The Day of the Triffids (miniseries)
|The Day of the Triffids|
|Written by||Patrick Harbinson|
|Directed by||Nick Copus|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Running time||90 minutes / episode|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||28 December –|
29 December 2009
The Day of the Triffids is a BBC miniseries adaptation of John Wyndham's novel of the same title. The novel had previously been adapted in 1962 as a theatrical film and by the BBC in a 1981 series.
Triffids are large carnivorous plants capable of vicious and intelligent behaviour, and are equipped with venomous stingers that they use to stun and immobilise their prey before feeding on them. In the late 1970s in the jungles of Zaire, a woman is killed by a Triffid. In 2009, Bill Masen (Dougray Scott) - the son of the woman killed - is a Triffid expert and tells the story of how the oils the Triffids produce came to be used as a new alternative fuel, effectively putting an end to man-made global warming. Triffids are now kept in warehouses in countries worldwide. Some, however, protest the treatment of the plants. One of these activists (Ewen Bremner) breaks into a compound for male Triffids outside London, and is arrested. Bill is injured by an undeveloped plant in the attempt, having given his safety goggles to another worker, Lucy (Nora-Jane Noone), a security officer and friend of Bill. Lucy rushes him to a local hospital, where he is told that he has a 50–50 chance of going blind permanently. With his eyes covered in bandages, he misses witnessing a massive solar eruption which occurs that same night, the bright light of which is seen all over the world. The rays prove to be more dangerous than first thought, as they suddenly intensify to a horrific brilliance, and all those who see the flares are blinded—more than 95% of the world's population.
Meanwhile, a plane heading toward the capital is brought down when the solar storm blinds the pilots and all but one of the passengers on board. The sole sighted man (Eddie Izzard) clambers into the toilet, covers himself in life vests, and braces for the worst. The plane eventually crashes, and the man, narrowly escaping death, takes the name Torrence, after the now-destroyed Westminster road. Back at the hospital, Bill has finally regained his sight, but has no idea of how the world has changed overnight. Chaos reigns in the streets, with many of the blind now struggling to find their way. Bill finds Radio Britain personality Jo Playton (Joely Richardson) being ambushed by a throng of desperate blind citizens, who have realised that she can see, and are attempting to use her as a guide. Bill saves her from further harm. Jo was in the London Underground at the time of the solar flare, and therefore was not rendered blind. The pair teams up to find out what has happened, but Bill's only concern is the Triffids, knowing that the catastrophe must have caused the electricity at the compounds, the only thing keeping the populace safe, to go down. Bill and Jo soon spot a signal from a university tower, a message to the remaining sighted people. Upon arrival, they find that a group of surviving members of the civil service and armed forces has been assembled to continue the human race as best it can. Bill is angered by how little warning there is of the encroaching Triffids. He attempts to escape, but is captured by Coker (Jason Priestley), who uses him to round up survivors and supplies for the cause, oblivious to the disaster that is about to unfold.
Bill and Coker are nearly killed during a late-night ambush by a group of Triffids. Fearing the worst is yet to come they both travel on foot to a new religious colony run by Durrant (Vanessa Redgrave), now the Mother Superior. Despite its secluded location, Bill is aware that the Triffids may return and, to make things worse, could reproduce faster thanks to a cluster of active beehives. Bill decides to leave for Shirning, hoping to find his estranged father Dennis Masen (Brian Cox), and with it a solution to stop the Triffids. However, outside of the church he finds the lifeless body of Father Thomas, sacrificed by Durrant to the Triffids. He returns in anger, surprising Durrant, who leaves the colony, insisting that the society will collapse without her. Several days follow and Bill has continued to journey towards the house where his father lives. During the journey, he meets up with two orphaned but sighted girls Imogen (Julia Joyce) and Susan (Jenn Murray), who almost kill him with potshots in the process. The three of them journey to Shirning, but are ambushed by a mysterious figure, who reveals himself as Dennis Masen. Upon returning to Shirning House, protected from Triffid attacks by a powerful electric fence, Bill is re-united with Jo, who narrowly escaped Torrence's men the night before. Dennis reveals his plan to stop the Triffids to Bill, his intentions being to genetically engineer a new species to neutralise the old one. Though Bill finds the idea absurd, he nonetheless agrees to retrieve the last part of the experiment, a single male Triffid head.
