The Boy from Space (1971) - Episode 7: The Hunt for the Car

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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.

First broadcast: Tuesday 9 November 1971, 10:25am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 9 November 1973, 10:00am on BBC1 BBC Genome listing: 24211204be... BBC programme number: ESB1016T

Story Part 1

The shadow coming up the stairs towards the terrified children is Tom. They explain to each other what has happened.

The thin man holds Bunting and Peep-peep captive in the woods and operates a controller device. Then they are taken onto the space-ship.

Tom agrees to accompany the children to look for their lost friends on Rabbit Hill.

Teaching Middle

I haven't seen the script to this episode (as I ran out of time at the Written Archives) however the teacher's notes give a good indication of the teaching content of the episode although not exactly how it was delivered, and references in scripts for other episodes confirm that at least some of the following was included.

Charles has four large 'monitor screens' made out of old cardboard boxes, each marked with a compass point north, east, south and west. A cut out in one side of each 'monitor' is covered with clear plastic, through which pictures and words inserted into the box can be seen.

Monitor screens seen in the teacher's notes

He also demonstrates a 'writing ring' like Peep-peep's, made from plasticine covered with pasted tissue paper and with a piece of coloured chalk set in like a stone. Children can write on the blackboard with their own 'writing rings' just like Peep-peep does in the space-ship.

The animated sequences in this episode are likely to have covered the ch- digraph in words such as 'children' and 'which', and the short final -y in words like 'suddenly', 'very' and 'funny.'

Story Part 2

Mr Bunting and Peep-peep are shut in a room behind an invisible window. There is another space-man already locked in the room whom Bunting realises must be Peep-peep's father.

Peep-peep reunited with his father

Tom, Helen and Dan find the car tracks on top of the hill. Tom recognises his own tyres, but they are puzzled that the tracks just stop.

Inside the space-ship the thin man is trying to work the controls. Peep-peep's father tries to explain things to Mr Bunting by writing out words with a special writing ring, but Bunting cannot understand them.

Helen finds Mr Bunting's book by the side of the road and inside is a message in Peep-peep's writing which they read using a mirror: "captured."

Differences from the 1980 programme

Without the script the best reference to the structure of the 1971 programmes is the pupil's pamphlet, and specifically the 1972 and 1973 "revised editions" which were updated after the episodes had been made. In these pamphlets a change in scene during the text is denoted by one space-ship emblem, and the story break in the middle of each chapter is denoted by three space-ships. This is done consistently for all of the episodes for which I have also seen the studio scripts, so there is every reason to trust it accurately identifies the mid-episode story break for those where I have not.

The pamphlet reveals that in 1971 the first half of the story is taken up by the children explaining things to Tom and persuading him to take them with him to search for Mr Bunting. Presumably this is still intercut with short and mostly silent sequences of the thin man marching his prisoners through the woods and apparently into the space-ship which are seen in the 1980 version, but are not long enough to make it into the text for children to read.

The entry of the prisoners into the space-ship and the first meeting with Peep-peep's father is apparently kept for the second half of the story in 1971, but a lot of it is shown in the first half in 1980, leading to the two parts of the story having distinctly uneven lengths in the 1980 version.

The timings of the film story in this episode:

1971 version 1980 version
Story Part 1 ? 4:13
Story Part 2 ? 2:32
Total Approx. 8:16 6:45

Source: 1971 PasB which shows 310 feet of sound film; 1980 episode recordings

The 1971 film story is about 90 seconds longer than the surviving 1980 version, almost exactly the same amount of difference as the previous episode.

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