What is 'Timeslip'?

Timeslip was a children’s adventure serial broadcast by ITV in the UK. This question is answered more thoroughly in the Features section.

How many episodes were made?

One series of 26 episodes covering four different stories were made. These were ‘The Wrong End of Time’ (6 episodes), ‘The Time of the Ice Box’ (6 episodes), ‘The Year of the Burn Up’ (8 episodes) and ‘The Day of the Clone’ (6 episodes).

When was the programme originally broadcast?

The series went out originally on Mondays at (usually) 17.15 from September 1970 to March 1971 in the host region, ATV Midlands. (Other regions’ screenings were within a few days of the ATV broadcast.) In 1973-74 the series was re-run on Fridays, usually around 16.20.

The episodes on the DVD are in black and white! Wasn't the series made in colour?

Yes (and no – see below) With the exception of three episodes, the series WAS made in colour. Alas (as with many TV shows from that period), the series’ original colour tapes was not retained in the ATV/ITC archive in colour (except for one episode). The versions that have been released on VHS and DVD come from 16mm black and white film recordings that were made for international sales.

Why were some episodes made in B&W and which ones were they?

In the early 1970s colour television technology was still in its infancy in the UK. Many issues had to be ironed out between the programme makers and the trade unions over working practices involving the new colour equipment. This led to industrial action. Unfortunately, some ‘Timeslip’ episodes were made during one of these disputes, resulting in them being recorded in B&W. Sources often vary as to which episodes these are. However, the most reliable evidence (the episodes themselves!) reveals that three were affected in this way – these being parts 3 to 5 of ‘The Day of the Clone’. Episode five was originally recorded in colour but an additional scene had to be filmed to pad it out due to it under running. This was done during the industrial action and necessitated the episode being transmitted in black and white to match the new scene. Some older evidence has suggested that part 4 of ‘The Year of the Burn Up’ may have also been affected but this is incorrect. One of the problems verifying this over the years lies with inconsistent and misleading information published in the ITV listings magazine TVTimes. Some regional stations broadcast the entirety of the original run in black and white due to not having colour broadcasts at the time.

Why didn't the video releases feature the colour version of 'Time of the Ice Box' episode 6?

Back in the 90s, ITC Home Video decided that, in the interests of uniformity, they would release ALL of the episodes in B&W. However, a 2 minute clip from the colour episode (including the title sequence) was included on the ‘The Best Children’s TV of the Decade’ – a 70s’ compilation video in 1990 on the Watershed Pictures label (WSP 1013) and later re-released (with it’s 60s counterpart) on Pocket Money Video (087 562 3) in 1993. Both of these videos are now deleted.

What was the theme music called?

The theme music was called ‘Rite de la Terre’ and was composed by Edouard Michael. It came from the DeWolfe Music Library. More information can be found in the Features section.

Wasn't there a sequel of sorts called 'Tightrope'?

‘Tightrope’ was a children’s adventure series made by ATV in 1972. It starred Timeslip’s Spencer Banks and future ‘Coronation Street’ star John Savident. It was a thirteen part spy thriller created and written by Victor Pemberton and used most of the same production team as ‘Timeslip’. These are its only connections with ‘Timeslip’.

Was a second series of 'Timeslip' ever planned?

Reports suggest that while one may have been mooted at some point, this was quickly abandoned as the production team felt that the story had reached its natural climax with the final episode of “The Day of the Clone”.

Weren't there plans to revive 'Timeslip' in the 1990s?

For a period of time, Victor Pemberton’s Saffron Productions had the rights to produce a sequel series but, whilst Bruce Stewart wrote a treatment, the series never materialised. The full story behind this project was chronicled in a 2020 issue of SFX. The article is also available in the FEATURES section of this website. More recently, Big Finish have produced a new series of audio adventures featuring Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks reprising their original roles in brand-new stories.

Has Timeslip ever been repeated?

Aside from the 1973-74 repeat, the series has not been re-run on either British terrestrial or satellite TV stations. In his memoirs, the former Doctor Who producer, John Nathan-Turner revealed that in the 90s, ‘Timeslip’ was to form part of a science fiction strand on a new proto-digital subscription service called BBC Select along with ‘Doctor Who’ itself. As digital technology moved on, however, BBC Select folded before the strand could see the light of day.

Where was the Ministry Field?

The location scenes were recorded at a disused military establishment near Cuffley in Hertfordshire. More information can be found in the Features section.

I heard that a pilot for a new series of 'Timeslip' starring John Taylor from the pop group 'Duran Duran' was made in the 1980s. Is this true?

Yes and no. A pilot for an SF anthology series called ‘Timeslip’ was made in 1985 by Yorkshire Television and starred the Duran Duran bassist as a ‘hacker’ who saw each episode’s drama played out on his computer screen. The pilot also featured a pre-‘Farscape’ Virgina Hey. Aside from the title, it has nothing to do with ATV’s ‘Timeslip’.

What official merchandise was produced for 'Timeslip'?

Not much. A novelisation of the first two stories was published by Pan Books in 1970. There was also a re-jacketed Piccolo version available shortly after. ‘Look-in’ magazine ran a comic strip based on the show during its early days. Information about this can be found in the Merchandise section of the site.

Where can I see the series?

The first six episodes are available to stream on Britbox UK.

Network DVD released the series a few years ago and it is available through all the usual stockists. Here is the link for Amazon.

If you have any further questions, why not join the ‘Timeslip’ Facebook page and ask the community there. The link is here.

If you need to contact us direct with a query, then check out our contact details here.