimal amount of time to roll their eyes at the American Dr. Who effort in the 1990s.

#1: Star Trek. Odd that they let an American take the #1 spot. Odder still was the criticism of the show. They didn't think that it was multicultural enough. The complaint was that in the future, everyone spoke American. But then, there's the surprise. Star Trek has more UK main characters than say, Space: 1999 for which they had no such criticism. Mr. Scott may have been played by a Canadian, but he represented the UK far more than Paul Morrow did on Space: 1999. Scotty was the 4th main character. Paul Morrow was somewhere down around #5 or #6.

They did say that Star Trek was an instrument of American Foreign Policy. There was the Non-Interferance Directive, which the cast constantly ignored.

Personally, I find it odd that BBC America has reruns of TNG. Patrick Stewart is indeed about as British as you can be, but he's *supposed* to be playing a Frenchman. (Why Stewart is supposed to be a great actor when he can't even *pretend* to be French, I don't know. Werner Klemperer could have walked around drinking schnapps and still played a more convincing Frenchman.)

All in all, it's not *that* interesting a program, but the different views of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular make it food for thought.

Here's the link to #10. It's even hosted by a really creepy-crunchy Tom Baker. You can track the others via the sidebar on Youtube.