END OF DAYS

Life On Mars creator Matthew Gra­ham swaps time travel for a be­nign alien in­va­sion in Child­hood’s End

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Earth wel­comes its alien Over­lords as Syfy adapts Arthur C Clarke’s Child­hood’s End.

syfy’s Child­hood’s End may fea­ture an alien in­va­sion, but don’t ex­pect Roland Em­merich-sized death and de­struc­tion. Based on the ac­claimed 1953 novel by Arthur C Clarke, the six-hour minis­eries finds a benev­o­lent ex­trater­res­trial race, dubbed “the Over­lords”, step­ping in to help mankind achieve utopia. How­ever, be care­ful what you wish for be­cause there is a price.

“Apart from the ini­tial sense of fear when they ar­rive, I didn’t want to turn every­thing into global chaos,” ex­plains ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Matthew Gra­ham. “There is a bit of panic, and a bit of the army mo­bil­is­ing, but we quickly dis­pense with that be­cause we are over­whelmed by their power.”

Un­der The Dome’s Mike Vo­gel plays Ricky Stor­m­gren, a Mis­souri farmer who be­comes the li­ai­son be­tween hu­mans and the Over­lords. The ac­tor im­me­di­ately grav­i­tated to­wards some of the big­ger themes ex­plored in the script.

“In this world, you lose a lot of cre­ativ­ity and art and writ­ing,” says Vo­gel. “All those things have been spawned from pain, from ad­ver­sity… In this world every­thing is hunky dory and ev­ery­one is al­most the same. You see in the story there are those who have ac­cepted utopia, and those who are buck­ing the sys­tem and go­ing against it.”

Gra­ham’s daunt­ing goal was to cap­ture the spirit of Clarke’s clas­sic. That meant keep­ing cer­tain mo­ments in­tact. “I’m re­ally hop­ing a lot of peo­ple don’t know what the Over­lords look like,” says Gra­ham. “That’s key to the story and how we re­late to them and why they hide them­selves. I’m re­ally keen to see what peo­ple think when Karellen (Charles Dance) fi­nally comes out of the ship.”

Child­hood’s End doesn’t sugar coat Earth’s fate. There’s no happy end­ing, al­though for a fleet­ing sec­ond, Gra­ham con­sid­ered light­en­ing things up. “Bill McGoldrick, who is our boss at Syfy, at one point, said to me, ‘Are we ac­tu­ally go­ing there?’” re­calls Gra­ham. “And I said, ‘Yep. We have to go to that place. We will never be trusted again if we don’t.’

“Hav­ing just lit­er­ally watched the fi­nal cut last night, I think we man­aged to find a bal­ance,” Gra­ham con­cludes. “It is ab­so­lutely the end­ing of the book, but it doesn’t feel dev­as­tat­ing. It is not So­phie’s Choice bleak. It’s more of a po­etic sad­ness. I hope we found the right bal­ance and the au­di­ence doesn’t feel too dev­as­tated.”

Child­hood’s End pre­mieres 14 De­cem­ber on Syfy US.

One mi­cro­phone for him, and one for the in­vis­i­ble alien stand­ing next to him.

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