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"This is the voice of Vrillon..."
September 23, 2013 8:09 PM   Subscribe

The alien cult that hacked British TV: In 1977 a British television channel was hijacked by someone claiming to be a space alien called ‘Vrillon’. [Via]
posted by homunculus (14 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
MeFi's own?
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Vrillon has come home ...to MeFi. Welcome. (Nice detective work, homunculus!)

BTW, great post. I still have some t-shirt my friend made me honarary member of Ashtar Command.
posted by snap_dragon at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2013


That gave me goosebumps. I had never heard of this. Neat.
posted by mrgroweler at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Vrillon! I once made a terrible garageband song featuring chunks of Vrillon, because why wouldn't you? Now I get a big article to read about it that may include things I hadn't already heard. Yay!

"We are experiencing a breakthrough in sound...." Who could fail to sample that?
posted by edheil at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find it rather confusing. Why would someone use a prank to distribute such a rational message?
posted by Goofyy at 10:39 PM on September 23, 2013


A friend in the BBC told me a while ago that this incident ruffled a lot of feathers in the establishment, which at the time was paranoid about revolutionary or disruptive elements getting access to the heavily-controlled UK airwaves. (This was around the time that the first big illegal CB craze hit the UK, which also saw a lot of official pushback. Must fpp that curious phenomenon....)

The direct result was the introduction of many security features, some of which were or are still secret. My pal was of the opinion that a repetition of this sort of incident is extremely unlikely "but seeing the stuff they broadcast these days, how could you tell?".

Incidentally, the linked article is wrong on one point - it wasn't the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 which made transmission without a licence illegal. That had been the case since the WTA 1904, successive acts being introduced as required to react to new technologies and other things that upset the Home Office.
posted by Devonian at 4:49 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The absolute best part of the whole thing is the awesome sound and noise of analog broadcasting. I miss those days.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vrillon: The Power Of The Coming Race!

Assuming this was a hoax and not space aliens, the name Vrillon intentionally or otherwise seems to share its etymological origin with Bovril, which just makes the prank seem even more charming and parochial to me. Proper Hitchhikers stuff.
posted by comealongpole at 5:36 AM on September 24, 2013


Here's the part from the linked article that confuses me just a bit...
With the sound being transmitted as an FM broadcast, it was easy to take over the transmission. All that “Vrillon” needed to do was drive up to the transmitter at Hannington, and broadcast on the same FM frequency as the transmission from the Isle of Wight.
Wouldn't that also require trailering a power generator and transmitter large enough to overwhelm the real broadcast? Even just the FM audio portion?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on September 24, 2013


Looking at the photo at the end...is Ashtar actually Alexander Skarsgard? And if so, he can take me to outer space any time.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:58 AM on September 24, 2013


They certainly seemed more ambitious than the US's own Captain Midnight in terms of their message, if not their technological prowess.
posted by TedW at 6:19 AM on September 24, 2013


Wouldn't that also require trailering a power generator and transmitter large enough to overwhelm the real broadcast? Even just the FM audio portion?

The transmitter at Hannington was acting as a repeater, taking the weak signal coming from the Isle of Wight, and rebroadcasting it at full power. You only had to be more powerful than the Isle of Wight signal.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:48 AM on September 24, 2013


Dude, the Ashtar message! It was a thing in Brazil in the 80s, people were getting these weird messages (in Portuguese, how convenient) on their tapes while trying to record something, a friend of mine got it and was really paranoid for a while, to this day he believes it was really an alien. Does anyone have any idea how this could be pulled off?
posted by Tom-B at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2013


You only had to be more powerful than the Isle of Wight signal.

And, to be clear, that's more powerful than the Isle of Wight signal as received at Hannington ... the signal strength drops off at 1/r² so if you're 1000 times closer to the receiver you only need 1,000,000th the power.
posted by nickzoic at 5:59 PM on September 25, 2013


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