The Boy from Space (1971) - Episode 10: In the Space-ship

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This page is about the original, black-and-white version of The Boy from Space broadcast in the early 1970s. No recordings of this version are believed to exist, and the guide below is based on the original camera script, plus pamphlets and other surviving records.

There is a separate page about the revised 1980s version of this episode, which is available on DVD, and notes below explaining the differences.

Studio recording: Friday 19 November 1971, 12:00am in studio TC5 First broadcast: Tuesday 30 November 1971, 10:26am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 30 November 1973, 10:00am on BBC1 BBC Genome listing: fcc0183578... BBC programme number: ESB1019B

Teaching Section

I haven't read the scripts to episodes 9 or 10 (as I ran out of time at the Written Archives).

According to the 1972 teacher's notes the phonics content of this episode included

  • magic e words with i- like 'inside,' 'shine' and 'meteorite',
  • word families with -ou- as in 'look-out,' 'about' and 'sound'
  • word families with -ay as in 'may' and 'away'
  • the numbers 1 to 4 in both words and figures.

In the studio Charles likely used a large model of the space-ship controls made out of a cardboard tube with sections of a slightly larger tube strung around it to represent the control wheels.

A space-ship control model from the teacher's notes.

For the end of the story he also likely had a 'night frieze,' a black background with shapes pasted on top to show the silhouettes of trees and buildings with small coloured windows.


Helen is marched towards the look-out platform at gunpoint.

Dan is inside the space-ship but cannot hear what Tom and Mr Bunting are saying behind the invisible window.

Peep-peep uses his writing ring to give Dan instructions on how to release the window. Peep-peep writes backwards on his side of the window, and Dan can read it the right way round from his side.

Peep-peep's writing

As the thin space-man enters the space-ship with Helen he is rushed by the freed grown-ups and Peep-peep's father forces the space-gun from his hands.

The thin space-man is marched away by Peep-peep's father as Dan, Helen, Tom and Mr Bunting are reunited.

Tom and Mr Bunting have been able to find out the whole story of what has happened. A flashback shows that the space-men were journeying home from Mars when the thin man decided he wanted all of the meteorites they had collected for himself and attacked Peep-peep and his father. The controls were upset and the space-ship fell to Earth.

Peep-peep's father locks the thin space-man in the meteorite room.

Mr Bunting is shown a clear plastic bag that the space-men had found on a previous trip to Earth. They learned to write from the bag - but it was inside out.

The humans leave the space-ship and Peep-peep says goodbye to Dan and Helen from the look-out platform. Dan offers his compass as a parting gift.

Peep-peep and Dan say goodbye.

Dan, Helen, Tom and Mr Bunting all watch the space-ship climb back into the sky from the children's little hut.

Differences from the 1980 programme

There is no mid-episode break indicated anywhere in any edition of the 1970s pupil's pamphlet, and so it is very likely that the story in this final episode was not split. Rather, the first half of the episode will have been made up of teaching material introduced by Charles, and then the entire second half of the episode will have shown the denouement of the story. This was a common structure for the final episode of a Look and Read serial in the 1960s and 70s, which was only replaced by the 'story - teaching middle - story' structure, with no difference in structure between the finale and the other episodes, in 1978's Sky Hunter.

The timings of the film story in this episode:

1971 version 1980 version
Story Part 1 Approx. 10:10 3:03
Story Part 2 - 5:18
Total Approx. 10:10 8:21

Source: 1971 PasB which lists 381 feet of sound film; 1980 episode recordings

The studio scripts normally recorded the duration of the drama film due to be played in. In this case the 1980 script on file with the BBC does not have a record of the duration of the first part of the story (the duration is recorded as "?"), and the second part is recorded as 6:13 although it is not entirely clear whether this is meant to include the closing credits as well.

The 1971 film story in this episode was approximately 1:49 longer than the surviving 1980 version. This brings the total difference in the film duration between the two versions of The Boy from Space to approximately 15 minutes.

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