Bar­rier to suc­cess

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Paul Kirkley

re­leased OUT NOW! 1970 | U | dvd Cre­ator ruth Boswell Cast Ch­eryl Bur­field, spencer Banks, denis Quil­ley, Iris rus­sell

Con­ceived, in the words of cre­ator Ruth Boswell, as As­so­ci­ated Tele­vi­sion’s more “down to earth” ri­val to Doc­tor Who, this fondly re­mem­bered chil­dren’s sci-fi saga ar­rived just as the Time Lord him­self swapped space and time for ex­ile in the Home Coun­ties.

Though the cen­tral con­ceit of two teenagers dis­ap­pear­ing through a time por­tal is pure Nar­nia fan­tasy – with the wardrobe re­placed by a hole in some MOD fenc­ing – ef­forts were made to give the show a cov­er­ing of sci­en­tific le­git­i­macy: Cam­bridge as­tronomer Fred Hoyle lent his son Ge­of­frey as se­ries con­sul­tant, while the first two sto­ries were in­tro­duced by ITV sci­ence cor­re­spon­dent Peter Fair­ley.

Ch­eryl Bur­field and Spencer Banks are en­gag­ing leads, while stage and screen vet­eran Denis Quil­ley in­jects wel­come grav­i­tas as chief an­tag­o­nist Traynor.

Run­ning to 26 episodes (only one of which still ex­ists in colour) across four time-hop­ping se­ri­als, it proves bet­ter at re­cre­at­ing 1940 than it does an­tic­i­pat­ing 1990, where ev­ery­one wears sil­ver jump­suits in­stead of flares and beanie hats.

Dra­mat­i­cally en­gag­ing – if a lit­tle over-earnest – it’s a se­ries that re­sists talk­ing down to its young au­di­ence, in­tro­duc­ing big ideas like cloning and cli­mate change years ahead of their time. To­day’s kids would no doubt balk at the gla­cial pace of such stagey, largely stu­dio-bound fare, but this hand­some box set isn’t aimed at them – it’s aimed at cult telly fans of a cer­tain vin­tage, who’ll find much to trea­sure in this slip back to a less so­phis­ti­cated, but not less in­tel­li­gent age.

Ex­tras High­lights in­clude Be­hind The Bar­rier, an ex­cel­lent fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary, a fan-made mini-episode, and a fea­turette which re­turns the cast to the lo­ca­tion. You also get footage from a 2007 con­ven­tion, PDFs of scripts and pro­duc­tion pa­per­work, text fea­tures, and a gallery. The set also comes with a lim­ited edi­tion 128-page se­ries guide by TV his­to­rian An­drew Pix­ley.

In 2015, Spencer Banks and Ch­eryl Bur­field re­sumed their Timeslip roles for a cameo in the film Ami­tyville Play­house.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tin­ued in the play­room takeover bid.

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