What a pleasant change to see science fiction being treated seriously and played straight! Hot on the heels of the Patrick Stewart vehicle "Eleventh Hour" comes a remake of the seven-part 1961 serial "A for Andromeda" as a follow-up to last year's BBC4 remake of "The Quatermass Experiment". Richard Fell was given the task of updating and condensing astronomer Fred Hoyle and John Elliot's original, and actress Kelly Reilly, starring alongside Tom Hardy, Jane Asher and David Haig, became the third actress to play Andromeda, following in the footsteps of Julie Christie and Susan Hampshire.
The story opens with a listening station picking up a signal from the Andromeda Galaxy that turns out to be instructions, in binary, detailing how to build a super-computer. Once active, the computer kills one of the scientific community, Christine, and creates a living being, with all the machine's knowledge, in her image. The themes of mankind's arrogance, humanity's inability to self-discipline, and the self-sacrifice of the Andromedan android, making her more human than human, have undoubtedly been done-to-death over the past 45 years but probably seemed fresh to a television audience in the early '60s.
References to E-mails and Firewalls, early on, placed the story in the modern world as did the now seemingly-obligatory popular culture reference, in this instance to "Deep Space Nine", though in a much less heavy-handed fashion than crowbaring three lowbrow game shows into the penultimate episode of last year's season of "Doctor Who"! Ultimately, like the mid-1970s' "Doctor Who" story "The Brain of Morbius", "A for Andromeda" is a reworking of "Frankenstein", a morality tale warning us of the error of playing God. There are a further two opportunities to see the production this coming Friday, again on BBC4.