The Tomorrow People
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The Tomorrow People is a British children's science fiction television series, created by Roger Price. Produced by Thames Television for the ITV Network, the series first ran from 1973 to 1979. A remake appeared in 1992, with Roger Price acting as executive producer. This version used the same basic premise as the original series with some changes, and ran until 1995. A series of audio plays using the original concept and characters (and many of the original series' actors) was produced by Big Finish Productions between 2001 and 2007. In 2013, an American remake of the show premiered on The CW. It is shown on e4 in the UK.
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 special paranormal abilities. These abilities include psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. However, their psychological make-up prevents them from intentionally killing others.
Original series (1970s)
|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||30 April 1973 – 19 February 1979|
The original series was produced by Thames Television for ITV. The Tomorrow People operate out of a secret base, The lab, built in an abandoned London Underground station. The lab was revamped at the beginning of Series 6. The team watches for new Tomorrow People "breaking out" to help them through the process and sometimes deal with attention from extraterrestrial species as well as facing more earthbound dangers. They also have connections with the "Galactic Federation" which oversees the welfare of telepathic species throughout the galaxy. In addition to their psychic powers, they use advanced technology such as the biological (called in the series "biotronic") 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 referred to as jaunting in the programme. The team used jaunting belts up to the end of Series 5, after which they used much smaller wristbands.
In the original series, the Tomorrow People are also referred to as Homo superior. This is the term that comics writer Stan Lee has his Magneto character use to refer to mutants in X-Men #1, 1963. The same term later appeared in David Bowie's 1971 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 when 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 by Thames TV in 1973. Price has sometimes been quoted as saying that the lyrics to this song were inspired by the series, not the other way around.
Alistair McGown of Screen Online cites the book The Mind in Chains by Dr Christopher Evans as a primary source. Evans also became a scientific advisor for the series. He would be credited as such on every single episode but most people working on the show seem to recall that he only had involvement in the first couple of series. McGown 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", an abbreviation of Homo sapiens) will either fear or victimise 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 due to their genetic unwillingness to kill, referred to as the "prime barrier". In early series they would have the aid of "Sap" friends such as Ginge, Lefty and Chris who would usually handle the rougher stuff that the pacifist TPs could not deal with. Also in the second and third series they become friendly with a psychic researcher named Professor Cawston who assisted them and vice versa.
Price initially offered the format to Granada but was turned down so offered it to Lewis Rudd at Thames Television who commissioned a 13-episode series, having seen the potential of the format. At this time, ITV was keen to find its own answer to Doctor Who although Price never really envisaged the show as such but more as an outlet for his own personal ideas and beliefs. Very early on, Ruth Boswell was brought in as associate producer and script editor as she had experience of children's fantasy drama (Timeslip and Tightrope) while TV dramatist Brian Finch was hired to co-write the scripts in view of the fact that Price had little experience of writing drama. Thames enlisted the services of Doctor Who director Paul Bernard to help set up and oversee the first series. He would be credited as director for two stories but was unofficially a third producer. Bernard was very heavily involved in the creation of the memorable title sequence which involved a mixture of haunting images and facial shots of the main cast zooming towards the camera in monochrome, with an eerie theme tune from Dudley Simpson playing behind. He got inspiration from seeing billboards rushing towards him when driving. Amongst them were a human foetus, shadowy figures behind scaffolding and even the insides of a bell pepper (a somewhat exotic fruit in the UK in the 1970s).
Nicholas Young was cast as the group's leader, John, while Peter Vaughan-Clarke was offered the role of Stephen after Price saw him in a Manchester rendition of Peter Pan with Lulu. Ruth Boswell wanted Lynn Frederick (later the last wife of Peter Sellers) for Carol, the female lead, but following a meeting with her, Paul Bernard felt she was a bit too upper-class and precious for what he had in mind as he saw the character as being similar to Doctor Who's Jo Grant. They finally settled on Sammie Winmill who was relatively well-known for playing Nurse Crumpton on the popular Doctor at Large situation comedy (also a Thames production). The role of Kenny, the youngest TP, was given to Stephen Salmon after he had been discovered in a drama workshop while theatre actor Phillip Gilbert was selected to provide the paternal tones of biotronic computer TIM. Making up the team were two Sap friends, a couple of bikers called Ginge (Michael Standing) and Lefty (Derek Crewe) who encounter the Tomorrow People when acting as henchmen for the villainous shape-shifter Jedikiah in the opening adventure. Stephen would be very much the show's hero and focus for the audience while John was something of an authoritarian figure who took his responsibilities for the species' future and welfare very seriously. Early publicity included a photo session of the cast with the Doctor Who star, Jon Pertwee to indicate a friendly rivalry between the two shows.
