During the 1960s, Dr Kit Pedlar came to work at the BBC, on a little family-friendly sci-fi show called Doctor Who. While he was there, he was largely responsible for the creation of the internet, and of the Cybermen. And if there’s one thing that those ideas share in common, it’s a fear – or rather a suspicion – of what modern technology might do to us as a species, and to the planet we call a home.
Having forged a decent working relationship with the series’ story editor Gerry Davis, the two continued a partnership after their time on Doctor Who was over, and in 1970 were responsible for carrying over the idea of science as a potential threat into a brand new series for BBC1, called Doomwatch.
Doomwatch, like the Quatermass serials before it, and Survivors shortly afterwards, was one of those programmes that terrified and enthralled the nation, with storylines that were often just a little too believable. Storylines in which science and technology sailed a little too close to the wind, causing mayhem and disaster in their wake, and only the efforts of Dr Spencer Quist and his staff at the Doomwatch bureau could curtail their effects. Starring the likes of Robert Powell (and in the 1972 film version Ian Bannen), and with scripts from such notable writers as Dennis Spooner and Robert Holmes, Doomwatch was a major success during its three-year run – and was indeed revived by Channel Five in 1999.
In June of this year, Miwk Publishing will be releasing Michael Seely’s Prophets of Doom, An Unauthorised Guide to Doomwatch, which promises to be the definitive guide to the series, its production and its legacy.
However, if you don’t want to wait until then, you can get a taste of the flavour of the book by reading The Pacifiers, a chapter that was deleted from the final edition for space reasons and is being reproduced exclusively by Starburst Magazine, by going HERE.