The Boy from Space (1971) - Episode 8: The Lake

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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 29 October 1971, 6:15pm in studio TC5 Edited: Sunday 7 November 1971 First broadcast: Tuesday 16 November 1971, 10:25am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 16 November 1973, 10:00am on BBC1 BBC Genome listing: 1ba6ba9e11... BBC programme number: ESB1017N

Story Part 1

Tom, Dan and Helen decide to look for the space-ship, starting from the sand-pit where they found Peep-peep.

Peep-peep's father refuses to help the thin man to start the space-ship.

Bunting, Peep-peep and his father

At the sand-pit, Dan and Helen tell Tom about when they met the thin man. Dan remembers how his compass needle spun round in the wood. They decide to go into the wood to see if the space-ship made it spin.

Teaching Middle

Charles wonders whether the space-ship really is hidden somewhere in the wood, and shows us the map from episode 2 again, this time on his screen. He explains where the characters are with arrows and dotted lines. Dan, Helen and Tim are in the sand-pit heading for the woods where they will be looking very carefully at the compass needle. He observes that "maybe it was the space-ship that made it spin, but we don't know for certain."

A voice saying "Hello Charlie!" makes Charles hunt about for the space-bug from episode 2. The space-bug appears with a pop on a nearby stool, and wants to tell a story about three thin things. Charles would like us to watch an animation about th- words first, then the story is also told in animation, and the space-bug pops off again.

Charles spots some card figures of space-men on space-walks in another part of the studio. Their limbs are joined with paper fasteners so they can move about in funny ways, and they have collected words as if they were meteorites. One called Peep-peep has collected words with long 'e' sounds like 'needle,' 'screen' and 'keep.'

Space figures as envisaged in the teacher's notes.

Next he talks about the big window that Peep-peep, his father and Mr Bunting were all shut up behind - it looks like glass but it's quite different. When the thin man turns the controls he makes the big window melt away.

We see the animation about -ed words and the word-eater from episode 6 again in full, and then it is time to read from the screen again as the thin man tries to stat the space-ship.

Story Part 2

The compass spins and then points in a direction which isn't north, and Tom and the children have to push their way through an invisible wall in the middle of the woods. An alarm in the space-ship alerts the thin man and he watches events on a television screen.

The compass needle always points towards a lake, and Tom realises that the space-ship is under the water.

Production notes

Based on annotations to the BBC file copy of the script, several cuts were made to the planned teaching content of this episode during recording, presumably for timing as it was running more than a minute too long.

An extra caption to read out from the screen that "maybe the space-ship made the needle spin like that" was cut from the story review at the beginning.

Some extended banter between Charles and the space-bug was cut before and after the th- animation, where Charles needs the space-bug to be quite for a moment and the space-bug agrees but keeps enthusiastically talking about the beautiful story that he wants to tell.

Another cut sequence would have re-used the screens from episode 7 to show three words for viewers to read out loud, 'screen,' 'melt' and 'needle,' requiring them to work out that 'melt' has a different sound in the middle than the other two words.

Differences from the 1980 programme

As is typical, the break in the middle of the film story is moved by just half of a scene, in a way which changes what viewers have got to think about during the teaching middle. In the 1980 version of this episode we cut away from the story just as Dan, Helen and Tom arrive at the sand-pit to look round. Here in the 1971 version they continue talking, realise that the compass might help them to find the space-ship, and head into the woods.

This means that the teaching recaps in the two versions of the episode are significantly different. In 1971 Charles talks about the map of the whole area and where the children are heading, while in 1980 Wordy and Cosmo concentrate on events inside the space-ship.

The timings of the film story in this episode:

1971 version 1980 version
Story Part 1 3:55 2:34
Story Part 2 3:17 3:25
Total 7:12 5:59

Source: 1971 scripts; the 1971 PasB record is close, with 276 feet of sound film which would take approximately 7:22; 1980 episode recordings

The 1980 version has lost about 1:13 of film from the 1971 version.

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