The Stranger (Australian TV series)

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The Stranger
Created by G K Saunders
Starring Ron Haddrick
Country of origin Australia
No. of episodes 12
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Release
Original network ABC Television
Original release 1964 – 1965

The Stranger (1964–65) was an Australian science fiction television series made for children and produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (then known as the Australian Broadcasting Commission). It is notable as Australia's first locally produced science fiction television series and one of the first Australian TV series to be sold overseas.[1]

Synopsis[edit]

A schoolmaster finds an unconscious young man on his doorstep, takes him in and looks after him. A firm friendship develops between the stranger and the headmaster's children, Bernard and Jean and their friend Peter, and this leads to them discovering the stranger's secret –- that he is from another planet and has been sent to find a new home on Earth for his people. The stranger, Adam, is joined by fellow alien, Varossa. They live in a society without books where they memorise everything. In the second series the children have to enlist the help of the Australian Prime Minister when Peter is kidnapped by the alien, and a procession of intrigues eventually leads them to the aliens' home planet of Soshuniss.

Production[edit]

The Stranger was written by New Zealand-born author G.K. Saunders, produced by Storry Walton and directed by Gil Brealey, with production design by Geoffrey Wedlock. Two series of six episodes each were produced in 1964 and 1965. It was a major hit in Australia and was sold to the BBC.[2]

The series starred leading stage and radio actor Ron Haddrick as "The Stranger", Adam Suisse; the children were played by Janice Dinnen and Bill Levis as Jean and Bernard Walsh and Michael Thomas as their friend Peter Cannon. The supporting cast included Jessica Noad as Mrs Walsh, John Fraser as Mr Walsh, Owen Weingott as Professor Mayer, Chips Rafferty as the Prime Minister and Reg Livermore as Varossa, with Henry Gilbert, John Faasen, Bill Levey and British actor Grant Taylor—who, coincidentally, had a recurring role as Gen. Henderson in the Gerry Anderson science fiction series UFO.[3]

The series was also notable for the fact that Saunders devised a special language that the aliens spoke amongst themselves and, like later science fiction series such as Babylon 5, they spoke English with a 'foreign' accent; in the story this leads to the children's initial assumption that the alien character, "Adam", is from Switzerland (hence his surname).

The alien saucer was designed with cooperation from the CSIRO; in the climactic scene it descended from the sky and landed on the steps of the Sydney Town Hall, where the aliens were greeted by the Prime Minister, played by veteran Australian screen star Chips Rafferty.[4]

All episodes are held by the National Archives of Australia.

Book version[edit]

Over a decade after the series was produced, Saunders wrote a book adaptation which was published by Whitcomb & Tombs in 1978. A copy resides in the collection of the National Library of Australia.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "KIDS!— You can't fool them.". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 29 April 1964. p. 15. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Tony Harrison, The Australian Film and Television Companion (Sydney: Simon & Schuster, 1994, ISBN 0-7318-0455-4), p. 324
  3. ^ IMDb – The Stranger
  4. ^ History of the ABC – The 1960s, p.2-3 (.pdf document)
  5. ^ National Library of Australia – Catalogue search – The Stranger by G.K. Saunders

External links[edit]