With the announcement this week that the BBC is to produce another adaptation of The Day of the Triffids, the classic SF novel, we take a look at some of the other adaptations of this famous novel with its killer plants.
The Day of the Triffids has been adapted many times for television and radio, and even cinema, but it was originally a novel published in 1952 by Science Fiction author John Wyndham. Wyndham had previously written novels under a pen name but Triffids was written under his real name and is one of his more remembered novels. The novel is a post-apocalyptic novel about killer plants and that’s perhaps why the novel remains so popular to this day and such a piece of countless adaptations.
Surprisingly the first adaptation of the novel was as early as 1953, just a year after the novel was published. The adaptation was on the BBC radio service and just a few years later another BBC radio version followed in 1957, five years after the novel was published.
In 1962 a film version of the novel was released starring Howard Keel, who was probably better known for a string of Hollywood musicals of the 1950s. In the 1980s the actor appeared in The Love Boat and Dallas. While the film followed the basic plot of the novel it wasn’t a hugely faithful version of the novel and differed in several places. Some of the action in the film is moved to Spain and the ending is similar to the ending of The War of the Worlds with a simple solution stopping the Triffids and a religious overtone to the finale as well. Starring alongside Keel in the film was Carole Ann Ford, who would shortly after appear in Doctor Who, John Tate, Kieron Moore, Meryvn Johns and Janette Scott. Bernard Gordon and Phillip Yordan wrote the screenplay for the film while Steve Sekley was the director.
In 1968 there was yet another BBC radio adaptation of the novel. The 1968 version ran for six episodes and featured the voices of Peter Sallis, Barbara Shelley, David Brierley, Christopher Bidmead, Peter Pratt, Freda Dowie and Marjorie Westbury. David Bierley would later have a short-lived regular role on Doctor Who while Peter Pratt and Peter Sallis both guest-starred in the series and Christopher Bidmead became the script editor for the series in the late 1980s. The 1968 version was directed by Giles Cooper and produced by John Powell with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop providing the adaptations theme tune. In the same year a German adaptation of the novel was also made for German listeners.
In 1981 the BBC made their first television version of the novel, having produced three different radio versions of it. The 1981 series starred John Duttine, Stephen Yardley, Maurice Colbourne and Emma Relph. The adaptation of the novel was in spread over six episodes. David Maloney, who had worked on Blakes 7, was the producer of the series while all six episodes were directed by Ken Hannam. The Television version was well received at the time and still fondly remembered today, to some it’s the definitive version of the novel.
And in 2001 Lance Dann was behind a two hour long adaptation for the BBC World Service.