The Tomorrow People is a British science fiction television series, devised by Roger Price primarily for children, which first ran between 1973 and 1979. The show was re-imagined between 1992 and 1995, this time with Roger Price as executive producer. A third incarnation, running between 2001 and 2007, returned to the original concept and characters, but this time produced as a series of audio plays by Nigel Fairs for Big Finish Productions. All three incarnations were cancelled mid-run.
All incarnations of the show concerned the emergence of the next stage of human evolution (homo superior) known colloquially as Tomorrow People. Born to human parents, an apparently normal child might at some point between childhood and late adolescence experience a process called "breaking out", when they develop their special abilities. These abilities include psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. However, their psychological makeup prevents them from intentionally killing others.
|The Tomorrow People|
|Genre||Fantasy / Drama / Sci-Fi|
|Created by||Roger Price|
|Starring||Nicholas Young, Elizabeth Adare, Peter Vaughan-Clarke, Philip Gilbert, Stephen Salmon, Sammie Winmill, Dean Lawrence, Mike Holoway , Misako Koba, Nigel Rhodes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||68 (List)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original run||April 30, 1973 – February 19, 1979|
The original series was produced by Thames Television for Britain's ITV network. The Tomorrow People operate out of a secret laboratory, The lab, built in an abandoned London Underground station. The lab was revamped at the beginning of series 6. The team watch for new Tomorrow People "breaking out" to help them through the process and sometimes deal with attention from extraterrestrial species. They deal with the "Galactic Federation" which oversees the welfare of telepathic species throughout the galaxy. In addition to their psychic powers, they also use advanced technology such as the biological computer TIM, which is capable of original thought, telepathy, and can augment their psychic powers. TIM also helps the Tomorrow People to teleport long distances, although they must be wearing a device installed into a belt or bracelet for this to work. Teleportation is called jaunting in the programme, similar to the term jaunte used in the novel The Stars My Destination.
In the original series the Tomorrow People are also referred to by the term Homo superior. This term appears in David Bowie's song Oh! You Pretty Things: "Let me make it plain. You gotta make way for the Homo Superior." This term came up as part of a conversation between Roger Price and David Bowie at a meeting at Granada studios in Manchester. Price was directing a programme in which Bowie was appearing. Price had been working on a script for his Tomorrow People project and during a conversation with Bowie, the term Homo superior came up. Bowie liked the term and soon afterwards wrote it into his song, pre-dating the series itself which was eventually produced as a TV series by Thames TV in 1973. Price has sometimes been quoted as saying that that the lyrics to this song were inspired by the series, not the other way around. The term "Homo Superior" has also been used earlier, for instance by the character Magneto in the American X-Men comic book. The earliest known use of "homo superior" as a description of a superhuman was decades prior, in British author Olaf Stapledon's novel Odd John.
Alistair McGown of Screen Online cites The Mind in Chains by Dr Christopher Evans as a primary source. He also suggests a similarity between the Tomorrow People and the children's fantasy fiction of Enid Blyton.
While they reveal their existence to some, the Tomorrow People generally operate in secrecy for fear that normal people (whom they term "Saps", a pejorative abbreviation for Homo sapiens) will either fear or victimize them because of their special powers or try to exploit them for military purposes. In order to defend themselves they must use non-lethal weaponry such as "stun guns" or martial arts throws due to their inability to cause harm, referred to as the "prime barrier".
Even for the time, the special effects of the original show were considered sub-par and camp, largely attributable to the show's small budget. For example, the series initially suffered from the somewhat primitive yellow-screen chroma key effects of the time, although in later episodes the special effect for jaunting became very convincing (In series 1, they were enshrouded by a shower of yellow lights when they teleported; beginning in series 2, the effect was changed, so that they could just fade out, and then fade in again somewhere else). In an interview Price said that the producer of Doctor Who actually telephoned him, and asked how he managed to make people jaunt while others moved in the shot.