Even for the time, the special effects of the original show were considered sub-par, largely attributable to the show's small budget. Series one's recurring villain, Jedikiah, was originally devised to be a long-running foe but after seeing the poorly-designed robot that was the shape-changer's true form, an unimpressed Price elected not to use the character again until the finale of series three which was planned at the time as the series' finale (the robotic form noticeably fails to appear). Despite this, the series proved popular with its young audience who watched in large numbers, even denting the figures for the popular BBC magazine programme, Blue Peter.
The success of the first series saw another thirteen episodes go into production, but with a number of changes. Off-screen, both Bernard and Finch departed leaving Price to take more control as writer, director and producer, while on-screen Kenny and Carol disappeared (sent to the Galactic Federation's headquarters The Trig to work as ambassadors for Earth). Salmon was simply not asked back as there was a feeling the character had failed to work, while Winmill's departure was voluntary. In their place came student school teacher Elizabeth M'Bondo, portrayed by Elizabeth Adare. Adare initially thought her character was to be a teenage girl and made every effort at her audition to look and act like an adolescent. However Price and Boswell were suitably impressed to change the Elizabeth character so that she breaks out at an older age due to a latent puberty. Elizabeth is uncovered by Stephen when working at his school. This was the start of a near annual event where a new TP would be introduced in the first story of each series, a handy way of maintaining interest for returning viewers and a convenient way for Price to re-establish the basic premise of the show for new audiences every year.
Filming of Series 2 began in late 1973 with Michael Standing returning as Ginge, but on the first day he fell off his motorbike and broke his leg, prompting a speedy rewrite whereby Ginge's younger brother, Chris (Chris Chittell), was now seen as the new Sap regular. Chris was mentioned in the dialogue as already being known to the Tomorrow People, so little in the way of changes had to be made to the script. Ginge's absence was explained on-screen by his having been admitted to hospital following a fall from his motorbike – reflecting Standing's real-life accident.
In 1975, the third series added Dean Lawrence as gypsy Tyso Boswell. Chris disappears after only appearing in one episode (his absence is never explained) while telepathic secret agent Tricia Conway appears in two stories before fully breaking out in the series climax which saw the young heroes menaced by old rival, Jedikiah. This series also saw the group visit an alien world for the first time when the Galactic Trig dispatches them to help the telepathic population of the planet Peerie. A comedy script was attempted in the much-derided "A Man for Emily" as Price was keen to get more into humorous writing. The negative backlash to this experiment resulted in a planned sequel story being quietly dropped but such actions added to Price's increasing frustration with the show. Phillip Gilbert also made the first of several on-screen appearances as Timus Irnok Mosta, an ambassador from the Galactic Federation who had a hand in building TIM thus sounding alike. Timus was a clone and his brother, Tikno also appears. They would make semi-regular appearances until the final story in 1979.
As the programme continued, Price became tired of his creation and attempted to end it by killing off the leads at the conclusion to Series 3 (Ruth Boswell made him rewrite it so that they survived). However Thames Television had a ratings winner (as well as excellent overseas sales) and insisted he continue the programme, albeit in shorter, staggered series from now on. Price only ever allowed one attempt by another writer to work on it solo, with John E. Watkins penning the story "Into the Unknown" broadcast in early 1976. Having fewer episodes to write, Price would have more time to work on his comedic and light-entertainment productions which he enjoyed more than the demanding sci-fi drama. At the start of the fourth series he attempted to give a boost to the format with the introduction of teenage idol Mike Holoway as 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. Although Series 4 features five Tomorrow People, this later led to the decision to sack Vaughan-Clarke as Stephen, who is not given a leaving scene at the end of Series 4. With this change, it was noticeable that John and Elizabeth took on a more parental role as both actors entered their mid-20s. Tyso also vanished after the fourth year but his character had been mostly redundant for some time due to not having been written into scripts that year. His late inclusion was only addressed a couple of weeks before filming started when Price discovered from Lawrence that he was still available to appear in the programme. This meant Tyso only had limited screen time and very few lines.
