The Best 1980s British Sci-Fi TV Series (That Still Aren’t Doctor Who)

From killer plants to perhaps the most underrated series in sci-fi history…

Day of the Triffids 1981 DVD cover detail cropped
Photo: BBC

The 1980s enjoys a privileged, some might even argue inflated position in the sci-fi pantheon. In the US, it was the decade that gave us two thirds of the original Star Wars trilogy, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Terminator and Tron. In TV land, Star Trek got a brand new Generation, Quantums Leapt, Knights Rode, and of course, ALF.

But on the other side of the pond, British science fiction television was doing things the way we British always have – for less money, and a bit more bleak. But it wasn’t all creepy John Wyndham adaptations and hostile alien invasions, the 1980s also delivered a couple of British space comedy classics, along with the most underrated series in sci-fi history.

The Day of the Triffids (1981)

Stream on: purchase-only on Sky Store, Google Play, Amazon (UK); disc import only (US)

For our money, still the only decent adaptation of John Wyndham’s killer plant novel to ever grace a screen. Rather than the puppets in the 1960s movie version, or the CGI creations in the 2009 version that seem to desperately want to be Jurassic Park’s velociraptors, these Triffids look like actual plants. Like the Triffids in Wyndham’s book, these aren’t deadly monsters. They are just a lifeform that has, by chance, gained two very important Darwinian advantages numbers, and the fact that the human race is suddenly blind.


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