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This post is just in time for the annual spaghetti harvest.
June 20, 2012 10:28 AM   Subscribe

In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets.

Background
* WFMU
* Museum of Hoaxes
* Mental Floss
* Wikipedia

Conspiracy Theorists Who Claim It's All True
* ZetaTalk
* Above Top Secret
* Thule.org
* Bibliotecapleyades

Alternate Video Link
* Google Video

The Book
"Alternative 3" was written and published by Leslie Watkins. Free download in multiple formats from archive.org.
posted by zarq (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember this (would have been 7 or 8). I picked the book up in later years at college. You could get a away with any old nonsense in those days.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2012


Random bits of trivia, all from Wikipedia:

* The programme was originally meant to be broadcast on April Fools Day, 1977.
* The episode was written by David Ambrose and Chris Miles
* Brian Eno composed the music.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2012


Actually, you can get away with any old nonsense these days too. I'm looking at you, Da Vinci Code.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 10:36 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sooo... how long do we have to change planets?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


More importantly, how long do I have to change my pants?
posted by The Deej at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The United States government went underground, at Mount Weather and numerous other spots, as has been documented to the satisfaction of even the skeptical reader. This fact is not even being denied by the government any more.

Me: Can I see some of this documentation?
Them: You've already been satisfied.
posted by DU at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2012


Can't really comment right now, as I'm on the piste to Echus Overlook and the satellite reception in Tharsis is horrible, but I love these historical posts!
posted by dhartung at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


By then, it was too late: we'd seen it all.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:41 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's with all the hoax links?
posted by mwhybark at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2012


mwhybark: "What's with all the hoax links?"

If you mean, in the post, I wanted to show that this one little "mockumentary" made to tweak conspiracy theorists is still(!) spawning conspiracy theories, 35 years later.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2012


*Love* that countdown clock at the very beginning.
posted by NoMich at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2012


Put on Brian Eno's Alternative 3 while you listen.... if you dare
posted by moonmilk at 10:51 AM on June 20, 2012


Does that mean we don't get to change planets?
posted by ubiquity at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2012


This post is just in time for the annual spaghetti harvest.
I'm still watching the film, but just wanted to point out the awesome heading.
posted by Jehan at 10:57 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fantastic. I love this sort of stuff, especially the conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theorists fascinate me to no end, and this one is a nice, deep rabbit hole.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:04 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Love* that countdown clock at the very beginning.

The viewers would have seen this, the single best station ident ever. I miss the ITV regions.
posted by bebrogued at 11:17 AM on June 20, 2012


I'm still watching the film, but just wanted to point out the awesome heading.

A reference to another famous UK April fool (YouTube)
posted by Z303 at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2012


I can't believe I've never heard of this before! What a cool idea for a hoax broadcast; thanks so much for posting this!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watching this over lunch today, pretty damn interesting how they presented it (and I would love to know how many takes of certain scenes were done) - I like how they put in the disasters (how many were real events, how many were bullshit made up for the story) in with the plot. Reminded me of how Doctor Who used the missing bees as a plot device.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2012


Greg, you're very welcome! :)

And Jehan, thanks!
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on June 20, 2012


Totally awesome.
posted by XMLicious at 3:05 PM on June 20, 2012


Of a similar-ish sort of thing Ghostwatch.
posted by Mezentian at 2:09 AM on June 25, 2012


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