British television has been a breeding ground for remarkable science fiction shows that have captivated audiences with their imaginative storytelling, ground-breaking concepts, and unforgettable characters over the decades. From otherworldly adventures to dystopian futures, these UK-produced sci-fi shows have left an indelible mark on the genre. Hopefully, you're introducing your kids to these ones today...
1. Doctor Who (1963-present):
Let's get the obvious one out of the way! "Doctor Who", of course, is a cultural British phenomenon that has spanned decades, capturing the hearts of generations of viewers. If you still don't know what it's about by now (you really should), the show follows the adventures of a time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, who explores the universe in a spacecraft called the TARDIS, battling monsters, villains and saving worlds and civilisations across all of time and space. With its clever blend of science fiction, adventure, and moral dilemmas, "Doctor Who" has become an iconic British institution through its 60-year history, showcasing the limitless possibilities of storytelling and captivating audiences with its ever-changing cast of actors playing the Doctor. If you've never seen the classic run (1963 - 1989 with the likes of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and William Hartnell to name a few), now's the time to start ahead of the celebrations this November.
2. Blake's 7 (1978-1981):
Written by Terry Nation (who is probably best known for creating the Daleks in "Doctor Who"), "Blake's 7" was a gritty and dystopian space opera set in a future ruled by a totalitarian regime known as the Federation. The show follows a group of rebels who fight against the oppressive system while navigating political intrigue and personal conflicts. With its morally complex characters and dark storytelling, "Blake's 7" pushed the boundaries of traditional sci-fi narratives with darker, more serialized stories.
3. Red Dwarf (1988-present):
"Red Dwarf" is a hilarious and inventive sci-fi comedy that follows the misadventures of the last surviving human, Dave Lister (Craig Charles in his breakthrough role), who is stranded millions of years into deep space aboard the mining spaceship Red Dwarf. With its unique blend of humour, memorable characters, and clever sci-fi concepts, "Red Dwarf" has garnered a devoted fan base and remains one of the most beloved British sci-fi shows of all time, with multiple revivals taking place across the show's history.
4. The Prisoner (1967-1968):
"I am not a number, I am a free man!" "The Prisoner" was a surreal and enigmatic series that followed a former secret agent known as Number Six, who found himself trapped in a mysterious and idyllic village where everyone is assigned a number instead of a name. The show explores themes of identity, surveillance, and individualism in a captivating and thought-provoking manner. With its iconic imagery and mind-bending storytelling, "The Prisoner" has become a cult classic - despite its limited run - and is a symbol of British television ingenuity.
5. Sapphire & Steel (1979-1982):
"Sapphire & Steel" was a supernatural sci-fi series which centred around two interdimensional agents, Sapphire and Steel, who are tasked with protecting the fabric of time and space from malevolent forces. With its eerie atmosphere, complex narratives, and compelling performances by Joanna Lumley and David McCallum, "Sapphire & Steel" offered a unique blend of mystery and science fiction that enthralled audiences during its run.
6. Quatermass (1953-1979):
"Quatermass" was a pioneering sci-fi franchise that began as a series of television plays before expanding into films and a television series. Created by Nigel Kneale, it follows the adventures of Professor Bernard Quatermass, a brilliant scientist investigating extra-terrestrial phenomena and its impact on humanity. With its intelligent storytelling, social commentary, and memorable characters, "Quatermass" laid the foundation for future British sci-fi shows and remains a classic of the genre.