The Boy from Space (1980) - Episode 4: In danger!

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Studio recording: Saturday 17 November 1979, 8:30pm First broadcast: Tuesday 5 February 1980, 10:16am on BBC1 Last broadcast: Friday 12 January 2007, 10:00am on the CBBC Channel BBC Genome listing: f6e5cbe0b4... BBC programme number: ESBB604F

Story Part 1

The boy tries to communicate, talking in the strange beeping sounds and using mimes.

Space-speech translator
A short extract from the soundtrack of the episode, with all of the "space-speech" snippets played backwards to work out what they are actually saying. Sources: episode audio reversed, 1971 studio scripts

Peep-Peep: You must... help... help!
I want to be friends with you. Don't harm me. Help! Help!

Dan: He's from space, he must be. And look at his silver clothes.
Helen: How can he be from space?
Dan: That light we saw last night, that was his space-ship!
Helen: Oh Dan!
Peep-Peep: I am in danger. If Zooyixi returns he will capture all of us. Take me with you.
Dan: He wants to tell us something.
Helen: Keep back!

Snippet from the 1971 studio script giving the space-speech dialogue including the name Zooyixi

Slowly Dan and Helen manage to show they are friendly. The three use gestures to understand each other, and Dan and Helen give their names. The boy says his name too, and Dan decides to call him 'Peep-peep' as that is the sound he hears.

Peep-peep communicating with the children
Space-speech translator
Sources: episode audio reversed, 1971 studio scripts

Peep-Peep: Your names! My name is - Peep-Peep.
Helen: Was that his name?
Dan: It must be. But how do you say it?
Helen: Helen.
Dan: Dan.
Peep-Peep: Peep-Peep.
Helen: It is his name.
Dan: Peep-Peep? (moving forwards) Hello Peep-Peep.
Peep-Peep: Do not harm me. What are you going to do?
Helen: He thinks you're going to hit him.
Dan: Oh no, no. We want to help you.
Helen: I think you held your hand out too fast.
Peep-Peep: He's looking for me. He's dangerous. He has taken over my father's ship. The ship went out of control and crashed on your planet. Don't leave me!
Dan: What was all that about?
Helen: I don't know.
Dan: He is from space, I know he is.

Dan and Helen want to take Peep-peep to Tom for help, but at the observatory they can't find him. Peep-peep seems unwell in the bright sunlight so Helen goes inside to find Mr Bunting, but she struggles to persuade him that she has met a boy from space.

Teaching Middle

Wordy has never seen anyone like that boy before, and goes over what happened when the children met him and made friends.

Wordy outside the Spacelab

"Thundering meteorites!" says Wordy just as the Spacelab starts spinning again, and he disappears to go and make repairs outside. Wordy floats in orbit around the Wordlab, and he exchanges angry written messages with Cosmo, all containing -ea- words. Cosmo talks about what is happening, using -ing words which lose the final -e such as 'shaking' and 'imagining.' Wordy returns to think-up a song about it.

SongDrop That E!

Will it come? Yes it'll come.
- Drop that -e! Drop that -e!
Now it's coming, nearer and nearer.

Lyrics by Gordon Snell, music by Paddy Kingsland, sung by Stephen Tait and Derek Griffiths

Featuring Rip van Twinkle

We read a little text from the story, and then Wordy tells us that he could see the planet Mars from outside the Spacelab. He introduces a film about the planet Mars and another about the four planets nearest the sun in the solar system. Next they see a picture of the Two Stars from Outer Space.

SongOuter Space is the Place

Outer space is the place, where I want to be
- Outer space is the place, for me.

Lyrics by Gordon Snell, music by Paddy Kingsland, sung by Sheila Steafel and Jeffrey Shankley

Featuring the Two Stars

After a repeated verse with fl- words missing for viewers to sing themselves, we read more of the story.

Story Part 2

Mr Bunting meets the boy from space

Mr Bunting is astonished to meet the boy. Using a 'map' of the solar system and a meteorite from Mr Bunting's desk Peep-peep mimes that he is now on Earth, and had been to Mars to collect meteorites.

Peep-peep eagerly writes a message with Mr Bunting's pen but nobody can read it. Peep-peep then staggers and falls to the floor.

Space-speech translator
Sources: episode audio reversed

Peep-Peep: This is your observatory?
Bunting: Bring him over here.
This is fantastic, fantastic.

Dan: We call him Peep-peep.
Helen: Is he from space Mr Bunting?
Bunting: I don't know. I don't know. Let's try to find out.
Dan: What's that?
Bunting: It's a map of the planets that go round the sun.
Dan: The sun? It looks like a star.
Helen: The sun is a star.
Bunting: That's right.
Yes, number three from the sun. Our planet, the Earth. He knows where he is. He's seen meteorites before.

Peep-Peep: In our solar system such things are rare. Very rare. We collected meteorites from the fourth planet from your star.
Bunting: Mars. That is the planet Mars, number four from the sun.
V/O: Suddenly he bent down and seemed to be picking something up and putting it on the table. It was like acting but without words.
Helen: What is he doing?
Dan: I know, he's collecting something.
Bunting: Collecting... meteorites... from the planet Mars.
Dan: So his space-ship went to Mars to collect meteorites, and then it came here!
Helen: We saw it come down last night.
Bunting: Then where is it? (to Peep-peep) That is a pen.
Peep-Peep: I will write your language.
Bunting: Well we can't read it. (to Peep-peep) We don't know how to read it.
Peep-Peep: Your writing. It's your writing.
Helen: Please...
Peep-Peep: You must be able to read it. [I'm feeling...]?

Production notes

The teaching content of this episode is quite varied and shifts from one thing to a completely different thing several times, including two separate documentary sequences about space. Originally a song about the planets had been planned for this episode, but it was dropped and replaced by the morphemic structure song 'Drop That E!' -- which has an apparently unintended double entendre meaning relating to the drug ecstasy.

The official title of this episode is 'In danger!' written in reverse mirror writing just as Peep-peep indecipherably writes it out in the story - a clue for more confident readers to work out what is going on. On-screen and in the professionally published wallcharts, teacher's notes and pupil's pamphlets this backwards text could be printed out. For internal BBC documents and typescripts sometimes the mirror writing would be added by hand, but otherwise the title of the episode would be officially recorded as "In Danger!: In Mirror Writing."

Read about what was cut from the film sequences on the page about the 1970s episode.

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