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The Day of the Triffids
The Day of the Triffids
Genre drama
Starring John Duttine (Bill Masen), Emma Relph (Josella Payton), Maurice Colbourne (Jack Coker), Stephen Yardley (John), Gary Olsen (Torrence)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of episodes 6
Producer(s) David Maloney
Original channel BBC One
Picture format 4:3
Original airing 10 September 1981 - 16 October 1981

John Wyndham's science fiction novel The Day of the Triffids has been filmed twice by British television. The first was in 1981.

The 1981 BBC adaptation was made in six half-hour (26 min) episodes, produced by David Maloney, directed by Ken Hannam and written by Douglas Livingstone, with original music by Christopher Gunning. It premiered simultaneously in the UK and in Australia on ABC Television. Australian-born director Ken Hannam (1929–2004) started his TV career at ABC Television in the 1960s and went on to direct episodes of many notable British TV series including Dr. Finlay's Casebook, Colditz, Juliet Bravo, the Jeremy Brett/Edward Hardwicke version of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The House of Eliott and The Bill.



Plot summary

The series takes place in late 20th century Britain. A spectacular meteorite shower unexpectedly renders most of humanity blind, leading to the breakdown of society literally overnight. Bill Masen (John Duttine), who by chance has retained his sight by virtue of being in hospital with his eyes bandaged, joins a small band of similarly lucky survivors. As British societal norms collapse and the human race turns against itself, the survivors must fend off attacks from roving bands of the blind, and a sinister military force.

They must also fight to stay one step ahead of the Triffids. These mobile carnivorous plants, armed with a lethal stinger, had hitherto been farmed for their oil. With the apparently coincidental collapse of social order, the Triffids reveal the ability to be mobile and they run amok amongst the helpless human population, slaughtering and feeding on them. With man's natural advantage, sight, gone – the Triffids begin to establish themselves as the dominant life form in Britain. The irony for Bill is that he was the first person in Britain ever to be stung by a Triffid, as a child (surviving because it was not fully developed) and was in the hospital due to another sting, received—despite wearing a safety mask—on the Triffid farm where he worked. The relentless plants force the surviving humans to abandon their cities and live in isolated rural hamlets and on islands.

The Triffid plants

A Triffid was operated by a man crouched inside, cooled by a fan installed in its neck; the 'clackers' were radio controlled. The gnarled bole, based on the ginseng root, was made of latex with a covering of sawdust and string while the neck was fibreglass and continued down to the floor, where it joined with the operator's seat. The plant was surmounted by a flexible rubber head, coated with clear gunge.

After the end of the production one was displayed for a while in the Natural History Museum in London; They were designed by Steve Drewett who worked there.[1] Some inferior copies of the props later threw a cocktail party for Angus Deayton during an episode of Alexei Sayle's Stuff.

Filming Locations

Some of the locations used in the series, such as the University of London’s Senate House, corresponded to those specified in the book. Many of the locations used during filming can be located by studying the street names and other signs which appear in the show. For example, Jo’s family home appears to be 2 Heath Side, which is adjacent to Hampstead Heath in London NW1. Additionally, Jo and Bill first meet in a stairwell on the Theseus Estate in London N1. Indeed, the couple run along Theseus Walk past the street sign, at the beginning of Episode 3. The street sign for Remington Street can also be seen in the scene in which Jo’s car stops at the beginning of the second episode.

DVD releases

The series was released on DVD in the UK on 4 April 2005 and in Australia on 6 June 2005. A US DVD (through BBC Home Video) was released on 1 October 2007.


The series was repeated on BBC1 (7 March 1984 - 11 April 1984), Satellite channel UK Gold screened the series in (2004/2005) and the Sci-Fi channel in 2006. BBC Four have also screened the series in 2006 and 2009.

See also


External links


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