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Fugitives and aliens from the early days of the television

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: October 05, 2006

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None of us like being called couch potatoes, but television manufacturers are doing their damnedest to occupy more and more of our spare time in front of the goggle-box.

What was once a little box in the corner has changed out of all recognition, like most other technological innovations over the past fifty years. The clarity of picture on some of the latest home entertainment screens is quite remarkable and makes you feel as if you're looking through an open window. But for most of us, how can we ever forget the fuzzy black and white screen which illuminated the living rooms in many a Black Country household, and the programmes we watched which hold so many fond memories?

Over the past few months Alan Keeling has been doing his best to rekindle those memories, reminding us of a string of classic programmes that were all but forgotten for the vast majority of us. His latest selection includes two Quinn Martin productions which had audiences glued to their television screens week after week, unbelievably forty years ago or thereabouts. They were The Fugitive and The Invaders.

"The Fugitive was first shown on ATV in early 1965, with the end of every episode holding a captive audience in suspense. One hundred and twenty episodes later, in August 1967, the killer of the fugitive's wife was finally tracked down. David Janssen played Doctor Richard Kimble who was wrongly accused of his wife's brutal murder. Kimble was found guilty, sentenced to death, but escaped captivity after a train crash whilst being transferred to prison. From that moment on he was relentlessly pursued by Lieutenant Gerard, played by Barry Morse, who tried every trick in the book to track down the fugitive. At the same time Kimble went after the one-armed man, played by Bill Raisch, who he knew had killed his wife. William Conrad (later Cannon), narrated the suspense-filled hour long dramas that were filmed in colour for the final 30 episodes.

"The Invaders was a rather unique science-fiction series which made its debut on ATV in the spring of 1967. Once again produced by Quinn Martin, the series followed the successful broadcast of a pilot episode called Beach Head. Audiences were immediately alerted to a new kind of thriller, telling the story of beings from outer space. Architect David Vincent, played by Roy Thinnes, witnesses the landing of a alien spaceship late one night and then spent most of the next 43 hour-long episodes trying to convince people that the earth has been invaded by aliens who were able to take on a human form, but could be identified in a crowd by their pointing and crooked little fingers. If one of the aliens happened to be apprehended and killed it would die in a cloud of red smoke and leave nothing behind except a black mark and a pile of ashes. The series was made in colour from the start and ran from 1966 until 1968, but there was never a concluding episode, so presumably the aliens are still at large."

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