The Boy from Space (1971) - Episode 6: Where is Tom?

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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 15 October 1971, 6:15pm in studio TC5 Edited: Tuesday 19 October 1971 First broadcast: Tuesday 2 November 1971, 10:25am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 26 October 1973, 10:00am on BBC1 BBC Genome listing: 73b358579d... BBC programme number: ESB1015A

Story Part 1

Mr Bunting tries to get his car started, and Peep-peep seems very worried.

Helen and Dan are also worried not to have heard anything and they telephone the hospital, but the receptionist tells them that Mr Bunting has not arrived.

Mr Bunting is pleased to see Tom's car pulling up behind them, but puzzled when the thin space-man gets out carrying his space-gun.

The thin man carrying his space-gun

Teaching Middle

We will find out later what will happen to Mr Bunting and Peep-peep, but afterwards viewers might like to write their own story about what they think could happen next.

Charles reminds us of the word Mr Bunting uses when he thinks something's really marvellous: 'splendid!' At the table he has a printing set of wooden blocks with raised letters on them, and some words he has already printed out. He has printed 'in danger,' and when he looks at the letter blocks that he used the letters are all back to front, like Peep-peep's writing. He demonstrates by printing from a letter block to show it producing a letter, and prints out an 'e' and a 'd' next to each other.

A printing set as illustrated in the teacher's notes

An animation follows about adding -ed to words like 'melted' and 'pointed,' and how these sound different, or "stronger," than other words like 'looked' and 'telephoned,' and a deadly word-eater is after them. Charles suggests reading back through today's chapter after the programme to find different types of -ed words.

He has a further suggestion for an activity and shows drawings of a car, a space-ship and a space-man which he unfolds to reveal mirror images of each picture. He explains how to make these pictures by painting on one side of a piece of paper and folding it over while it is still wet, making a picture which goes the other way round.

He explains how a reflecting telescope uses a mirror to make the stars look bigger, then uses the space-machine to split the word 'telescope,' keeping the 'tele' part to make new words 'telephone,' 'telegram' and 'television.'

Charles reminds us that Dan and Helen had been waiting at the observatory for a long time and were getting worried, and we read the story from the screen.

Story Part 2

Mr Bunting is excited to meet a space-man, but becomes alarmed when the man uses his space-gun to order Peep-peep out of the car, discards the book he is holding, and marches both Bunting and Peep-peep away into the woods. The man then uses his space-gun to destroy both cars.

At the observatory Helen and Dan are getting more and more worried about space-men taking over the Earth. Helen tries to telephone the police but finds they have been cut off, and then Dan hears someone climbing the stairs towards them.

A figure climbing the stairs

Differences from the 1980 programme

This is the first time that the mid-episode break in the story has been kept in exactly the same place for the 1980 version of the story as in the 1971 version: the thin space-man emerges from Tom's car and leers and lurches menacingly towards Bunting and Peep-peep. However the 1971 script records that this version holds a freeze-frame as he approaches, which isn't used in the 1980 version.

The timings of the film story in this episode:

1971 version 1980 version
Story Part 1 4:07 3:24
Story Part 2 4:08 3:20
Total 8:15 6:44

Source: 1971 scripts; the 1971 PasB record matches fairly closely, showing 305 feet of sound film which would take approximately 8:08; 1980 episode recordings

The 1971 film story is about 90 seconds longer than the surviving 1980 version, with the difference split equally between both parts of the story.

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