The Boy from Space (1980) - Episode 1: The Meteorite
Studio recording: Friday 9th November 1979, 2:45pm in studio TC3 First broadcast: Tuesday 15th January 1980, 10:16am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 12th January 2007, 9:00am on the CBBC Channel BBC Genome listing: 2295a62eb2... BBC programme number: ESBB601Y
Wordy, in his space-station called Wordlab 1, welcomes viewers and puts on a video-tape of The Boy from Space Programme 1.
Adult siblings Dan and Helen drive up to an observatory to look round, and reminisce about an adventure they had there when they were children.
Story Part 1
Young Dan and Helen are playing in an old hut. They have built a small telescope and use it to look at the wildlife across the fields, being careful never to look at the sun.
They go to show their telescope to their older friend Tom who works at the nearby observatory.
They find Tom at the observatory mending his car, and Dan notes down the number plate in his notebook for a hobby.
Tom's boss Mr Bunting comes out and is interested to look at the telescope too.
Wordy shows us his telescope, and uses it to look out of the observation window where he sees a figure in a space-suit emerging. Wordy is displeased to receive a visitor, but reluctantly allows the figure to enter. The visitor introduces himself as Cosmo, just passing through, and is immediately interested in the Boy from Space story book which Wordy has left lying about.
Wordy and Cosmo revisit the characters and the story so far. Cosmo then takes Wordy's telescope to peer out of the window, and explains how it works using lenses. Cosmo plays a video cassette he has brought with him, showing children in a classroom building their own telescopes.
Cosmo and Wordy are surprised by an -oo- vowel digraph appearing on their video screen, and think of words with that sound in it. Wordy thinks hard and a song animation appears.
Two stars over the wood.
One was bad, the other was good.
One had a book.
The other took a look,
And when he wasn’t looking,
She took that book!
Featuring the Two Stars characters
They hear the song again with the -oo- words missing for viewers to sing along.
Wordy uses a remote controller to make a large silver hemisphere in the Wordlab rotate, revealing the Boy from Space story book inside, and we read the passage where Dan and Helen remind each other not to look at the sun through their telescope.
That light is much too bright.
- That's right, it's much too bright.
Put out the light! That's right.
- Good night.
Featuring the Space Moles and the Space Monster
Cosmo picks up the storybook again and a reading sequence picks up the story.
Story Part 2
Mr Bunting is impressed by the telescope and invites Dan and Helen to look round his observatory. He shows them a round room with a very large reflecting telescope inside, and an even bigger refracting telescope in another room where Mr Bunting keeps a desk.
The children blink at the bright light when the roof of the telescope room is opened, and are interested in the planet map and meteorites which Mr Bunting shows to them.
That night Dan and Helen use the telescope in their hut to spot constellations. They spot a bright, fast moving object falling through the sky.
The prologue at the start of this episode, showing the children going back to the observatory as adults and framing the rest of the story as a reminiscence from a simpler time, completely replaced the film 'teaser' shown at the start of the the original 1970s version of this episode.
As well as that teaser, which lasted a little over 2 minutes, around 38 seconds has been trimmed from the rest of the film story, and the mid-episode break has been moved slightly to remove the cliffhanger about whether Mr Bunting would be a nice to the children or not. Read more about what was cut on the page about the 1970s episode.
Early drafts of the teaching script for this episode saw Wordy comment on Mr Bunting's "splendid, splendid" catchphrase, calling it "very catching".
The teaching section of this episode as recorded over-ran significantly, and so several linking sequences have been edited out of the finalised programme. This leaves us with some sudden juxtapositions and makes it seem perhaps slightly disjointed, with things just suddenly happening to Wordy and Cosmo for no reason. The cut material makes more sense of what they do...
- As the first part of the film story suddenly ends, Wordy was meant to react to it. "Oh it's switched itself off. It always stops before the end of the chapter, doesn't it, Wordwatchers?" he would bemoan. Then after bringing out his telescope, but before spotting Cosmo out of the window, he would turn it on the viewers and declare "Uch! What an ugly lot!"
- Cosmo's entry to the Wordlab was originally more convoluted, involving viewers helping Wordy to operate the air lock controls by reading from the screen "opening", "closing", "pressurizing" (sic) and "opening" again. In the finalised programme this is all skipped, and Cosmo simply walks through the door. The long words are an interesting inclusion right at the start of the unit, especially "pressurizing" which doesn't otherwise appear in the story and would presumably be too difficult for some viewers and discourage them from reading further.
- Wordy would reward Cosmo for successfully reading the characters' names out with "What a clever visitor. Have a biscuit." He would then pass over a biscuit to an eager Cosmo.
- Cosmo's off-hand mention that he worked in an observatory would be expanded to explain that he "used to observe the stars through a very large telescope," followed by a sequence in which he and Wordy would work on reading the long word "observatory" by splitting it into parts (very similar to the teaching content of the original 1970s version of this episode). In the finalised programme this section has been cut out, but the line about Cosmo working in an observatory has been dubbed back on while he is walking towards the window.
- Other cuts actually explain the concept of the Wordlab sequences more clearly, as following the classroom telescope film Wordy and Cosmo would discuss the different types of telescope and Wordy would punch buttons on his control panel to add the long words "refracting" and "reflecting" to his "collection". He would also add the word "observatory" from the earlier cut sequence.
- The cut discussion about telescopes was also meant to lead to a reminder for viewers not to look directly at the sun. Wordy would point out that Tom had said just that in the story, and Cosmo would reply "good," prompting the -oo- to appear on the screen. With this sequence cut the -oo- simply appears out of nowhere.
- A few minutes later in the finalised programme the first reading sequence leads directly into the Bright Light Song. But an intermediate sequence was supposed to take place in which reading the word "telescope" would prompt Cosmo to pinch Wordy's telescope again to look at a comet out of the window. Daylight would then start to stream through the Wordlab window which Cosmo would explain happens 10 times a day where they are in space. As the light gets brighter and brighter Wordy would hold his head muttering about "light" and "bright", and think up the Bright Light Song.
The episode title used on the camera script for this episode is "Telescopes", rather than the film story's actual title "The Meteorite", which is used on-screen.
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