The Stranger was billed as Australia’s first science-fiction television series when it debuted on ABC in April 1964. Twelve half-hour episodes were produced over two series, screening on Sunday nights.
The Stranger tells the story of three children who decide to investigate a mysterious arrival at their school — Adam Suisse (Ron Haddrick, pictured), who claims loss of memory.
The children later discover that Adam is an alien.
The series presented a massive logistical exercise in production, with filming taking place at various locations around Sydney and surrounding areas adapted to accommodate the various settings. There was also location filming at Parliament House in Canberra and at the Parkes radio telescope. “Forty sets were required, as well as the exterior filming and we spent four months in planning the whole production,” producer Storry Walton told TV Times at the time of the show’s debut.
Walton also said some assistance was required in designing realistic sets such as spacecraft. “I feel children know quite a bit about such things, so we had to have something that looked scientifically correct, and was feasible aerodynamically,” Walton said. “It was so extraordinarily complicated that we went to outside experts for advice. Our script was also vetted by the CSIRO.”
The Stranger also starred Nigel Lovell, Jessica Noad, Reg Livermore, Owen Weingott, Kit Taylor, Reg Evans, John Faasen, Max Phipps and Chips Rafferty playing the role of the Australian Prime Minister. The three children at the centre of the story are played by Janice Dinnen, Bill Levis and Michael Thomas.
Produced in black and white, the series has not been broadcast for 50 years.
In what hopefully will lead to more classic ABC series coming out of the vaults to a new generation of viewers, ABC has remastered the series, with episodes now being released on ABC iview and on ABC’s YouTube channel.
YouTube: ABC TV & iview