Vic Hughes took over as producer for Series 5, which began transmission in early 1977 and was the only series not to introduce a new Tomorrow person. All three adventures were two-parters which allowed Price to write them quickly and remove any unwanted excess padding which tended to slow down the action.
1978 saw changes being made, starting with Elizabeth's absence through most of Series 6 due to Elizabeth Adare's pregnancy (on screen Elizabeth is working on diplomatic missions for the Galactic Federation). In her place came Hsui Tai, played by Japanese actress Misako Koba, whose poor grasp of English made her hard to understand and Nicholas Young later recalled that he and other actors found this difficult during production. A new Lab set was introduced with a smaller but now mobile TIM and the jaunting belts were replaced by jaunting bands (worn on the wrists). These changes were forced on the production team following a fire at the Thames storerooms. The new Lab acted as both base and home for the Tomorrow People as they were now seen to be sleeping in their own cabins there.
Series 7 in late 1978 introduced another Tomorrow person in the form of young Scottish lad Andrew Forbes (Nigel Rhodes). He is using his psychic powers to conjure up images of ghosts so as to provide a tourism attraction for the hotel owned by his father. Elizabeth also returned.
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 producer Vic Hughes. A dispute over the allocation of studio days ended the show in 1979 when Hughes attempted to gain an extra studio day for the planned ninth series (which fell victim to the ITV strike that summer) following numerous problems during the production of "War of the Empires" (the sole four-part adventure that made up series eight) which had been given only four days in studio. By this point Price had emigrated to America and Thames were reluctant to carry on without him.
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- TIM (voice of Philip Gilbert) is a biological computer, programmed with an artificially created intelligence, whose tubes are filled with bio-fluid. He was partially built by John, the leader of the Tomorrow People, and was given to them by the Galactic Council. TIM is housed in The Lab, situated in a disused station in the London Underground. TIM often helps out the Tomorrow People by providing vital information which the telepaths can use in their current adventure. Tim's voice is identical to that of diplomat Timus Irnok Mosta from the Galactic Federation.
- John (Nicholas Young) - Aged 17, John is the leader of the Tomorrow People. He is an inventor and scientist. He built The Lab and the biological computer, TIM, with some help from the Galactic Council. John was the first Tomorrow Person to "break out" and had no guidance through the process.
- Carol (Sammie Winmill) - Along with John and Kenny, Carol had been monitoring Stephen, as he had been unconsciously tuning into their thoughts, via telepathy. When Stephen collapses and is taken to hospital, John sends Carol to help him "break out".
- Kenny (Stephen Salmon), at 12, is the youngest of the original four Tomorrow People. According to Carol, he "broke out" when he was very young. He is always left behind to look after The Lab.
- Stephen Jameson (Peter Vaughan-Clarke) is the first Tomorrow Person to "break out" on screen. At first he finds it hard to believe that he is a Tomorrow Person, but soon comes to accept this. Like other Tomorrow People, Stephen possesses various psychic abilities. The primary powers of all telepaths are "jaunting", the ability to instantaneously transport oneself from one place to another, telepathy, the ability to read the minds of other Tomorrow People and telekinesis, the ability to move objects with the power of the mind.
- The Spidron (John Woodnutt) is an evil alien that resembles a large plant that comes to Earth to mine a rare mineral directly from the core, which would destroy the earth in the process.
