BBC 2004
New Kid In Town
TX : 7th January 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes: Series creator Jim Eldridge is probably best known for writing and creating the long-running radio series King Street Junior. On television his work on children's series has mainly been in the fantasy area. 1990 saw the transmission of the first of his four Uncle Jack series, while 1991 brought with it the poorly-received ITV time travel series Time Riders. The first of two seasons of Monster TV started transmission in December 1999. More recently he has written scripts for all three seasons of The Ghost Hunter. Other series he has contributed to include the highly popular children's series Spatz and the Jim Davidson sitcom Up The Elephant And Round The Castle.

Cast :
Dominic Rickhards (Mr Edgar), Guy Scantlebury (Mr Harris), Michelle Lee (Mrs Harris).

Synopsis :
The Powers Project is asked to look into the strange events taking place at a country hotel. A teenage girl named Song Li Harris is claiming that a ghost has been damaging her room, while her parents and the manager are rather more sceptical.

Notes :
New Kid in Town takes its cue from The Tomorrow People by having Song Li's new powers emerge in the opening episode. She's actually responsible for the poltergeist activity herself - many documented cases of such activity are connected with teenage girls of a similar age.

Mary was Professor Powers first subject - her powers disappeared as she got older.

CGI effects! On a BBC budget! In a children's drama!

TX : 14th January 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes: Gareth Hunt is probably best known for appearing as ex-army man Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, as well as starring in a long-running series of coffee commercials. He also appeared in the very final story of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who (Planet of the Spiders) and The Wall Came Tumbling Down, an episode of the abysmal Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense. More recently he has appeared as Charlie Doyle in the ITV soap Night & Day.

Cast :
Gareth Hunt (Tom Watkins), Phillip Wright (David Watkins), Heather Bleasdale (Janey Watkins), Dominic Barklem (Brian Watkins), Flip Webster (Sgt Webster).

Synopsis : Twenty-five years after his father was seriously injured in a quarrying accident, David Watkins drives into a quarry and disappears. His son, Brian, contacts the Powers Project via the police after reading about their work online. After Mark's attempt to use his psychic dowsing skills on David's favourite pen fail, he suggests that Song Li may have more success. Her powers finally lead them to the quarry where she finds the detonating box that David had fallen on twenty-five years earlier. She has a vision of the accident and sees that David's father was actually pushed out of the way of the explosion by another man, and from her description it seems to be David himself…

Notes :
The first standout episode. You can't beat a good time travel story (Eldridge's earlier Time Riders definitely wasn't…) and having David save his father from two separate explosions (the second in effect saving himself from the time bubble) is clever. And who'd have thought that anyone like Gareth Hunt would be appearing in the series?!

Shade In The Stone
TX : 21st January 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes:
Among Emma Bodger's other directing credits are episodes of Hollyoaks, Brookside, Where the Heart Is and episodes of the Sky One football drama Dream Team.

Cast :
Ed Browning (Evan Foster), Jon Croft (Harry Ford), Victoria Willing (Mrs Foster), James Lailey (Mr Stannard), Alan Barnes (Detective).

Synopsis : Evan Foster has been helping Harry Ford to lay pipes at his farm, and as they work they stumble across a silver chalice. Unknown to Harry, Evan also finds an inscribed amulet. The Powers Project are called in when Evan starts visiting the local museum at every available opportunity after the chalice goes on display. From viewing CCTV footage taken one night, Evan can clearly be seen standing outside the museum along with the shadow of someone else. According to the curator of the museum, Mr Stannard, the chalice is almost certainly a 10th century Anglo Saxon burial chalice, although no remains were found with it. When Harry disappears the team finally realise that someone, or something, is trying to bring the objects back together. But as Song Li points out, there weren't any bones found…

We Are Not Alone
TX : 28th January 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Brian Farnham

Behind The Scenes:
Jessica Fox had previously played Anthea in the BBC's 1997 adaptation of E Nesbit's The Phoenix and the Carpet, and played Enid Nightshade in the CITV children's dramas The Worst Witch and Weirdsister College: The Further Adventures of the Worst Witch.