As the series wore on Price became tired of his creation and attempted to end it by killing off the leads at the conclusion to season 3. However Thames was onto a ratings winner and insisited he brought it back, albeit in smaller seasons from thereon. Price only ever allowed one attempt by another writer to work on it with Jon E Watkins penning the disappointing, "Into the Unknown" in 1976. With less episodes to write Price would have more time to work on his comedic productions that he enjoyed more than the demanding sci fi drama. At the start of the fourth season he attempted to give a boost to the format with the introduction of teenage heart throb Mike Holoway as cockney tearaway, Mike Bell. Holoway was the drummer with pop band Flintlock and Price hoped that his young charge would be Britain's answer to Donny Osmond or David Cassidy. Mike is the most prominent of the Tomorrow People in later seasons, maturing from something of the TP pest (ala Kenny and Tyso) to juvenile hero. Sadly this meant the controversial decision to sack Peter Vaughn Clarke as Stephen who had been the show's original young lead. With this change, it was noticeable that John and Elizabeth took on a more parental role as both actors entered their mid 20s. Elizabeth was absent through most of season 6 to allow a pregnant Adare time off to have her baby.
With inflation out of control in the late 1970s, the budget was stretched to breaking point, a factor which was constantly on the mind of new prodcer Vic Hughes. And indeed it was a dispute over the allocation of studio days that brought down the axe in 1979 when Hughes attempted to gain an extra studio day for the planned ninth season (which fell victim to the ITV strike that summer) following numerous problems during the production of "War of the Empires" which had been only given four days in studio. There is much speculation as to what the Price penned 9th season would have been with a popular belief that it would be another sole 4 part adventure but to date the only unused script to emerge featuring the cast from seasons 7 and 8 is a two part time travel adventure.
A comic strip version, based on the original series, was also produced, written by Angus P. Allan and printed in TV comic Look-In that ran somewhat concurrently with the 1970s series. Piccolo Books also released five tie-in novels during the seventies: The Visitor (1973), Three into One (1974), Four into Three (1975), One Law (1976) and Lost Gods (1977). In 1978, there was also a children's annual.
|The Tomorrow People|
|Format||Fantasy / Drama / Sci-Fi|
|Created by||Roger Damon Price|
|Starring||Kristian Schmid, Christian Tessier, Adam Pearce, Kristen Ariza, Naomie Harris, Alexandra Milman|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||25 (List)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original run||November 18, 1992 – March 8, 1995|
Price produced the revival for Tetra Films (an independent production company, mostly comprising the former children's department at Thames Television) in association with the Thames-owned American company Reeves Entertainment for Thames and Nickelodeon between 1992 and 1995 (Central in 1994 and 1995). After some pressure from executives, Price decided to start with a blank slate and so the show was almost completely different from its predecessor. The original cast, characters, and music were not used. The new series incorporated a multi-national cast to ensure that worldwide syndication sales would be easier to obtain.
The distinctive belt buckles were omitted, as the new Tomorrow People were able to teleport without them. The non-lethal stun guns and other gadgetry were also done away with. The new Tomorrow People relied more on their wits and powers to get out of trouble.
There remain some analogies, however. The Lab was replaced by a psychic spaceship in the South Pacific to which Tomorrow People are drawn when they "break out". TIM is replaced by an ostensibly mute computer that is part of the alien ship. The visual effects were improved considerably by effects artist Clive Davis along with the sets in the new series compared to the original series.
In 2001, Big Finish Productions launched an audio series based on the original concept, produced by Nigel Fairs. Nicholas Young and Philip Gilbert reprised their roles as John and TIM, with Helen Goldwyn and Daniel Wilson appearing as Elena and Paul, the new Tomorrow People. Some releases also feature other original cast members, such as Peter Vaughan-Clarke, Elizabeth Adare and Mike Holoway (notably Trigonometry). Trevor Littledale took over the role of TIM in the audio series from The Warlock's Dance onwards after Philip Gilbert's death.
Five series were produced of the audio series before it was cancelled, due to the discontinuation of a licensing arrangement with Fremantle Media Enterprises, in December 2007. CDs of the series were permanently withdrawn from sale on 7 January 2008.
In October 2005, Fantom Films and First Time Films released the 1997 documentary about the series entitled Beyond Tomorrow. The documentary features interviews with cast members from the original series including: Nicholas Young (John), Peter Vaughan-Clarke (Stephen), Sammie Winmill (Carol), Elizabeth Adare (Liz), Dean Lawrence (Tyso), Mike Holoway (Mike) and the late Philip Gilbert.
The following year, Fantom Films released a second DVD discussing the 1990s series with writers Lee Pressman and Grant Cathro, entitled Re-inventing The Tomorrow People.