‘The Tomorrow People’ is a show of enormous ambition, being set at all times and all points in the universe and relying heavily on special effects, but it is undone by the execution, which is cheap and clunky and relies upon a largely untutored cast of kids to paper over the cracks. Where the show was successful, however, was in being emotionally disturbing. It’s easy enough to have a monster jump out at you, of course, and lots of people do that, but ‘The Tomorrow People’ took an indirect but no less affecting route, specialising in showing its youthful audience things that would nag at them and, later, twist their dreams into nightmares (I speak from personal – although not recent - experience).
Case in point:‘A Much Needed Holiday’, in which the young homo superiors repair to a distant planet to put on false beards, wear flip flops and swim listlessly and endlessly up and down an eight foot long paddling pool. Outside of the resort, however, nasty aliens with faces like the gravel at the bottom of a fish tank are at large, and are steadily stripping the planet of precious stones using a slave force of adolescent boys. They treat the kids appallingly: zapping them with stun sticks, making them grope around in the mud, putting them in cages, chaining them together as if they were livestock. I can clearly remener that, as a kid, I didn’t like that; I didn’t like that at all, and I was unable to process it before putting my sleepy head on. The resulting bad dream was almost as disturbing as the one I had about Terry-Thomas chasing me around the dining room table whilst dressed as a Pharaoh.
Happily, back in the awake world, the Tomorrow People were able to sort it all out, freeing the boy slaves and exiling the arsehole aliens to some shitty rock in the middle of nowhere – forever.
I met Mike Holloway once, quite by chance, in the early nineteen nineties (he hired a video from the shop I was working in). Actually, I met him twice, as he had to return the film, and the second time he signed my Look In annual and we had a little chat about the show and the seventies in general. He was a really nice, cheerful, enthusiastic chap, but couldn’t quite disguise the wistfulness in his voice when he described the decade as ‘great times – the best’. I assumed he was talking about being in a group and on posters and starring in a TV show where he got to fire a ray gun every week, not about his legendary impersonation of a man who would later be revealed as the devil incarnate.
I particularly like the way he artlessly gives a little look to the right to get his cue. Bless him, he's just a boy.