The Boy from Space DVD review

Thanks to interest in the Apollo missions and the success of long running series like Doctor Who, ‘science’, both fact and fantasy, had become a popular subject with TV audiences during the late sixties and early seventies. Actor turned writer Richard Carpenter saw the possibilities with the genre, firstly with his highly successful ‘time travel’ series Catweazle and later with The Boy from Space, a serial he penned for the BBC Schools department.

Part of the Look and Read format and presented by a strange creature called Wordy – whose head resembled a ‘Henry’ vacuum cleaner – and his assistant Cosmo, the principle aim of The Boy from Space was to improve children’s literary skills. But Carpenter’s script made the learning process far more enjoyable with an adventure packed to the brim with spaceships, matter transfer devices and impenetrable force fields. These ingredients added a whole new dimension to a simple tale in which a brother and sister befriend a boy from outer space called Peep-peep and save their adult friends from silver suited aliens.

Now available for the first time on DVD this (slightly expensive) two-disc edition of The Boy from Space is being released to tie-in with the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, a three-month celebration of science-fiction, which runs from October to December 2014.

Picture:  Shot on video some forty years ago, the picture looks surprisingly clear, with far less print damage than we expected. Colours in Episode 10 (In the Spaceship) are also a little washed out, but generally the quality of the image is better than to be expected.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: Given the age of the source material the Dolby Digital mono audio is unremarkable, but there’s an interesting score by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. On location material is a little noisy (Chapter 9), but voices are clear and sharp.
Audio rating: 2/5 

Extras: This two-disc set offers up a wealth of extras. Aside from a 70-minute feature length version of the serial, minus the educational inserts from Wordy and Cosmo, there are two audio recordings from BBC Records. Both are 55 minutes duration, the first taken from the original serial in 1972 and the second combining the 1972 narration with accompanying footage from the 1980 version.

Animation inserts presented by Wordy are also included, along with downloadable PDFs of the original 1971 and 1980 school pamphlets. An illustrated booklet includes essays by TV experts Ben Clarke and Christopher Perry, as well as recollections from Radiophonic Workshop composer Paddy Kingsland.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say:  A trip down memory lane for some, The Boy from Space might even win over some new fans with this well-specified two-disc outing.

The Boy from Space, BFI, R2 DVD, £23 Approx