Finding the head during a daring break into an abandoned plantation, the new Triffid proves to be a success, but at the same time Coker drops some papers off at the house, which explains the details of a new colony on the Isle of Wight, where the last of the Triffids were exterminated. However, Dennis' examination of his wife's Triffid recordings from Zaire causes the still-growing Triffid to react, attacking him with its stinger. Bill hears Dennis' cry for help and attempts to free his father, firing at the Triffid through its head. With Dennis now dead and the subject destroyed, the group has no option but to leave for the Isle of Wight. Before they can leave, Torrence turns up at the house with a group of men, looking for the solution to the Triffids, but Bill refuses to tell him the plan. Torrence threatens to kill him, Jo and the girls if he doesn't find a new plan by the next morning. Bill plans an escape, using the same recordings that killed his father earlier to draw in more Triffids to cause a distraction. Their plans are nearly thwarted by one of the soldiers, a rookie cadet named Troy (Troy Glasgow), who defects to them by faking their deaths to Torrence. The inactive fence is destroyed by the Triffid swarm, trapping everybody in the house and grounds, but one of the girls picks up an old tribal mask from Bill's old things, causing him to remember something from 30 years previously. He was told on that day by a tribesman that the mask would help him to see by being temporarily blinded by Triffid poison. Realising that this is the solution they've been looking for, he administers the treatment to himself, Jo, Troy, Susan and Imogen. It allows them to pass through the Triffids unharmed, but Torrence is eventually overwhelmed by them and dies.
The family is next seen on the Isle of Wight after settling into the colony. With the group now protected from the Triffids by the Solent, Bill still wonders about eventually returning to the mainland, and questions the moral of how the world was blind even when our eyes were open.
In November 2008, it was announced that the BBC was to film a new version of the story; the drama was screened on 28 and 29 December 2009, starring Dougray Scott as Bill Masen, Joely Richardson as Jo Playton, Brian Cox as Dennis Masen, Vanessa Redgrave as Durrant, Eddie Izzard as Torrence, Jason Priestley as Coker, Jenn Murray as Susan, Ewen Bremner as Walter Strange, Shane Taylor as Osman, Troy Glasgow as Troy, Adam Sinclair as Ashdown, Lizzie Hopley as Hilda and Julia Joyce as Imogen.
It was produced by Michael Preger, Stephen Smallwood and directed by Nick Copus (EastEnders, The 4400). The script was by Patrick Harbinson, who has also written episodes of the British dramas Soldier Soldier and Heartbeat, and the American series ER and Law & Order.
Masen then descends Cobstone Hill into Turville where the scenes in which he meets Susan and Imogen were filmed. The two girls are seen living at the Bull & Butcher, the public house of the same name in Turville.
The pub which Coker and his team take over is The Cockpit which is on St Andrew's Hill in the St Pauls area of London.
The series was released on DVD on 1 February 2010 in the United Kingdom. The Blu-ray Disc release followed on 22 February. It was shown in Canada on Showcase in February 2011 and subsequently released on DVD.
- "Press Office - The Day Of The Triffids press pack: introduction". BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
- "BBC 1 London TV Listings for 28 December 2009". UK TV Guide. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
- "The Day Of The Triffids attracts all-star cast to BBC One". BBC Press Office. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- Conlan, Tara (27 November 2008). "Day of the Triffids to be remade by BBC". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- BBC Press Releases - "The Day Of The Triffids attracts all-star cast to BBC One" Date: 11.02.2009 Category: BBC One; TV Drama
- "Ibstone windmill in Day of the Triffids". Windmill World. Retrieved 1 January 2010.