‘The Wrong End of Time’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

World War II with Liz and Simon

I purchased the ‘Timeslip’ TV series on DVD in order to hear the Big Finish audios!

You may already know that I’m a huge fan of Sarah Sutton/Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’! So when the news came that Sarah was about to star in some Big Finish audios of the sci-fi TV series called ‘Timeslip’ in 2020, I was looking forward to them, pre-ordering them instantly once I heard the news.

My first discovery of the news came in a Twitter post by Big Finish on Sarah Sutton’s birthday in December 2019. In that, they mentioned she was doing some Big Finish work outside of ‘Doctor Who’. It was in a Christmas message by Big Finish that I found out what the ‘work’ was – ‘Timeslip’. 🙂

Like with the ‘Star Cops’ audio episode Sarah did, I decided to purchase the ‘Timeslip’ TV series on DVD in order to get an idea of what the show was about. I do like to find out what a TV series is like before I hear its audio dramas, even if it’s a short-lived series which it clearly was upon my discovery.

‘Timeslip’ was originally broadcast in 1970-71 and was shown on ATV, which I imagine is one of the equivalents of ITV today, much like Thames Television was. The show was devised by Ruth Boswell overall and it comprises of 26 episodes in total. All the episodes were shown in colour at the time. 🙂

Sadly, on the DVD release, only one of the colour episodes for ‘Timeslip’ survived whilst the rest are in black-and-white. 😦 While I’m disappointed as you can mostly see what ‘Timeslip’ is like in colour via its photo gallery, I’m very glad I can see ‘Timeslip’ at all and enjoy its episodes in black-and-white.

The show was ground-breaking at the time, blending hard science and fantasy in the story of two teenagers that discover the existence of a ‘time barrier’, which enables them to travel to different periods and locations. Much like ‘The Time Tunnel’ series that was created by Irwin Allen in 1966-67!

It’s interesting to point out that the show had a scientific adviser called Geoffrey Hoyle, who helped to make the science of the show’s time travel genuine. It makes you wonder how accurate ‘Doctor Who’s science was and what scientific advisers they had to make sure it was all credible in the end. 🙂

I’m not sure why ‘Timeslip’ didn’t last beyond one season. It could be that it went over budget or perhaps the viewing figures weren’t sustainable enough to guarantee a second season. Either way, it didn’t happen. ‘Timeslip’ only lasted for one season of 26 episodes, which is a shame on reflection. 😦

‘Timeslip’ stars Cheryl Burfield as Liz Skinner and Spencer Bankers as Simon Randall, the two teenagers that get caught up in the adventures of the ‘time barrier’. There’s also Denis Quilley as Commander Traynor, who I’ve seen in two Agatha Christie film adaptations of the 1970s and 1980s.

They include 1974’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and 1982’s ‘Evil Under The Sun’. I was looking forward to watching the ‘Timeslip’ TV series and find out what attracted so much appeal in it back in 1970 when it was broadcast on TV. Maybe it’s more than a straight-forward children’s sci-fi TV show.

I hoped to enjoy all of the ‘Timeslip’ stories before getting into the Big Finish audios. The DVD box set is divided into 5 discs, with the four stories on the first four discs and a bonus disc containing special features. There’s also a book by Andrew Pixley to accompany the ‘Timeslip’ TV series on DVD.

The first story of the ‘Timeslip’ series is ‘The Wrong End of Time’. It’s a six-part story by Bruce Stewart and was directed by producer John Cooper. I found the first story of the TV series engaging.

I should point out that as the episodes were shown on ATV, it did require them to go to commercial breaks. So the episodes were divided into two parts, much like the ‘Bless this House’ episodes were.

In the first story, Spencer Banks as young boy Simon is on holiday with the Skinners, which includes Derek Benfield as father Frank, Iris Russell as mother Jean and their daughter Cheryl Burfield as Liz. 🙂

They’re holidaying in the village of St. Oswald. It turns out that father Frank served at the naval research base during World War II, which has now been abandoned. There, Frank suffered amnesia.

Also staying at St. Oswald is Denis Quilley as Charles Traynor. He reveals that he was once Skinner’s commanding office at the base during the war. Traynor seems to know of Frank’s past at the base. 😐

Eventually, when playing out near the ruins of the naval base, Liz and Simon encounter the ‘time barrier’ for the first time. Whether created at the naval base or by something else, I’m not certain. 😐

Liz and Simon get transported back to 1940 where Germans took over the base. By Germans, I mean a U-Boat crew. 😀 It’s like ‘Dad’s Army’s ‘The Deadly Attachment’“Your name will go on ze list!” 😀

Leading the Germans is Sandor Elès as Gottfried (sounds like Godfrey to me 😀 ). They also encounter a young Traynor who doesn’t recognise the children. He’s the commander of the base at the time. 😐

There’s also Liz’s father, who is a young naval recruit played by John Alkin. A link is maintained to the present via Liz’s mum, able to communicate telepathically with her daughter – not clearly explained.

Just to talk about the two main leads, I did enjoy them in the first story. They do have contrasting personalities. Simon is a bit know-it-all; Liz is a bit of a cry-baby. This leads to conflict between them.

I’d like to think that the kids do become friends as the series progresses. That’s something for me to discover when we get into the next three stories. It’s also intriguing how time travel works for them.

First, they meet young Traynor who isn’t willing to trust them on arrival. Liz is also distressed about meeting her father as a younger man, since he doesn’t know she is his daughter and he mustn’t know.

There is another girl who enters the time barrier first before Liz and Simon. That girl happens to be Sally Templer as Sarah. She doesn’t do much except cry and whimper a lot in the first four episodes.

The story also features Royston Tickner as George Bradley who runs an inn that the Skinners stay at in the tale. I’ve seen Royston Tickner before in ‘Episode One’ of ‘The Sea Devils’ with Jon Pertwee. 🙂

He was also in ‘The Feast of Steven’ episode of ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ with William Hartnell. Intriguing how his character turned out to be more than just an innkeeper as he had a gun on him. 😮

There’s a cliffhanger at the end of ‘Episode Five’ where Liz gets shot by a German. Yet in ‘Episode Six’, the bullet doesn’t harm her, which confirms Traynor’s theory in 1970 that the kids are not in danger.

Um, I don’t think that’s how time travel works! Maybe Liz hallucinated, but I’m sure the past would harm her and Simon if they travelled back in time. ‘Doctor Who’s time travel is very different to that.

It was interesting to see Gottfried and Traynor’s relationship in the story. Gottfried tries to persuade Traynor to hear him, speaking of a bright future, and getting him reveal the plans for the naval base.

Traynor refuses to reveal the naval base’s plans though since the UK and Germany are at war with each other. Liz and Simon also help to save young Frank Skinner so he can finish his task for Traynor.

After Liz says a tearful farewell to young Frank, she and Simon make an escape back home through the ‘time barrier’. But instead of returning to St. Oswald in 1970, they end up in some icy wilderness.

‘The Wrong End of Time’ is a good opening story in the ‘Timeslip’ series. It was interesting to see how Liz and Simon coped with travelling back to World War II and what dangers they encountered. 🙂

The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1 of the ‘Timeslip’ DVD box set; there’s an image gallery which contains photographs of the TV series as well as the mini-episode ‘Beyond the Barrier’ and the making-of documentary ‘Behind the Barrier’.

‘The Wrong End of Time’ rating – 8/10

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