Ultraviolet (TV serial)
|Created by||Joe Ahearne|
and Philip Quast
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||300 minutes (approx.)|
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Original run||15 September 1998 – 20 October 1998|
Ultraviolet is a 1998 United Kingdom television series written and directed by Joe Ahearne and starring Jack Davenport, Susannah Harker, Idris Elba and Philip Quast. Music was composed and performed by Sue Hewitt. The programme was produced by World Productions for Channel 4.
The series follows Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield (Jack Davenport). Michael discovers that his partner Jack (Stephen Moyer) has gone missing on the night before his wedding to Kirsty (Collette Brown) with whom Michael is secretly in love. As he investigates Jack's disappearance, Michael uncovers a secret government vampire hunting squad consisting of soldier Vaughn Rice (Idris Elba), scientist Angela March (Susannah Harker), and a Catholic priest Pearse J Harman (Philip Quast). He also discovers that Jack has been turned into a vampire and ends up being recruited into the squad. Over the course of the series Michael and the vampire hunters investigate various vampire related cases, often involving medical experimentation, as they try to determine what the mysterious agenda of the vampires is. As they do so they deal with the personal consequences of their job including Michael's need to hide the truth from Kirsty, Angela's grief over her husband who was killed after he turned into a vampire, and Pearse's diagnosis of fatal lymphoma. Cases investigated involve a woman who appears to be carrying a vampire child, a man who is being used to test synthetic blood for vampires, and the outbreak of a vampire related disease at a school.
A hallmark of the series is the scientific methods used by the agents as they investigate a variety of cases. The theme of scientific methods being used to investigate the paranormal has a long history in British television (see Quatermass and the Pit and The Stone Tape). In Ultraviolet these methods allow the vampire hunters to develop modern weaponry to fend off their foes - instead of stakes, they carry automatic handguns and submachine guns with carbon bullets and specialized sights that use video cameras to differentiate between vampires and humans (vampires are invisible to recording devices); instead of wreaths of garlic, gas grenades containing concentrated allicin; instead of sunlight, lamps emitting ultraviolet light. The traditional idea of religious symbols repelling the creatures is regarded as a placebo and not relied upon. A major character describes it as "a matter of faith...on both sides." The thrall attributed to vampires is explained as chemical suggestion, a side effect of feeding. The conversion of humans into vampires is regarded as pathological infection, not demonic possession. The vampires in turn use scientific tactics, not supernatural ones. Genetic engineering plays a major role in the vampire conspiracy. They use cars with UV resistant glass for ground travel during the day, and time locked caskets for long-distance air travel. They use speech synthesis software to communicate over telephone lines.
To maintain a more modern and realistic feel the word "vampire" is never spoken in the series; the members of the organisation avoid the word, perhaps because of its superstitious connotations. The term "Code Five" is often substituted (a visual use of the Roman numeral V is the closest the series gets to citing the word "vampire"), as is the slang "leech". Notably, vampires themselves rarely appear on camera in the series and with the exception of one character those that appear do so only briefly. Investigations usually involve the team members dealing with the humans who, wittingly and unwittingly, serve vampires.
The final episode ties all the cases they have investigated together as part of the vampire conspiracy. The Code Fives will cause an environmental catastrophe resulting in a nuclear winter giving them months of darkness in which to take over. Their numbers will be boosted by a viral outbreak of vampirism and, once they have wiped out most of humanity, they will subsist on artificial blood and reproduce via live birth as opposed to infecting new members.
Episode titles 
- "Habeas Corpus"
- "In Nomine Patris"
- "Sub Judice"
- "Mea Culpa"
- "Terra Incognita"
- "Persona Non Grata"
In 2000, the American Fox Network developed an ongoing series version of Ultraviolet, starring Eric Thal, Lisa Going and Mädchen Amick and with Idris Elba reprising his role from the British series. The American version did not however progress beyond an unaired pilot episode. Howard Gordon, one of the producers contracted to develop the series, admitted in an interview that "we screwed it up and it just didn't come out that well."
The original UK version has been screened by the Sci-Fi Channel in the US. It was shown originally as a three-part miniseries (each part being two of the original episodes shown consecutively), and during some later airings all six episodes were shown in a marathon format.
- Official Ultraviolet Homepage
- Joe Ahearne explains why Ultraviolet was not continued: "Well, there are so many reasons and I don't think you can point to any one. So, in no particular order..."
- Ultraviolet at the Internet Movie Database