Powers isn't David Mallinson's first brush with the world of children's sci-fi drama. In 2000 he played Goodman in Life Force on ITV. In 1999 he played the part of Vincent Crone in the two-part Channel 5 science thriller The Alchemists.

Cast :
Jessica Fox (Lex), David Mallinson (Dr Felton), Adam Piercy (Technician), Tim Griggs (Sergeant), David Marshallsea (Soldier).

Synopsis : The Powers team are called in to try and communicate with a girl who has been caught outside a secret research establishment. The other people with her at the time managed to get away. Neither Mark or Song Li manage to get anything from the girl, but Mark does pick up from Dr Felton that there is a possibility she may be an alien. Strange signals were picked up on the night she was captured and they can't be identified. Mark and Song Li try to communicate with her again with no one else in the room and finally find out that her name is Lex. She was on a research trip with her father and a small crew when their ship developed a fault. They landed to re-fuel it with water. Felton, meanwhile, is listening to their conversation via a bug planted in her cell. Unknown to him, Mark and Song Li are intending to break Lex out…

Notes: Excellent, and unlike The X Files it leaves no doubt that We Are Not Alone. The episode also provides a rather good alien spacecraft which certainly bodes well for the return of Doctor Who in 2005. If there's one problem with this episode it's that Mark spends too much time trying to open locked doors with his powers. It's just plain dull - there's nothing to see! No flashes of light around the locks, nothing. Just Mark straining like a constipated cow…

Land Of Nod
TX : 4th February 2004
Script : Stephen Hallett
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes: Stephen Hallett had previously written for the medical drama Doctors

Cast : Zoe Thorne (Erin), Janine Wood (Nina), Peter Geddis (William), Peggy Shields (Angie).

Synopsis : The Powers project investigate the causes of Erin's recurring dream in which she repeatedly sees an old couple named William and Angie. Song Li uses her powers to share Erin's dream and with the information Mark and Professor Powers are able to locate the house where William and Angie live.

Notes: Hmmm. So William and Angie turn out to be Erin's grandparents who gave her mother up for adoption. British sci-fi TV has a fine history of avoiding the mawkish and rather saccharine excesses that its American equivalents often fall prey to, so why start here? Nice dream sequences though.

Things That Go Bump
TX : 11th February 2004
Script : Christopher Wicking
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes:
Things That Go Bump is the only episode to be written by Christopher Wicking who is best known for writing horror films such as Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976). In the late 1970s and early 1980s he also scripted three episodes of the action series The Professionals (The Madness of Mickey Hamilton / The Gun / Discovered in a Graveyard).

Cast :
Lucy Robinson (Cora Hamilton), Blair Plant (Dr Frank Munro), Mary Roscoe (Aunt Kate), Rachel Crowther (Kelly Driscoll), Billie North, Ryan North, Louis Dunford, Lauren Hartley, Shaneeqa Duprey (Children).

Synopsis : The Powers team are asked to look into what initially appears to be a simple case of vandalism at the Hawthorne House children's home. When Mark and Professor Powers visit the home things initially seem normal until the balls from the pool table start flying around the room. Powers suspects it may just be Mark's reaction to missing his parents. While the Professor tries to track down the aunt of a former resident of the home called Kelly Driscoll, who it is thought may be behind the incidents, Mary and Song Li go along to the home where they are intending to spend the night. Soon after their arrival they witness a number of saucepan lids flying off saucepans. Later that night the home comes under attack once more…

Notes : This is the first story to feature anyone else with special powers other than Mark and Song Li. It eventually transpires that two of the children at the home (Karl and Julia) are responsible for the strange goings on

Is There Anybody Out There?
TX : 18th February 2004
Script : Stephen Hallett
Director : Brain Farnham

Behind The Scenes: Brian Farnham's fantasy credits date back to the early 1970s when he was responsible for directing an episode of the BBC horror anthology Dead Of Night (Death Cancels All Debts). More recently he has directed no less than nine of the first twenty episodes of BUGS - including the first episode, Out of the Hive, and four episodes of Crime Traveller. Other recent work has also been for Carnival Films and has included episodes of the detective series Rosemary & Thyme and feature-length episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot. In 1992 he produced and directed the TV version of Fay Weldon's Growing Rich which starred Gary and Martin Kemp.

