From the box marked ‘woah, didn’t see this coming’ are the rumours of a potential American revival of 1970s British teatime sci-fi classic The Tomorrow People courtesy of Greg Berlanti (executive producer of the CW’s superhero hit Arrow) and Julie Plec (exec producer of the same network’s The Vampire Diaries). Created by Canadian Roger Price in 1973 as an ITV “answer to Doctor Who” (although The Tomorrow People screened in a post-school weekday slot) the series told the adventures of a group of ‘homo superior’, the next stage of human evolution, children who have developed extraordinary powers such as teleportation, telekinesis and telepathy. The group set themselves up in a secret base in an abandoned London Underground Station and, with the help of a sophisticated biotronic supercomputer called TIM, battled extra-terrestrial - and often distinctly terrestrial - menaces, always keeping their existence secret from human authorities. Criticised - quite rightly, frankly - for its cheap and cheesy visual effects which made Doctor Who look Star Wars, The Tomorrow People nevertheless struck a chord with flared-trousered 1970s teens many of whom (we’re told) could be found clasping their chunky belts and pretending to ‘jaunt’ (the show’s name for teleporting). The series, boasting a hugely-memorable signature tune by Doctor Who incidental music composer Dudley Simpson, ran from 1973 to 1979 across a total of 68 episodes, the cast changing regularly across the run but with the oldest Tomorrow Person John (Nicholas Young) surviving right to the end. The series eventually fell foul of industrial action at ITV and plans for further episodes were scrapped.
The Tomorrow People was resurrected in the 1992 by Tetra Films (for ITV/Thames) but the new series abandoned much of the original show’s sci-fi hardware along with its tacky visuals - this was a much slicker, if occasionally more slapstick, affair. New Tomorrow People included Kristian Schmid (Neighbours) and Naomie Harris (currently appearing in the latest James Bond epic Skyfall) and the show’s 25 episodes attracted impressive guest stars such as Christopher Lee, Connie Booth, Jean Marsh and Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules. Following the cancellation of the new Tomorrow People the licence for the series found its way to Doctor Who audio producers Big Finish who returned to the ‘classic series’ continuity, reuniting many of the original cast, until their licence was withdrawn at the end of 2007.
Berlanti and Plec are said to be huge fans of the original series and have been chasing up the rights to The Tomorrow People for some time. The new series will be a co-production between Fremantle Media (the show’s rights-holders), Warner Brothers TV and Berlanti’s own Berlanti Productions. Absolutely no other details are yet available at this stage but this is one Starburst will be keeping a very keen eye on over the coming months…
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