- Jedikiah (Francis de Wolff and Roger Bizley) is "a fierce, shape-changing alien robot," initially seen (in "The Slaves of Jedikiah") in the service of the "Cyclops" (later discovered to be 'Ranesh'), who uses Jedikiah to capture the Tomorrow People in an effort to use their psi powers to enable the Cyclops' damaged ship to return home. By the end of the serial, Jedikiah had been damaged and jettisoned into space. By the time he is recovered (in "The Medusa Strain"), 500 years had passed, and the damage caused to Jedikiah in the previous story, coupled with this long isolation, had driven the robot insane, possessing a pathological hatred of the Tomorrow People. He has since devoted his existence to their destruction.
- Elizabeth M’Bondo – Elizabeth Adare
- Tyso Boswell – Dean Lawrence
- Patricia Conway – Anne Curthoys
- Mike Bell – Mike Holoway
- Pavla Vlasova – Anulka Dubynska
- Hsui Tai – Misako Koba
- Andrew Forbes – Nigel Rhodes
- Peter -Richard Speight - Peter is a Telepath from the 26th century, who refers to the current Tomorrow People as Homo novus (New man). Appearing as a teenaged boy, it is later revealed that he is 163 years old.
- Zenon – Stephen Jack
- Ginger ‘Ginge’ Harding – Michael Standing
- Lefty – Derek Crewe
- Chris Harding – Chris Chittell
- Professor Cawston – Bryan Stanyon
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 Three (1974), Four into Three (1975), One Law (1976) and Lost Gods (1977). In 1978, there was also a children's annual. "The Visitor" was written before production began on the series and offers a glimpse of some of the original ideas for the show that never made it. Namely the Tomorrow People contact TIM via wrist communicators as the computer is non-telepathic while the characters of Ginge and Lefty are portrayed as much younger characters than they were on screen. Also the Lab is accessed from the back of a regular Tube station.
|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||18 November 1992 – 8 March 1995|
Price produced the 1990s revival of The Tomorrow People 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 compared to the original series, along with sets.
The lead role of Adam Newman was given to Australian actor Kristian Schmid, who at the time was famous in the UK for his regular role in Neighbours. The other original stars were American Kristen Ariza as Lisa Davies, British boy Adam Pearce (who had no previous acting experience) as Kevin Wilson and Canadian Christian Tessier as Kevin's American friend Marmaduke "Megabyte" Damon. The 1992 season consisted of a single five-part story written by Price, which had no on-screen title but was named as "The Origin Story" in the DVD release. Adam is newly broken out as the series begins with Lisa and Kevin breaking out simultaneously in the first episode. Megabyte also breaks out in the last episode of the story. This was the longest story since "The Blue and the Green" in the second season of the 70s show and as a result there was more of the comedy setpieces which had been minimised in the later seasons of the earlier show. The plotline borrowed heavily from the 1975 story "Secret Weapon", even reusing the name of that story's villain Colonel Masters, and involved the intelligence services pursuing the Tomorrow People in order to use them for their own ends. The story also introduced Jeff Harding as Megabyte's father General Damon, an American officer stationed in the United Kingdom, who became a regular ally to the Tomorrow People.
The second season was filmed in 1993 and began transmitting in January 1994, with Price now credited as executive producer and the writing handed over to Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman, who had previously experience writing CITV's other children's fantasy series T-Bag and Mike and Angelo. The seasons were expanded to ten episodes, comprising two five-part stories. Cathro and Pressman plotted the stories together then scripted one each (for the second season they were credited as co-writers, for the third they were only credited on the story they scripted). They chose to power down the Tomorrow People slightly, since the first story had shown Lisa reviving from the dead at one point. The lengthy scenes on the island where the ship was located from the first season were dropped, with the ship exterior only seen in stock establishing shots and the Tomorrow People now teleporting directly into the ship when they broke out rather than the ocean around it.
Lisa was dropped without explanation and Kevin's role was severely reduced, with him only appearing in three episodes of the first story and spending most of his time comatose before also being dropped with no explanation. As a result, the series now focused on Adam and Megabyte, two characters who had not interacted in the first season, and their relationship soon mirrored than between John and Stephen in the original series. Breaking out in the opening episode of the season was Ami Jackson, played by Naomie Harris. Her mother, played by Sally Sagoe, would have small roles in the remaining stories, initially trying to stop Ami spending time with the Tomorrow People before accepting her need to use her powers to help others. The first story of the second season, "The Culex Experiment", guest starred Jean Marsh as the villainous Doctor Culex.
