"These people have been brainwashed to wage a silent war. They're part of a pattern - a pattern of evil. We've got to find the other pieces before they undermine the whole country."
11 episodes of 60 minute duration. 1965.
Undermind was a very unusual British science fiction thriller series for its time in that there wasn't a rocket, flying saucer or extraterrestrial to appear at all over the course of its run. Over its eleven episodes Undermind told a story about alien subversion where an alien force, that was never identified by name or location, sought to establish a foothold in Britain by undermining society and morale. These aliens had sent high frequency signals from space that are picked up by people who become brainwashed into subversive acts to create a climate of social unrest. The series villains ended up being everyday people who suddenly underwent a dramatic change in their personality, and behaving or acting in ways totally foreign to all those that knew them. But they all shared one small thing in common - an acute susceptibility to high frequency signals.
Undermind was created by writer Robert Banks-Stewart (Doctor Who: Terror Of The Zygons) and was produced by Michael Chapman. The series main cast consisted of two regular players - Jeremy Wilkin as Drew Herriot and Rosemary Nicols (who'd later go on to star in Department S) as Anne Herriot - while each episode featured new characters and guest stars suited to that weeks story.
In the series premiere episode "Instance 1" (a.k.a. "Onset Of Fear") written by Robert Banks-Stewart, Drew Herriot (Jeremy Wilkins) returned from Australia to find his policeman brother Frank (Jeremy Kemp) had provoked a scandal involving a top politician. Appalled by this uncharacteristic behavior, Drew and his brother's estranged wife Anne (Rosemary Nicols) searched for the cause behind Frank's strange actions. With the help of a psychiatrist, they discovered that Frank had become 'emotionless' and uncover a web of similar cases - the victims all being susceptible to high frequency signals. Frank killed the psychiatrist, Dr. Poulson (Paul Maxwell) and tried to have Drew and Anne eliminated. But in the end, it was he who was shot, and as he died, he told Drew: "There are more of us..."
Robert Banks-Stewart wrote the following episode "Flowers Of Havoc". Drew's search for clues about why his brother had been brainwashed took him and Anne to a south coast resort where they found that the local vicar is surprisingly the ringleader behind an invasion by hundreds of rioting teenagers.
This terrifying tale featured the first appearance of Dennis Quilley as Professor Val Randolph, while the evil vicar was played by Michael Gough (Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker as well as Alfred in the Batman Movies).
In the series third episode, "The New Dimensions", written by David Whittaker, Drew found himself the victim of an elaborate plot to frame him for the murder of a call-girl involved with an MP and a welfare worker. It was up to Anne to go undercover and get to the truth.
Hugh Leonard provided "Death In England" where Drew and Anne uncovered a plot to kill and old IRA revolutionary in London, while in the Robert Banks-Stewart penned episode, "Too Many Enemies", Anne and Drew followed the trail of the mysterious Gill to Professor Randolph's radio telescope at Kimberley Vale. There they made the shocking revelation that he too was one of the 'Undermind' and was out to brainwash them as well.
In "Intent To Destroy" with guest performances by Peter Barkworth, Jan Holden and This Is Your Life presenter Eamonn Andrews, a strange astrologer became the link between the poisoning of thousands of acres of Kent orchard, unsettling stock market tips, and a bomb plot to kill a famous celebrity on live television.
Bill Strutton provided the script for the series seventh episode where Anne and Drew discovered that a large number of doctors in London had committed suicide - each shortly after having a birthday on which they received a birthday greetings record. Clues lead them to a recording studio and they uncovered a plot to hypnotize the doctor's by fixing the records.
Comedy actor Derek Nimmo played Homer Benton in the Max Sterling penned episode, "Puppets Of Evil". When children started behaving badly - influenced by a fictional character - Drew and Anne suspected that the author, Kate Orkney (Katharine Blake), had been brainwashed. Unraveling a complex web of involvement, they found the true culprit behind the unsettling stories was a school headmaster named Edmonds (Philip Latham).
David Whitaker's second script for the series was "Test For The Future" where Anne was held hostage by hired thugs and Drew was forced into co-operating with a brainwashed accountant's scheme to sent government exam papers to potential failures, thus creating future havoc when inferior men achieve important posts.
Prolific Doctor Who script writer Robert Holmes, provided the series two final episodes. The first was "Waves Of Sound". Drew and Anne investigated a cold cure clinic in Tunbridge Wells where the physician, Dr. Whittaker (Ruth Dunning) planned to spread a new flu virus that would cause middle ear infection, making victims receptive to a new brainwashing signal from space. Drew was able to stop the doctor's plans by substituting ordinary cold pills, and obtained a vital list of brainwashed people.
The second story by Holmes brought the series to an exciting conclusion with "End Signal". Using the list that Drew obtained in the previous episode, security forces rounded-up brainwashed people, and communications chief, Sir Geoffrey Tillinger (John Barron) prepared to jam the expected signal from space. Thinking they are finally safe, Drew and Anne begin to relax, until someone tries to kill them and they realize things are far from over yet. As the incoming signal is prepared to be jammed, Tillinger surprisingly reveals himself to be the main 'Undermind' and tries to stop the jamming. But - in a struggle he is killed and thus Britain is saved.
Undermind was produced by ABC Television (Associated British Corporation) that debuted on ITV on May 8, 1965. Made in black & white, the series ran for 11 episodes concluding with the episode "End Signal" on July 17th.
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