The Tripods: The BBC’s visual effects department did themselves proud with the Tripods. They had to solve the problem of making the Tripods walk realistically. They turned to George Pal’s film of War of the Worlds, only to discover that he’d turned HG Wells’s tripods into flying machines.
The full-size tripod: Rumours persist that one of the reasons The Tripods was so expensive was because the BBC built a full size tripod (yes, for once, the effects were that good). In fact, as you can see, they built some legs.
The City of the Masters: The biggest model the BBC had ever built took up the entire floor of Elstree Studios (that’s well over 1000 square feet). For years bits of it were propped up against a wall in Visual Effects. It was made out of lots of things, including a large amount of shiny wrapping paper.
The Music. Ken Freeman supplied the magnificent incidental music. You can find out more about it from his site www.topnote.co.uk.
The Dome: To help give the City of the Masters some perspective, a giant painting of the domed ceiling was made as adrop. It was painted the wrong way round, so if you look carefully, you’ll see the roof bends away from you rather than towards you.
The Last of the Tripods: After the series was cancelled, all the models were junked. One was rescued from a skip.
Cameo appearances: The main characters meet the Tripods only five times in series one’s 300 minutes.
Sour grapes: A constant criticism of the first series is the enormous amounts of non sci-fi padding - five stray lines in the book about a vineyard are turned into two whole episodes.
Series three: The cancelled final series of the Tripods would have seen the City of the Masters destroyed by an attack from balloons. V, the lizards-invade-earth sci-fi soap re-used this plot.
DVD: An attempted video release petered out with the first series. Series one was released on DVD in March 2001. There has been no news of a DVD release for series two. However, Tripods actor Jim Baker who played Henry has launched a campaign on the BBC iCan site to demand a release. You can add your support here.
A stellar cast: Of the cast of over 300, famous names include Pamela Salem, John Woodvine, and er, John Scott-Martin (he’s been inside a Dalek lots). Will was played by John Shackley.
Tragedy: Will’s love, Eloise, was played by Charlotte Long. She died shortly after filming for the show at Alan Clark’s castle, Saltwood. He mentions this sadly in his Diaries.
Link: John Christopher’s The Tripods - a great fan site that goes into immense detail about the show.
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