Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

A for Andromeda



A for Andromeda
Following the success of the adult science fiction TV series based on Professor Bernard Quatermass, the BBC decided to commission another adult sci-fi project and approached Fred Hoyle, a professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy at Cambridge University, who had penned science-fiction novels such as 'The Black Cloud' and 'Ossian’s Ride'.
He agreed and created an original story, which he dictated onto a tape recorder, and John Elliott then dramatised it for television. There were seven 45-minute monochrome episodes originally screened from December 3rd 1961 to November 14th 1961: The Message; The Machine; The Miracle; The Monster; The Murderer; Face of the Tiger; The Last Mystery. The final episode was 50 minutes in length.


The series begins in the year 1970, when a new giant radio telescope is opened. The staff, making routine checks, discover a series of signals, received from the Andromeda constellation, which have taken two hundred years to reach Earth. A special team is then set up at a rocket-testing base in Thorness, a stretch of coast in the Western Isles, and ‘Project Andromeda’ is underway. The Ministry of Defence has attempted to keep the entire project secret but one of the team, Dennis Bridger, informs an organisation called Intel which seeks to steal it for its own ends, but he falls to his death from a cliff when pursued by a government agent who has been trailing him.

John Fleming, a young scientist who initially seems to be the only one to understand what the message from Andromeda is, reveals: “It’s a do-it-yourself kit - and it isn’t human”. The alien message comprises a system of dots and dashes which Fleming eventually solves. They are instructions to build a computer far in advance of anything known on Earth.
When the team is joined by biologist Madeline Dawnay, she realises that the computer intends to create a biological being as it begins to outline instructions to construct living cells. It then develops a human embryo which is deformed and which they name ‘Cyclops.’
A young lab assistant Christine is electrocuted when she touches two terminals and the computer then destroys ‘Cyclops’ and creates another creature which is a duplicate of Christine.

The team refer to the Christine creature as Andromeda and Fleming wants her destroyed as he believes she is a danger to the human race. His suspicions are confirmed when she reveals to the team: "Our intelligence is going to take over and yours is going to die. You'll go the way of the dinosaurs." However, the military use the advance information from the computer and Andromeda to develop a weapon to destroy enemy missiles. They also agree to sell an enzyme which heals injured cells, created by Andromeda, to the sinister Intel organisation.

The team attempt to place a message in the computer suggesting that Andromeda is dead, but the computer seeks to take revenge by altering the formula for the enzyme, making Dawnay and her team sick. Fleming develops an enzyme to cure them. Andromeda has a mental link with the computer, but is developing human traits and falls in love with Fleming, who destroys the computer and frees Andromeda from its influence.


Andromeda is then able to burn all the information which the computer had sent and the two of them flee the project and hide in a series of caves on an island near the base. Andromeda appears to have drowned in a pool while soldiers capture Fleming and return him to the base.

Face of the TigerAssociated Rediffusion StudiosAround The Beatles 1964

 
Season Finale: The Last Mystery
The series was produced by Michael Hayes and Norman Jones and featured Julie Christie as Christine/Andromeda with Peter Halliday as Fleming and Mary Morris as Dr. Dawnay. It was decided that the role of Andromeda should be played by an unknown actress and director Hayes heard of Julie Christie, who was studying at the Central School of Speech and drama and was rumoured to be ‘the new Bardot.’ Like many early BBC series, the episodes were not retained in any archive. All that remain are film sequences from episode two and the last two reels of episode seven.

Sixties City note:
The Radio Times dated 30th September 1961 previewed the series as follows:
A For Andromeda by Peter Browne. A new science-fiction series is an exciting prospect at any time. When it is backed by the authority of a scientist with the international reputation of Fred Hoyle, Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University, it ranks as a major television event.
A For Andromeda, which begins tonight, has the special distinction of being soundly based on mathematical possibility. Set in the near future, it opens as a group of scientists working with a powerful new radio-telescope pick up a strange message from outer space - from the constellation Andromeda.

In six succeeding forty-five-minute episodes, played out against the stark background of a remote stretch of coast in the Western Isles, the dramatic story tells of the impact of an alien intelligence upon life on earth, and of the ruthless pursuit by rival factions of a secret on which the future of mankind may depend.

Fred Hoyle has established himself as a novelist as well as a scientist with two much-praised science-fiction books, The Black Cloud and Ossian's Ride. The original story of A For Andromeda was dictated on to a tape-recorder and then dramatised for television by John Elliot. The series has an exceptionally authentic flavour, for in addition to Hoyle's unparalleled knowledge of his subject, producers Michael Hayes and Norman James have been able to enlist the cooperation of the computer and aircraft manufacturing industries, the Army and the R.A.F.

An outstanding cast includes Edmond Knight, Mary Morris, Noel Johnson, Maurice Hedley and Patricia Kneale. Peter Halliday, whom many viewers will remember in Stress Point and The Train Set, plays John Fleming, the brilliant young scientist whose discovery reveals that it can be dangerous to extend the frontiers of human knowledge too far, too quickly…


also see 'The Andromeda Breakthrough'





Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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