Cast :
Katie Sheridan (Sam Ryan), Alison Lomas (Julia Ryan), Bruce McGregor (Ned Thomson), Philip Brook (Mr Cargill), Eluned Jones (Mrs Cargill), Ben Robinson (Tim Cargill), Kieron Forsyth (Frank Morris).

Synopsis : The Powers team investigate the strange disappearance of Ned Thomson who has been captured on video apparently being abducted by aliens.

Notes: Ned wasn't abducted by aliens. It was a hoax to get more guests staying at the farm. But the people staying in one of the cottages are, in actual fact, aliens. Who promptly do a runner in their UFO. Right… AMAZING COINCIDENCES = BAD STORYTELLING. The worst episode by a country mile…

I'll Be Watching You
TX : 25th February 2004
Script : Carolyn Sally Jones
Director : Brain Farnham

Behind The Scenes:
I'll Be Watching You is the first of three episodes by Carolyn Sally Jones. Other shows she has written for include Casualty, Heartbeat, the detective drama Wycliffe and The Bill. In 1999 her BBC adaptation of Pig Heart Boy won a Children's BAFTA for Best Drama and she is the writer behind the current Look and Read serial Shadow Play.

Fiona Gillies other credits include Casualty, The Jury, and the spooky 1993 Taggart story Gingerbread. In 1995 she appeared in Pulse, the last episode of BUGS first season and played Becky Johnson, Mark's ex-wife, in both seasons of the incredibly underrated sitcom Joking Apart.

Cast :
Buster Reece (Ian), Dean Cook (Dean), Alice O'Connell (Roz), Fiona Gillies (Mel).

Synopsis : Mark is taken along by Professor Powers to talk to a boy called Ian, who his aunt believes may be being bullied. Ian suffers from vertigo and is dared by Dean to walk along a wall. Initially he stumbles, but a light appears at the end of the wall and he calmly walks along it. Later, Mark picks up a stray thought from Ian: he believes someone is looking after him. He also picks up a strange photo that Ian has dropped. Back at the lab Mary identifies the photo as being an aura photo. When Song Li takes the photo she gets an image of Mel and Ian being involved in a car accident and also senses another presence was there with them. Talking to Mel they find out that that they had been to the local fair where Ian had had the photo taken. On the way home a lorry pulled out from a junction, but before Mel had even seen the lorry she heard a voice telling her to pull over. Ian believes he has a guardian angel and when Mary does some looking into the subject she finds that the phenomenon usually vanishes after about three days. It's now three days since the accident and Dean has dared Ian to walk along the scaffolding in an old church…

Notes: There's two problems with this episode. 1) It's boring as hell. 2) There's just no reason for the Powers team to become involved. Mel thinks Ian may be being bullied. And? That's a reason to ask for help from an old friend who happens to be researching the paranormal, in what way exactly? If Mel's in charge of the club she should have had some training in dealing with these situations. And now I come to think of it, 3) the whole Ian, Dean and Roz thing, and the idea of daring someone to do something was done so much better with Robert, Niker and Kate in the BBC's adaptation of Feather Boy which started just three weeks later.

The Uninvited
TX : 3rd March 2004
Script : Carolyn Sally Jones
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes:
Rupert Holliday Evans is a familiar face on television having appeared in series as varied as Between the Lines, A Touch of Frost and Second Sight. Comedy fans may remember him as one of the Double-Take Brothers in The Harry Enfield Show.

Mandana Jones is probably known for her role as prisoner Nikki Wade in the first three seasons of the ITV prison drama Bad Girls. Guest roles have included parts in Holby City, The Afternoon Play and a recent episode of Born and Bred (A Small Flourish).

Cast :
Stefan Baisden (Ben Walsh), Sean Francis (Paul Walsh), Naomi Simpson (Fran Ingram), Billie-Claire Wright (Mrs Ingram), Charlotte Eaton, Simon Holmes (Park Attendants).

