The Day of the Triffids
by John Wyndham

John Wyndham - The Day of the Triffids, dram. Giles Cooper.

BBC Light Programme. 1957.

Human civilisation is almost wiped out in a single night as a fantastic nocturnal spectacle of lights in the sky leaves almost everybody in the world blind. The survivors must not only group and organise but are faced with a new terror - a genetically engineered and highly aggressive predatory plant...

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes after being stung by a triffid (a carnivorous plants which were originally bred to produce a natural oil that would take over the fish oil market), misses what appears to be the most spectacular meteorite shower the world has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind....

Adapted by Giles Cooper in six parts from John Wyndham's classic 1951 novel, "The Day of the Triffids".

Produced by Peter Watts.

1) 'The End Begins' (Wednesday 2nd October 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

Elspeth brings in a tape recorder that she finally has hooked up to the generator and tells Bill and Josella that they're going to talk to it. They will say everything - for the 'history' - because they were in on it before it happened. It has to be done on tape, as Bill well knows, because the girl who will be transcribing it - one of his wives - is blind. Bill first came across triffids when he was only nine-years-old....

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Monica Grey [Josella Playton], Molly Rankin [Elspeth Cary], James Thomason [The Managing Director of the Arctic and European Fish-Oil Company], Roger Delgardo [Umberto Palanguez], Anthony Adams [Bill as a 15-Year-Old Boy], Maurice Hedley [Mr. Masen, Bill's Father], Lockwood West [Walter Lucknor, in Charge of Research at the Arctic and European Fish-Oil Company], June Tobin [Nurse at St. Merryn's Hospital, London], Robert Sansom [Radio Commentator], Basil Hoskins [The House Surgeon at St. Merryn's Hospital, London (blind)], John Scott [Young Man (blind)], and Eric Anderson [Publican at 'The Alamein Arms', London (blind)].

Other parts played by members of the BBC Drama Repertory Company.

30 minutes

2) 'A Light in the Night' (Wednesday 9th October 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

Bill Mason had worked in a triffid oil production plant and became temporarily blinded when attacked by a triffid. At hospital, his eyes are to remain bandaged until the next morning so that they can heal. During the night, what appears to be a terrific meteor shower takes place and is visible to just about everyone on the planet. By the next morning, those who witnessed the meteor shower have become permanently blind. Bill removes his bandages and decides to venture out of hospital - to survive.

As he leaves the hospital and walks towards Piccadilly, Bill comes across and rescues Josella from the clutches of a blind man who was using her as a seeing guide. The two decide to join forces for survival but first, they must find a place to stay as evening approaches on the first day after the disaster.

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Nancy Nevinson [A Small Child], Ella Milne [A Mother], John Ruddock [Old Blind Man], Monica Grey [Josella Playton], and Frank Windsor [Man (blind), Josella's Captor].

Other parts played by members of the BBC Drama Repertory Company.

30 minutes

3) 'Conference and Confusion' (Wednesday 16th October 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

During their first night together in London, Josella sees a searchlight coming from the University tower. Who could it be? Is it a beacon for those who can still see to gather to? When morning arrives, the two decide to investigate....

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Monica Grey [Josella Playton], Malcolm Hayes [Jack Coker, an Agitator], Arthur Young [Colonel Jaques], John Sharplin [Michael Beadley, Committee Chairman], Molly Rankin [Elspeth Cary, the Official Recorder], Shaun O'Riordan [Ivan Simpson], Kathleen Helme [Miss Berr, a Nurse], Duncan McIntyre [Dr. E. H. Vorless, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kingston], Molly Lumley [Miss Florence Durrant], Charles Leno [Alf (blind)], Harry Towb [Mac (blind)], and Beryl Calder [Lucy (blind)].

Other parts played by members of the BBC Drama Repertory Company.

30 minutes

4) 'Dead End' (Wednesday 23rd October 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

After Bill and Josella agree to be part of Beadley's group (and, also, to marry), they are separated when captured by Coker's group. Bill is to be the eyes for a group of 52 blind people to forage for food and find accommodations while Josella has been sent to work with another group. Though Bill is chained to Alf and Mac, two of the group's blind men, he must find a way to escape and find Josella as plague is running rampant through the city.

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Charles Leno [Alf (blind)], Harry Towb [Mac (blind)], Beryl Calder [Lucy (blind)], Malcolm Hayes [Jack Coker], Molly Lumley [Miss Florence Durrant, the Group Co-ordinator at Tynsham Manor near Devizes, Wiltshire], Alan Edwards [Stephen Brennell, Group Head in Beaminster, Dorset], June Tobin [Vera Paul, Stephen's Girlfriend], and William Eedle [Sid Farrar, part of Stephen's Group].

Other parts played by members of the BBC Drama Repertory Company.

30 minutes

5) 'World Narrowing' (Wednesday 30th October 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

While passing through Chichester just outside of Southampton, Bill runs into Susan, an orphaned 10-year-old. Not wanting to leave her behind to fend for herself, Bill takes her with him in search of Josella. He remembers Josella mentioning a good place for them to go to escape the disease and other dangers in the city. It was for them to go to her friends' place in the South Downs, Sussex, where they have a lovely old farmhouse on the north side looking across to Pulborough. It's fairly high up on the hill and has a wind-pump for water and they make their own electricity. Hopefully, she's found her way there....

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Gabrielle Blunt [Susan, an Orphaned 9-Year-Old], Monica Grey [Josella Playton], Sheila Manahan [Mary Brent (blind)], Richard Martin [Dennis Brent, Mary's Husband (blind)], and Margot Macalaster [Joyce Taylor, Mary's Sister (blind)].

30 minutes

6) 'Strategic Withdrawl' (Wednesday 6th November 1957 @ 8:00 p.m.)

Now at the farm for four years, Bill has managed to build a perimeter fence around the farm to keep out the ever-increasing presence of triffids. He's been able to make the farm self-sufficient, but only just. But though they've been killing triffids by the hundreds, more and more arrive. Wondering what the future will hold for them, they are visited by Torrence, an official from a militant group in Brighton, along with two armed men. Torrence tells them of plans he has for their group and the farm, whether they like it or not....

With Patrick Barr [Bill Masen], Monica Grey [Josella Playton], Gabrielle Blunt [14-Year-Old Susan], Richard Martin [Dennis Brent, Mary's Husband (blind)], Shaun O'Riordan [Ivan Simpson, from Beadley's Group on the Isle of Wight], Trevor Martin [Mr. Torrence, Commander of South-East Region], Haydn Jones [Torrence's Subordinate

1], Hugh Manning [Torrence's Subordinate

2], Margot Macalaster [Joyce Taylor, Mary's Sister (blind)], Nancy Nevinson [David, Bill and Josella's Young Son], and Molly Rankin [Elspeth Cary].

30 minutes


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