Dumb Martian

1962 | United Kingdom

Armchair Theatre production (produced by Sydney Newman), broadcast on Sunday 24 June 1962 as a foretaste to a new science fiction series starting the following week - Out of This World. This story was supposed to be the first episode of OOTW but Newman decided to include it in AT.

William Lucas as Duncan Weaver, a space pilot, has reached 35, the age limit for flying. Duncan has consistently gambled away his pay, so he accepts a job as an officer on the space station Jupiter IV/II. The prospect of two years alone on the most airless "pebble," less than 40 miles across, seems interminable. Even a microfilmed library and a huge collection of taped music would not compensate for only one ship a month calling to refuel. So, to offset the loneliness, and to help with the chores, Duncan buys Lellie (Hilda Schroder), a Martian girl.

At first the "Mart's" lisping speech seems cute to Duncan. But as the novelty wears thin Duncan's boorishness emerges. To him Marts are little better than dumb animals. He pushes Lellie around, treating her like a fool.

A rare visitor is Dr. Alan Whint, a geologist. In this role is Ray Barrett, better known at the time as Dr. Don Nolan in the popular medical drama series Emergency-Ward 10. Whint is the opposite of Duncan. He's a thinking man and he doesn't underrate the Marts. He treats Lellie the way she should be treated and teaches her the true meaning of freedom. Lellie, naturally becomes the sparking point of conflict between the two men, which results in Duncan arranging for Alan to have an ‘accident’ on a routine flight. When Lellie doesn’t mention Alan’s disappearance Duncan thinks he has got away with murder and that she is too dumb to realise what has happened, but it is Lellie who produces the final surprise. 

Hilda Schroder had to wear a blank expression all through this play, adapted from John Wyndham's story, as all the inhabitants of Mars were described as having expressionless faces. Unfortunately, this episode of Armchair Theatre, directed by Charles Jarrott and designed by James Goddard, no longer survives in the archives.

Published on November 6th, 2019. Adapted from original TV Times article (1962).

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