A bold attempt to bring science fiction to the masses on Saturdays at tea-time.
This cult favourite, adapted from John Christopher's trilogy of books, remains a source of debate, and consternation, amongst TV science fiction fans.
Influenced by The War of the Worlds (the accusation has been levelled that it could almost be regarded as a sequel), The Tripods is set some hundred years into the future, where the Earth has been conquered by the Masters. Piloting the titular Tripods, these alien creatures control the minds of men through the 'Capping' process that everyone must undergo at the age of 13.
Humans eke out a 'blissful' feudal existence where they worship their alien masters as demi-gods, and the Capping - a cranial-implant process that removes their will, creativity and curiosity - leaves them serene but otherwise slaves. The story follows 12-year-old Will, who, fearing this process, goes on the run, seeking to join up with a band of rebels who live in the White Mountains in southern France. The second series picks up the story when a group of freemen are sent on an undercover mission to penetrate the Tripods' city, in an attempt to discover knowledge that may help them defeat the Masters.
Based on the first two books in John Christopher's late 1960s trilogy (The White Mountains and The City of Gold and Lead), the series was controversially cancelled by the BBC before the third season (based on the book The Pool of Fire) could be filmed. The story has proven to have enduring cult appeal, though, with a remake by Touchstone Pictures a constant fixture of Hollywood pre-production schedules.