Two Thousand Minus Sixty

2000 - 60

1958 - United Kingdom

2000 - 60, broadcast on 4 April 1958, was Commercial Television's first essay in Science Fiction. The story tells the last sixty minutes of the year 1999 in the headquarters of UNICON, an imaginary control centre of world government. It starts with a report of a runaway rocket apparently heading for London.

As the minutes tick by every possible defence is tried without success against the seemingly indestructible rocket. Total destruction of the centre of world government seems imminent and the immediate evacuation of the city is ordered. As the tension slowly mounts, the last few seconds tick away...

After 40 years of peace, the world is menaced by a destruction far more terrible than war

Technically the play was something of a challenge for Associated Rediffusion, who produced this one-off play under the umbrella of its popular drama series Television Playhouse. One of the visual effects required was the creation of what was called in the script 'a Cosmograph', a monitor screen showing the rocket, in full detail, flying through space - something that today you'd be able to create on your home computer, took A-R's Visual Effects Department several weeks to realise. In addition, a new range of sound effects were also required.

This original play began as an idea from James Workman, who was educated in England and trained as a naval cadet. He spent three years in the London Metropolitan Police. Moving to South Africa, Workman enlisted with the Witwatersrand Rifles and later joined a touring theatre company. He worked for the South African Broadcasting Commission as an announcer, scriptwriter and producer, occupations he continued to pursue after moving to Australia, where he began writing for radio in 1948 at the age of 46. On a working holiday to London he met with A-R's script editor and head of drama who commissioned 2000 - 60 based on his outline

June Thorburn

Charles Lloyd Pack (father of Roger Lloyd Pack), John Robinson, Eric Lander (No Hiding Place), June Thorburn (a popular English actress whose career was cut short by her death in an air crash), and popular character actor Campbell Singer, starred in this one-off play which was well received by critics at the time of broadcast.

Published on February 14th, 2021. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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