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Out of the Unknown Stranger in the Family (1965–1971) Online

Out of the Unknown Stranger in the Family (1965–1971) Online
Original Title :
Stranger in the Family
Genre :
TV Episode / Drama / Horror / Sci-Fi
Year :
Directror :
Alan Bridges
Cast :
Richard O'Callaghan,Justine Lord,Eric Lander
Writer :
David Campton
Type :
TV Episode
Time :
Rating :
Out of the Unknown Stranger in the Family (1965–1971) Online

A young man, known as 'Boy', is born with no fingernails and with mental powers that enable him to control others. He falls for a young actress, initially repulsed, whose agent-boyfriend encourages the relationship because he thinks Boy's powers can be used to make a lot of money via TV commercials. But he is being hunted by a mysterious surveillance team who have moved into the next-door flat in the tower block where he lives...
Episode cast overview:
Richard O'Callaghan Richard O'Callaghan - Boy
Justine Lord Justine Lord - Paula
Eric Lander Eric Lander - Sonny
Peter Copley Peter Copley - Charles Wilson
Daphne Slater Daphne Slater - Margaret Wilson
John Paul John Paul - Brown
Jack May Jack May - Evans
Joby Blanshard Joby Blanshard - Hall
Brian Vaughan Brian Vaughan - Swain
Maurice Podbrey Maurice Podbrey - Director
Clive Graham Clive Graham - Assistant
Bay White Bay White - Mrs. Pain
Peter Thornton Peter Thornton - Lorry driver

User reviews



Expertly directed by Alan Bridges, also responsible for the satisfyingly low-key and effective Brit sci-fi movie "Invasion" of the same year as well as more prestigious dramas later, this instalment of Out Of The Unknown is among the best of the series that I've seen so far. The depth of atmosphere and mood it evokes belies its modest video-taped production. Beyond Bridges direction, this mood is attributable to Richard O'Callaghan's sensitive and extremely eerie portrayal of the mutant boy. His emphatic but quietly spoken instructions to his hapless "victims" compelling them to his telepathic will provide several genuinely unnerving moments (the bathtub sequence is quite brilliant).

Along with a supporting cast who all take their parts gratifyingly seriously, further atmosphere is provided by good lighting (especially for video of the period) and some very cannily chosen electronic music cues.

Stranger In The Family is not without flaws, however. A sub-plot involving a desperate actress and her pimping agent doesn't really work. Although important to the story (providing both a sexual angle and a more interesting but ultimately under-developed dig at advertising), it feels unequal to it because of their somewhat clichéd characterisation. Also, the bare fact is that writer David Campton has obviously and rather blatantly "borrowed" huge chunks of ideas, plot-points and even dialogue from "Children Of The Damned" (sequel to "Village Of The Damned") made a few years earlier. To be fair he makes mostly good use of them, and some of the boy's more anguished speeches are interestingly written and evoke a palpable sense of "otherness". But it remains a quite derivative piece over all. Thankfully cast and crew elevate it.

Ironically, a year later and on the other side of the Atlantic, the "Charlie X" episode of Star Trek came to closely resemble Stranger In The Family - both had an unstable, sexually jealous telepathic teenager unable to suppress a psychic rage. It seems MANY owe John Wyndham A LOT one way or another.

Nevertheless, full marks to the cast and crew of this BBC production.


Out of the Unknown: Stranger in the Family is set in London where Charles (Peter Copley) & Margaret Wilson (Daphne Slater) live in a small flat with their son Charles Jr. who they simply call Boy (Rochard O'Callaghan), however Boy has tremendous telepathic powers that allow him to make anyone do what he wants as well as read minds. Having spent their lives moving from one place to next in order to protect Boy he falls in love with an actress named Paula Wild (Justine Lord) whose agent Sonny (Eric Lander) thinks he can exploit Boy's powers once he finds out about them, meanwhile a Government team lead by Professor Evans (Jack may) has been tracking Boy in order to observe & study him & one member of the team grows to really dislike Boy & what he is & tries to kill him. Boy also realises that Paula is just using him to make money & so starts to use his great powers to gain revenge...

Episode three from season one of this British produced sci-fi television series Stranger in the Family was directed by Alan Bridges & was one of only two original screenplays & not based on an existing story or work during the first season of Out of the Unknown, while this starts off really good I did think it lost it's way a little towards the end which is a shame as Stranger in the Family was so very nearly great. The premise is intriguing & has a certain eerie quality as it's set in contemporary London, Out of the Unknown was devised as a sci-fi series for adults & as such every episode tried to touch upon relevant social ideas such as overbearing parents, the fear of the unknown, advertising, exploitation & anonymity here. At around 60 minutes in length a lot happens & I think the rushed ending hurts the program overall with not that much actually cleared up & while some may like the ambiguous ending I was left feeling a little bit unsatisfied. The plot is strong & the opening sequence is a really attention grabber as Boy makes a man walk out into the road & get knocked down by a van, Boy is seen using his powers for trivial reasons (guessing someone's name), the good (making Sonny leave Paula alone) & ultimately evil (to commit several murders) so I suppose the overall message here is that ultimate power ultimately corrupts (or something like that).

Originally broadcast during October 1965 & featuring some fascinating location filming Stranger in the Family is a real time capsule of 60's London & some decent production values unlike the majority of the first season of Out of the Unknown this episode doesn't feature any spaceships, robots, futuristic settings or aliens & is more of a horror thriller than overt sci-fi. Writer David Campton later reused his script for an episode also called Stranger of the family in the Hammer Studios television series Journey into the Unknown (1969) which, by all accounts but I haven't seen it myself, is not as good as this Out of the Unknown episode. The acting is pretty good & the haunting score is surprisingly effective.

Stranger on the Family has some good ideas & is quite creepy to start off with but a rushed ending that left me unsatisfied spoiled it, not a bad episode & worth a watch if you can find a copy (easier said than done, Out of the Unknown has never been commercially released anywhere on any format).


There are shades of John Wyndham in this story of a young man who calls himself a 'mutant' and who apparently has mental powers that enable him to impose his will over others, even to the extent of suicide or murder. We automatically tend to distrust the Government scientists who are tracking him and who seem to want him dead; but in an unanticipated twist, their leader manages to convince the boy's parents -- and us -- that he is in fact the only hope for a young man whom the world threatens as much as he threatens it. In a reminder of the era when it was made, the film argues that mental struggles between mutants for domination represent a safer future for mankind, since at least this form of combat does not involve the possibility of blowing up the world: the death count in this story does not seem to augur well for that result, however.

This is an ingenious variant on the 'coming of age' story, as a sheltered youth attempts to break free from the suffocating protection of his parents despite the risks -- and disillusionments -- of the outside world. Our first indication that something is seriously wrong comes when we hear the father wish, heavily and with jarring unemotional sincerity, that his son were dead...

There are moments of genuine pathos and/or terror, such as when the girl tries to scream and finds she cannot, or when Boy pleads with increasing desperation by 'normal' means for his captor to let him out of the flat, trying his utmost to avoid using his special powers. The opening shots, which suggest a high science-fiction setting, pull back cleverly to reveal that the scene in fact takes place in an aircraft museum. But the ending is marred by the protagonist's descent into high-toned but completely incomprehensible self-justification, presumably an attempt to represent concepts too advanced for 'non-mutants' to understand; the effect is that he 'gets away with it', but we are not at all sure why and rather lose sympathy.