Out of the Unknown – Stranger In The Family

stranger

Written by David Compton
Directed by Alan Bridges

Charles Wilson (Peter Copley) stands at the window of his flat, his eighteen year-old son by his side.  Wilson tells him that “down there swarm the ordinary millions. When they stumble across anything they are not used to they panic, they destroy”.

Wilson’s son, known simply as “Boy” (played by Richard O’Callaghan) is the thing they would seek to destroy.  Boy is a mutant – he possesses amazing mental powers which allow him to read minds and command anybody to instantly obey his will.  Because of these gifts, his parents are forced to move him from place to place whenever anybody becomes suspicious.

But it seems that wherever they go, they will always attract attention.  Brown (John Paul) has moved into the flat next door and seems very intersted in Boy.  It becomes clear very quickly that he’s part of a team (headed by Evans, played by Jack May) who have a very definite interest in him.  Then Boy becomes infatuated with Paula (Justine Lord), a beautiful young actress, but she also has her own agenda.  Will he be able to control himself or will they all push him into terrible acts?

After two futuristic tales, OOTU came back to contemporary Earth with a bump.  Although the majority of stories from the first three series were adaptations of existing material, there were also several original ones – of which this, written by David Compton, was the first.

It’s a pity that the original film inserts no longer exist, as this renders the opening sequences (where we see Boy wandering the streets pursued by a mysterious stranger) somewhat indistinct.  Richard O’Callaghan (the son of Patricia Hayes) is engaging as the confused, gentle Boy who has powers that he sometimes finds difficult to control.

John Paul (later to star in Doomwatch) is smooth as the mysterious Brown, whilst his future Doomwatch co-star Joby Blanshard also appears (he’s the unfortunate Hall who’s forced into the path of a lorry by Boy).  Brown blames Boy for Hall’s death and becomes increasingly antagonistic towards him.

As might be expected, the ending is pretty downbeat.  Featuring few science fiction trappings, this operates much more as a slice of contemporary drama (although there is a slightly surreal edge to Alan Bridges’ direction, as he tends to focus things from Boy’s point of view – best seen in the opening film sequences).

Whilst this does feel a little drawn out at just under 60 minutes, the quality of the cast (Richard O’Callaghan, John Paul, Peter Copley and Justine Lord amongst others) helps to maintain the impetus of the episode.

Next Up – The Dead Past

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