WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Planet earth is doomed. Climate change is real. And the only viable solution to saving mankind is to abandon our planet and start anew somewhere else… hey, we hear Mars has plenty of real estate!
Well, not in 2016 maybe, but in 1977 this wasn’t the kind of thing being discussed around the dinner table (for those under 40, a dinner table is a place where people used to gather around and eat, talk about the day’s news, and generally enjoy each other’s company).
But such was the premise of a very strange and, in our opinion, highly dubious hoax perpetrated by the producers of the normally straight-forward and conservative British TV show called, Science Report.
The big question is why?
Airing on June 20th, 1977, and produced by Anglia Television, Alternative 3 purported to be a serious investigation into Britain’s so-called “brain drain”. This investigation then led to uncovering an international conspiracy of epic proportions, supposedly initiated by the elite to establish new world colonies on the Red Planet.
The show (and subsequent book) claims, among other things:
- That earth is rapidly dying due to global warming, environmental pollution, and human overpopulation.
- That there were 3 alternatives discussed by our secret controllers to survive the coming calamities. Alternative One: Blow a whole in the atmosphere with nukes and allow the greenhouse gases and pollution to escape. Alternative Two: Build massive underground bunkers to survive the coming catastrophe. Or Three: Abandon ship.
- That there’s a joint American/Russian secret space program with bases on the moon and Mars.
- That UFO’s are advanced man-made aircraft developed by the shadow government.
- That top scientists from Britain (and elsewhere) are being whisked away to help manage the secret space program.
- And that masses of unwitting citizens are being abducted and mind controlled to act as slave labor to build and maintain these secret space bases, and save humanity for the super rich.
Got that? Good. Oh, and apparently, we’ve been doing all of this since at least 1962.
Join John and Adam as they discuss this truly bizarre story and how its ideas seem to act as a nexus for all the conspiracy theories of the last several decades.
Is it all a hoax? Or might there be some uncomfortable truths hidden in it’s seemingly outlandish premise?
WHAT DID WE THINK?
Oh, man. As far as conspiracies go, this one’s a real doozy. In fact, we could argue that it’s the mother of all modern day Illuminati/New World Order/UFO conspiracy theories, as it was arguably the first time all of these separate ideas were commingled into one giant sinister plot.
Written and Directed or, as the credits say, “Devised by” David Ambrose and Christopher Miles, the show was presented as an investigative piece about missing scientists and their possible connection to some mysterious government program. However, it quickly spirals out from there into a complex tale that’s truly “out of this world”.
And, if we’re being honest, almost totally unbelievable. Almost.
But maybe we’re being a bit unfair, as we’re coming at it with the sophistication of a 21st Century viewer, who’s bullshit detector is a little better than that of someone in the late seventies. Regardless, it’s obvious from the get go that everyone in the piece is… acting! And laughably so. In fact, with the exception of the host Tim Brinton, everyone is an actor and credited as such at the end.
So, as far as the actual execution of the idea, the writing and performances are mostly unconvincing. However, that’s not to say there isn’t something deeper going on here.
What’s most baffling about this whole thing is that the producers claim it was done as an April Fool’s joke. Now, one has to keep in mind that Science Report was a real show. About science. Imagine if 60 Minutes, or NOVA, decided to pull a fast one on it’s viewers. Naturally, people would be pissed, or at least confused. So, it’s no surprise that people at the time believed it and demanded to know what the hell was going on.
Compounding the whole matter further is that it aired on June 20th, not April 1st, as the producers claim they intended. Why they decided to do this only adds more fuel to the conspiratorial fire. Why not wait until the following year? It’s like pulling a Halloween prank in January. It doesn’t make any sense.
Another intriguing anecdote to this story is that the show was pulled immediately, never to be aired again. In fact, the creators claim that Anglia Television disowned the broadcast, and the only copy to have survived was a 16mm print director Miles had in his possession.
We have reason to believe this isn’t entirely true, as bootleg copies of the show (in VHS) were being passed around conspiracy/UFO circles in the early 90’s. In other words, someone sneaked a copy out to the world long before the 2007 DVD.
There are also some very puzzling details to this broadcast that turned out to be rather prescient in hindsight. For example, the use of the term “global warming” and its effects are commonplace today, but they weren’t so much in 1977. The show presents this information in such a way that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from a presentation by environmentalists in 2016. That’s interesting.
The most confounding character in this whole bizarre affair though is author Leslie Watkins. His 1978 book Alternative 3, which expanded on the original teleplay, took the basic premise and launched it into the conspiratorial stratosphere. What’s curious is that Watkins wasn’t involved in the original production in any way. He claims he just decided to write a book that, in his words, turned out to be “fiction based on fact”. It just so happens that he also “inadvertently” created a mythology that’s influenced almost every major conspiracy theory since.
So, who is Watkins really? A Mirage Man perhaps?
Of course, we couldn’t conclude without mentioning our debt to the late-great investigative journalist Jim Keith, who’s book Casebook on Alternative 3: UFO’s, Secret Societies and World Control provides much of the background material on which this particular podcast is based. His thesis is that the whole affair may be a classic disinformation campaign, a psyop if you will, to reveal and conceal certain uncomfortable truths.
And on this, we’re inclined to agree. But to what end?
Brian Eno composed the music.
Actor Shane Rimmer who played astronaut “Bob Grodin” (an obvious pun on Buzz Aldrin), also starred in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, which we think adds a nice bit of symmetry to the whole affair.