Interstellar travel at sub-light speeds: the enormous distances, isolation from human culture and the aching loneliness of space are enough to drive the strongest personality insane. Better... See full summary »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dr. Francis
James Hunter ...
Abel Granger
John Abineri ...
Col. Chalmers
Noel Johnson ...
Gen. Short
Robert James ...
Dr. Kersh
John Line ...
Capt. Sanger
Robert Russell ...
Sgt. Burke
Lionel Stevens ...
Captain Peters
Wendy Johnson ...
Mrs. Peters
Carla Challoner ...
Zenna Peters
Karl Lanchbury ...
Matthew Peters
John Moore ...
Matthias Granger
Joyce Donaldson ...
Mrs. Granger
Peter Bennett ...
Jeremiah Baker
Christine Lander ...
Mrs. Baker
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Storyline

Interstellar travel at sub-light speeds: the enormous distances, isolation from human culture and the aching loneliness of space are enough to drive the strongest personality insane. Better to block all memories of human contact and to program the 12-strong crew to accept only the reality they can see and touch within their spacecraft. But a child born on "the Station" becomes insistent on learning the truth about 'Outside'. Written by hutch48

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Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi

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13 December 1965 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Classic Biritish sci-fi drama with some unexpected twists & turns.

Out of the Unknown: Thirteen to Centaurus is set in the distant future where space travel has become a reality, on a huge spaceship known as 'The Station' thirteen men, women & children live in total isolation having never known anything outside. Dr. Francis (Donald Houston) conditions the other's to accept no other way of life, to forget about Earth & focus only on reaching a planet called Alpha Centauri which entails a multi generational trip lasting decades. After the funeral of Captain Peters a young teenage boy named Abel Granger (James Hunter) ask's Francis some uncomfortable questions as his subconscious memories & curiosity about the outside dominate his thinking, Francis steps up Abel's conditioning program but not everything is as it seems to be with an elaborate inhuman experiment taking place unknown to twelve of the thirteen crew...

Episode eleven from season one of the British produced television series Out of the Unknown this was directed by Peter Potter & was adapted by Stanley Miller from the story by noted author J.G. Ballard & I have to admit did surprise me on a few occasions. The first ten minutes sets up this space expedition to Alpha Centauri where the children's children of the original crew will make it because it will take so long & they are conditioned from birth to accept nothing else & I thought Thirteen to Centaurus would plod along in predictable fashion as Abel rebels & refuses the conditioning but the first major twist caught me off guard. The whole mission is nothing more than an experiment on Earth to monitor events for any future need or similar expedition with Francis behind the whole thing. It's at this point Thirteen to Centaurus suddenly became very interesting although the self centered Francis as a character is annoying & when he is told to end the experiment his obsession leads to a nicely dark twist ending in which Abel experiments on Francis in a satisfying just desserts style climax. At only sixty minutes Thirteen to Centaurus zips along & the twists & turns are really good, it's like a game of cat & mouse between captor & captive as Francis becomes one of his own experiments. The dialogue isn't as wooden as expected & feels well balanced putting both sides of the argument of the testing, the themes of isolation, being brainwashed from birth by what Governments want you to see & unethical experimentation come across really well & Thirteen to Centaurus is the second best (still existing) episode of Out of the Unknown from season one after The Counterfeit Man (1965).

Originally broadcast during December 1965 the production design is quite restrained & apart from some hideous Futuristic army uniforms Thirteen to Centaurus hasn't dated that badly at all. However, like previous episodes the electronic doors open & close with a strange noise that the production team sometimes forget to play so sometimes the noise is there & other's it's not. There are no aliens or actual space travel in this episode but the sci-fi drama elements are there & shine brightly. The acting is solid from a decent cast. While the majority of Out of the Unknown episodes have never legally seen the light of day since they were originally broadcast in the 60's Thirteen to Centaurus is the one exception as it was repeated on British television by BBC Four in 2003 as part of a J.G. Ballard retrospective.

Thirteen to Centaurus started off in quite dull sci-fi fashion but the surprising twist's make this an engaging & watchable little piece of 60's television that is well worth tracking down.


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