Synopsis : Mary gets a call from the husband of one of her friends who died the previous year. His son, Ben, has been looking for their dog which has run away, and he is now telling stories about returning home and finding his father missing and an unknown woman and girl living in their house. After Mark and Song Li become involved, Professor Powers comes up with the theory that they may be dealing with a parallel universe linked to ours via a wormhole. The only problem being that the other universe is becoming unstable and may be starting to affect our own…

Notes: Another of the seasons highlights, and the only outstanding one not to be written by Jim Eldridge.

Face Value
TX : 10th March 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Emma Bodger

Behind The Scenes: The producer of Powers was Chris Le Grys who had previously been in charge of the bizarre ITV soap Night & Day. Other people on Powers who had previously worked on Night & Day include the two directors, Brian Farnham and Emma Bodger, writer John Jackson, and actors Dominic Rickhards and Gareth Hunt who appear in the first two episodes.

Cast :
Florence Bell (Toni), Stephen Rashbrook (Dr Nolan), Annie Fitzmaurice (Nancy).

Synopsis : A car crashes and a teenage girl climbs out of the back completely injured and walks away leaving a man and woman unconscious in the car. She walks down the local high street and into an electrical shop. As she looks at the televisions the pictures all change to show the crashed car. Later, at the local police station, she manages to turn the alarm on and off and open a locked police car which has the keys inside. The police contact the Powers Project to see if they can help. Meanwhile, the woman who was in the crashed car is being interviewed by Dr Nolan who needs to know if Toni caused the crash - they don't know what she might be capable of. Back at the Powers Project and the professor is seeing how Toni does on a reaction test where the user has to use their powers to predict which areas in a computer game will become active. Rather surprisingly she blows it out of the water and has a 100% record. Song Li is unable to pick up any emotion from her at all. Meanwhile, Dr Nolan has received a report that Toni was with the police. She's unstable and could be dangerous if any more pressure is put on her…

Notes: The explanation of what Dr Nolan's team are up to is nicely done. You could easily be forgiven for thinking they are up to something far more sinister than just looking for a malfunctioning android - very X Files. And in the scene where Toni picks up a rock as Song Li crouches down at the edge of the lake you're very unsure what the result may be. Excellent.

In The Loop
TX : 17th March 2004
Script : Carolyn Sally Jones
Director : Brain Farnham

Cast :
Amber Noble (Becky Goodson), Robert Perkins (Neil Goodson), Maggie Hayes (Moira Goodson), Peter Barich (Air Traffic Controller).

Synopsis : Mark and Dr Holland go to investigate an area where aircraft have reported instrumentation problems. Initially suspecting it to be caused by ley lines, they soon find themselves with a strange sense of déjà vu…

Notes: There's a problem with stories about time loops. If they're not interesting, the third time you see the same scene from a slightly different angle and with slightly different dialogue you want to throw something at the screen. There's a problem with stories about time loops. If they're not interesting…

Alright, so it's a cheap joke, but you get the point. If you're going to have part of the story repeating, you need a bit of action to hold the interest. Having a JCB turning over a large stone doesn't really cut the mustard…

A bigger problem for this story is that the concept is far from original in TV sci-fi. Meglos, a 1980 Tom Baker Doctor Who story, had the Doctor and Romana trapped in a chronic hysteresis (time loop to you and me) from which they could only escape by repeating the sequence of events in the brief time before loop starts again. The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Cause and Effect had the Enterprise repeatedly colliding with the USS Bozeman which had disappeared eighty years earlier. More recently The X Files used a time loop in the season six episode Monday, in which a woman repeatedly tries to stop Mulder and Scully from being killed in an explosion when a bank robbery goes wrong.

Future Box
TX : 24th March 2004
Script : Jim Eldridge
Director : Brian Farnham

Behind The Scenes: This episode was followed by a webchat with Adam Jessop and Amy Yamazaki.

Cast :
Sean Baker (Professor Dixon), William Tapley (Adult Mark), Naoko Mori (Adult Song Li).