The third season debuted the following year: The opening story, "The Ramases Connection", guest starred Christopher Lee as lead villain Sam Rees/Ramases. It saw the first example of the phrase "breaking out" being used and of the Tomorrow People's powers being blocked, when Ramases prevents Adam from teleporting, both key features of the 70s show. The second story, "The Living Stones", only featured Ami in a small role in the first episode, with her absence explained as her being on holiday with her mother. Instead, Jade Weston, a minor character from "The Culex Experiment" played by Alexandra Milman, was brought back to accompany Adam and Megabyte and broke out as a Tomorrow Person in the last episode. This story featured the first use of aliens in the 90s series, as the Tomorrow People battled a group of alien spores which had crashed near a village and possessed most of the villagers. Shortly after this, it was announced that the show would not be returning for a fourth season.
In 2001, Big Finish Productions launched a series of new audio plays based on the original series, produced by Nigel Fairs. Nicholas Young and Philip Gilbert reprised their roles as John and TIM, with Helen Goldwyn and James 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 in 2004.
Five series were produced of the audio series. It was cancelled in December 2007 because of the discontinuation of a licensing arrangement with Fremantle Media Enterprises. CDs of the series were permanently withdrawn from sale on 7 January 2008. However, the CDs are often still available from online sellers such as Amazon and E-bay, and at science fiction conventions.
2013 American series
In November 2012, Deadline.com announced that Julie Plec and Greg Berlanti had obtained the rights to The Tomorrow People and commissioned a pilot written by Phil Klemmer. This occurred after a similar rights option expired to an aborted attempt two years previously.
It was announced on 28 January 2013 that the revival had received a pilot order from the The CW Television Network. On 21 February 2013 it was announced the Australian actor Luke Mitchell was cast for the pilot as John Young.
The pilot was picked up as a series on 9 May 2013. It currently airs on Wednesdays in the 9:00 pm Eastern/8:00 pm Central timeslot following Arrow. Beginning on 17 March 2014, The Tomorrow People moves to a permanent Monday night time slot.
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 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.
- "The Tomorrow People: Set 3 : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "The Tomorrow People - Set 2 : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- ""You must be joking" In conversation with Roger Damon Price". Jackie Clark.
- Screen Online
- "The Slaves of Jedikiah: Part 1". The Tomorrow People. Season 1. Episode 1. 1973-04-30. ITV. ITV1.
- "The Slaves of Jedikiah, Part 2". The Tomorrow People. Season 1. Episode 2. 1973-05-07. ITV. ITV1.
- Roger Fulton, The Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction (Boxtree, 1990), 449.
- "The Medusa Strain, Part 1". The Tomorrow People. Season 1. Episode 7. 1973-06-11. ITV. ITV1.
- "A Rift in Time, Part 1: Vase of Mystery". The Tomorrow People. Season 1. Episode 7. 1974-03-11. ITV. ITV1.
- "Bigfinish press release". 2007-12-19.
- Nellie Andreeva. "Greg Berlanti & Julie Plec To Produce CW Adaptation Of UK Show ‘Tomorrow People’". Deadline.com.
- Roth Cornet. "CW Greenlights The Originals and Tomorrow People, Sci-Fi Series from Arrow and The Vampire Diaries Creators". ign.com.
- Kenneally, Tim (9 May 2013). "CW picks up 'Tomorrow People,' '100,' 'Star-Crossed,' 'Reign'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Beyond Tomorrow documentary page". Fantom Films.
- "Re-inventing The Tomorrow People documentary page". Fantom Films.
- 1973 series
- The Tomorrow People at AllMovie
- The Tomorrow People at the Internet Movie Database
- The Tomorrow People at TV.com
- 1992 series
- The Tomorrow People at the Internet Movie Database
- The Tomorrow People at TV.com
- 2013 series
- The Tomorrow People at the Internet Movie Database
- The Tomorrow People at TV.com