Britbox, the popular subscription streaming service created by the BBC and ITV to bring the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content to viewers all in one place, has announced an exciting raft in new content arriving in August under the umbrella title the Out Of This World Collection.
Earlier this year the service tested the waters by offering selected episodes of cult TV favourites such as Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and rarely-screened children’s classic Timeslip, but next month several bona fide classic UK genre shows will make their debuts on the service in their entirety.
The new arrivals will include all seventeen episodes of Patrick McGoohan’s puzzlebox thriller series The Prisoner in which McGoohan’s unnamed retiring secret agent is abducted and held captive in a strange coastal village where he is tormented by his abductors who are determined to discover the reason for his sudden resignation. The series, a stone-cold classic of imaginative British television, has fascinated and confounded fans and scholars since it arrived on TV screens over fifty years ago.
Sapphire and Steel, the creepy and atmospheric adventures of two mysterious ‘time agents’ investigating and correcting temporal anomalies, starred Joanna Lumley and David McCallum and first appeared on ITV screens back in 1979. All 34 episodes of the series will be available on Britbox.
Gerry Anderson fans are well catered for as Britbox expands its Supermarionation slate with every episode of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons expanding from the already-available handful of episodes. More excitingly, though, the three ‘new’ episodes of Thunderbirds created in 1965 to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary and based on the ‘mini-adventures’ released on vinyl back in the 1960s, will be available publicly for the first time since a strictly limited edition physical release a few years ago. These episodes were created by producer/director Stephen La Riviere and his team using lovingly-recreated sets, puppets and props are were filmed at the unassuming Slough Trading Estate building (now sadly demolished) in Stirling Road where most of the original Century 21 productions were made back in the 1960s.
Fans of live action Anderson fare are also catered for, though, as Britbox will be making available all 26 episodes of STARBURST favourite UFO (1969/70) in which the Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation, headed by Commander Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) battles to keep Earth safe from an insidious invasion by body-snatching Aliens. All 48 episodes of Space:1999 (1975-7) in which a nuclear explosion causes the moon to be blown out of Earth orbit and set adrift in space and starring Martian Landau and Barbara Bain, will also be available… but we’d advise just sticking with the first 24 episodes.
Rounding off Britbox’s latest exciting archive acquisitions will be ITC’s quirky 1969 detective series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in which Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) returns from the grave as a white-suited ghost to help his shambolic partner Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) in his investigations and BBC4’s short-lived adaptation of Douglas Adams’s cult Dirk Gently novels with Stephen Mangan playing the hectic holistic detective. The series, which ran for only three episodes in 2012 following the broadcast of a successful pilot episode in December 2010, was created by Howard Overman (Merlin, Misfits, Future Man, War of the Worlds) and co-starred Darren Boyd as Dirk’s sidekick Richard Macduff with guest appearances from Helen Baxendale, Jason Watkins and Miranda Raison.
Britbox’s Out of this World collection will be available from August 20th.