Synopsis : Professor Dixon brings along a device called a Future Box which should enable the user to get a glimpse of his or her future. Mark is eager to find out if he will be rich and famous and is the first to try the machine. Ignoring Dixon's warning, he interacts with his future self who is quite definitely rich, but whose means of acquiring his wealth are somewhat less than ethical…

Notes: Excellent stuff! Possible futures for both Mark and Song Li - neither of which impress the current day versions, a genuine sense of threat in some scenes and an exciting finale. Definitely the best episode of the season.

The Future Is Yours
TX : 31st March 2004
Script : John Jackson
Director : Brian Farnham

Behind The Scenes: David Dakar has appeared in literally dozens of other programmes including a number of telefantasy shows. In Doctor Who he played Irongron and Captain Rigg in The Time Warrior and Nightmare of Eden respectively, and appeared as Josiah Freston in the superb adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Other memorable roles include the thuggish Jarvis in the very final episode of Porridge and Captain Spiker in the popular teatime adventure series Dick Turpin.

Cast :
Michael Obiora (Tyrone Lewis), David Dakar (Mike Knowles), Arthur Whybrow (Morris), Natasha Williams (Mrs Lewis).

Synopsis : As a birthday surprise Mark is taken to see the FA Cup, which is currently on display at Stanford Rovers FC. While there he takes a penalty on the pitch, which is saved by a young player called Tyrone Lewis who simply turned around and caught the ball as if he knew where it was going be. It soon emerges that Tyrone didn't just see where the ball was going to be. He's also had a vision of the FA Cup being stolen from its display case while Mark and Song Li are present…

Notes: Mark and Song Li get to put their powers to slightly more use than usual when they have to stop a trophy cabinet falling on them. The episode ends with Tyrone being asked to join the project.

Created by Jim Eldridge, Powers made it's BBC One debut in January 2004 as part of the new season of programmes.

Promoted as a children's version of The X Files, the series is based around a paranormal research group know as the Powers Project. In charge is Professor Henry Powers whose main subject is fourteen year Mark Roberts who is staying with Dr Mary Holland (who also used to have special powers) for six weeks while his parents are in Africa.

powers include telepathy and telekinesis. The fourth and final member of the team is Song Li Harris whose powers only come to light in the opening episode. Unlike Mark, her telekinetic powers aren't very strong but she is able to detect emotions and is able to see images of past events while handling objects.

While superficially it would appear to be little different from earlier series such as The Tomorrow People or The Delta Wave, Powers managed to steer clear of the super-villains and alien invasions that caused so many problems for the heroes of the earlier shows.

Where they often had threats of a global nature, Powers stuck to rather smaller problems that, in general, occurred to individuals. Subjects covered in the thirteen episodes include ghosts, time bubbles, ancient curses, alien visitations, guardian angels, parallel universes and precognition.

While Jim Eldridge wrote six of the episodes himself , the remaining seven were split between Stephen Hallett, Carolyn Sally Jones, Christopher Wicking and John Jackson. Unfortunately, the series suffered a slight but noticeable dip in quality halfway through the season and its significant that this coincides with the first four episodes not written by Eldridge.

Of the thirteen episodes, the undisputed highlight was the penultimate episode Future Box which showed possible futures for both Mark and Song Li. Other episodes of note were the alien visitation episode We Are Not Alone, the parallel universe episode The Uninvited and Face Value. One thing that is noticeable about the stand out episodes is that they all contain a certain element of threat, something which is too often lacking in children's drama these days.

The series has since been repeated several times on the digital CBBC channel. Unfortunately, the powers that be have decided that a second season doesn't fit in with their plans. The series is not commercially available at present.

Text © Kieran Seymour, 2004.

Portrayed By
Professor Henry Powers
Rupert Holliday Evans
Dr Mary Holland
Mandana Jones
Mark Roberts
Adam Jessop
Song Li Harris
Amy Yamazaki

The series was created by Jim Eldridge. Episodes were transmitted on BBC 1 on Wednesdays between 4:25pm and 5:00pm.