First There Was Orson Welles’ Radio Broadcast, Then Came Alternative 3
DVD Release Date: October 8th 2007.
In 1977 Anglia Television broadcast a programme called Alternative 3, a film By Christopher Miles, which purported to show evidence of life on a scientific colony on Mars and how scientists were being shipped to the planet.
By the time the programme had finished the switchboard at ITV was jammed, partly by callers alarmed at the end of life on earth as we know it and partly by viewers, recognising the programme as a hoax, ringing to blame the channel of being irresponsible.
Thirty years later however, life on Mars is not as outrageous a statement as it once was.
Alternative 3 is a spoof documentary. Originally scheduled for broadcast on April 1st it was meant to be an update on the now infamous radio broadcast by Orson Welles War Of The Worlds which was broadcast in the 1930s.
It stars Tim Brinton, Gregory Munroe, Carol Hazell. The piece is held together by the believability of the Tim Brinton (the commentator), who in his 70s Queens English voice comes across as a real broadcaster, which I believe he actually was.
Making an apprearance is Richard Marner (as Dr. Carl Gerstein) of ‘Allo ‘Allo fame. Of course, when first made, he wasn’t as well known, so you need to pretend he’s a stranger on screen.
The rest of the cast really look like they’re straining to look at ease in front of the screen, they seem to force their words and don’t look relaxed at all. Maybe it’s by design, but it looked to me totally contrived. Although, it could be because it’s quite an old program and was purposely shot like that.
Science Report is an old science program, and this was broadcast as part of it, adding to the realism.
At the time, the filmmakers were unrepentant at the furore that met their programme stating that the message from the film is that people should analyse what they see and hear on TV or radio - and shouldn’t just jump in and believe all they see, hear or read.
Thirty years later however, life on Mars is not as outrageous a statement as it once was, albeit the probability of intelligent life on Mars is probably just about zero.
I’ve been told, that apparently it has been banned from rebroadcast on British TV and undoubtely add fuel to the conpiracy theorists fire - they believe that it was to blow the whistle on an actual government project and alien threat.
It’s worth watching to see a piece of broadcasting history, if not well known. The chuckle factor is definitely present, so you need to watch it as if it’s 1977.