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While the serial is characterised by its exploration of SF themes around the perils of new technologies and the potential dangers of an unexplored galaxy, expressing cultural anxieties about a burgeoning international space industry, we cannot divorce its success from spectacle.

Despite its small screen format, the climax of the serial is spectacular, involving a terrifying confrontation with the alien monster, in the form of Kneale’s handmade glove puppet, in Westminster Abbey, made televisually famous during the Coronation.

For instance, up until a few years ago, these factors lead to a common argument that the horror genre was not appropriate for television, a belief that Lorna Jowett and I have challenged elsewhere (2013).

Television, however, is often viewed as an ideal place for science fiction because these technological factors have meant that TV SF is not distracted by special effects and spectacle but able to concentrate on the ideas, themes and characters that underpin the genre, leading to the prevalence of literary adaptations such as George Orwell’s (BBC 1984).

Having built up a cult fan base for the original series through success in syndication and its subsequent resurrection for the cinema, the new show could not return to low-budget, comparatively small-scale production.

(Paramount 1987-94) had to be blockbuster television in order to meet and/or exceed audience expectations and bring them back to the ‘small’ screen.

This transition is embodied in serial’s signature images of giant alien space ships appearing the sky above every major city and landmark on the planet, pre-dating a similar moment in the blockbuster SF film (ABC 1978-79), was brought on to build upon the visual success of the original series by embedding its drama of human survival against fascist dictatorship within a dazzling display of elaborate effects, including 300 laser shots (at 00 each) and an additional 700 effects (James 1984).The mobilizing of the blockbuster potential for ‘bigness’ with respect to science fiction has played a role within the changing broadcast context of television.For instance in the American three-network era (TVI), in which ratings success were measuredly purely on the size of the audience, science-fiction has historically suffered, most famously by (NBC 1966-69) as its loyal fans were not sufficient for NBC to see the benefit of keeping the show on the air (Pearson and Messenger Davies 2014).To begin this discussion historically, television production and broadcast was, for the longest time, perceived to be too technologically limited to be a vehicle for the spectacular display we associate with the cinematic blockbuster.These perceived limitations – low budget, limited special effects, small screen, poor resolution – have impacted on what has been deemed achievable and suitable for the ‘small’ screen.

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