The Day of the Triffids – Episode 1

November 23, 2014 in Cult TV by Firebird


A BBC series first broadcast in 1981 this retelling of John Wyndham’s classic sci-fi story of man-eating plants is in six half hour episodes. Recovering from a triffid sting, Bill Masen wakes in hospital to an uncanny silence.

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The first episode proceeds mostly in flashbacks as Bill records a taped message for his friend and co-worker. He’s been effectively blind since the accident but is waiting for a doctor to arrive and remove the bandages. This allows the background of the triffids to be described. Possibly developed in the USSR and then spread around the world they’re valuable because they produce an oil that can be used as a fuel additive, but they’re also dangerous. They are carnivores, producing a venom that is usually deadly and they’re mobile. Bill’s friend suspected that they are intelligent and communicate with each other, but Bill was not convinced.

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When Bill finally realises that it’s 8am and yet nobody has come to tend to him and there is no sound of traffic he thinks back to the spectacular meteorite shower of the night before and wonders if it might have been responsible. Finally abandoning caution he removes his bandages to find that his sight has returned. Leaving his room to explore he comes across one of the doctors who is now blind. A final scene shows Bill’s co-worker at the triffid farm lying dead, stung in the face, and the triffid pens empty.

By modern standard it was a slow start but I think that works well with this story. Our view of the situation is limited as Bill’s is. Until that last scene everything is either in the hospital or in his memories, we have no view of what might be going on outside.