Posts Tagged ‘conspiracy theories’

Alternative 3 (Chris Miles, 1977)

31 March 2009

Spoof documentary fronted by former newscaster Tim Brinton (who died last week), which investigates a number of missing scientists. Initially it had been assumed to be part of the brain drain to America, but no trace is found of some of them, and others have died in accidents. The evidence points to something to do with global warming, and may be answered by a mysterious magnetic tape.

The third alternative to dealing with global warming – this at a point when the theory was clearly in its infancy – was to get a group of experts and the intelligentsia together and send them to Mars, a Mars not thought not only to be inhabitable, but inhabited. The documentary concludes with footage shot on Mars, supposedly in 1962.

The programme began as a commissioned play on a topic of his choice for David Ambrose, and he had an idea about missing scientists. It was Chris Miles who provided the notion of Mars, from his spouse’s copy of Paris Match which featured Viking lander pictures on the cover. The rest wrote itself – although Anglia tv were reluctant to let it be made. Initially it was to be shown on April 1 1977, but it was put bag to June 20. Some of the press let the cat out of the bag, the other played ball and then cranked up the outrage as people rang to complain.

This is in a direct line with Orson Welles’s The War of the Worlds and the Panorama segment on growing spaghetti. Ambrose clearly wanted to make a serious point about global warming, and the programme was shown around the world. It cleverly puts together acted and stock footage, doctoring documentary and degrading film stock.

A book followed, and apparently thirty years of speculation that they were onto the truth, which Anglia were covering up by printing a cast list at the end.