The Tomorrow People

Jaunt: A Viewer’s Guide to THE TOMORROW PEOPLE – book review

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The revised edition of Jaunt tackles three iterations of The Tomorrow People on screen, plus much more. 

If you mention The Tomorrow People to a fellow cult television fan, the response often differs depending on their age. For many, it’s the much-loved 1970s children’s series, while for others it’s the 1990s version. More recently, in 2013, the concept received a short-lived American reboot too, tilting towards a teen audience on the CW.

On all three occasions, the show sees individuals “breaking out” as they develop new abilities; combined with a pacifist streak, “Homo superior” exhibit psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation. The book takes its name from the last of those abilities, known as jaunting in the original show.

Andy Davidson’s Jaunt was first released in 2013, on the eve of that US remake. Now, almost a decade on, he returns with an updated edition.

As well as casting a critical eye over the CW show, the new edition includes new material; there are additional cast interviews, creator Roger Price’s original pitch document and a wider look at the television landscape in which each of the show’s iterations was produced.

Episode Guides

Jaunt explores every story from each version of The Tomorrow People in detail, with a story synopsis, an episode breakdown and a review. Sections include Production, Superior Scripting (covering notable lines of dialogue) and The Jaunty Angle. The latter takes wry look at each story and provides a wealth of witty observations and acerbic asides. These generated numerous laugh-out-loud moments – one of our favourites describes a story as “… an adventure which looks like a preschool educational programme written by Oliver Stone”. Another comments that “There hasn’t been chroma key fringing this bad for a while. Maybe they’ve all been eating Ready Brek?”

The reviews themselves provide a thoughtful consideration of the show’s merits and themes, always considering its young audience. Davidson is never afraid to call out casual racism and poor stereotypes where they appear.

Across the exploration of the show’s eight seasons, as well as a look at the abortive ninth, there are various references to Doctor Who. As contemporary shows, they shared the odd member of production staff, such as composer Dudley Simpson and director Paul Bernard, and even offered Peter Davison his own, highly memorable televised role in ‘A Man for Emily’.

After concluding the 1970s show, the book moves on to detail its 1990s remake, which it describes as growing into a “kiddie-friendly” version of The Avengers (the 1960s British television series not the American comics, naturally). As the plots get more nonsensical, the comic observations sparkle. Made for itv and Nickelodeon, it ran for three seasons, with future movie star Naomie Harris in the cast at one point.

Audio continuation

More generally positive is the coverage of Big Finish’s audio continuation of the original series, produced in the 2000s. It brought back Nicholas Young as John alongside a new cast, with occasional guest star returnees. Sadly, once again, its run was cut short – in this case due to a loss of rights, rather than the industrial action which put paid to the original television show.

The Tomorrow People 2013 The CW

Finally, the book struggles through all 22 episodes of the 2013 US remake of the show. There’s a fair-handed approach here, credit is given where its due, but unfortunately, it’s not that often.

The remainder is a treasure trove; it covers all The Tomorrow People’s prose adventures, plus comic strip appearances in Look-In. The reproduction of Roger Price’s original pitch sows the seeds of so much that followed, while Paul Bernard’s production files are simply fascinating – offering an insight into the wealth of administration required to mount a television show and the myriad of decisions required along the way.

In summary

Jaunt is a terrific book. It is interesting to note that Davidson was not an avowed fan to begin with – his affection for the series grew with the project. More than just an episode guide, he offers an honest, critical and often hilarious evaluation of the show’s different incarnations. One warning though, it’s almost guaranteed to trigger a re-watch of the television show… and possibly an expensive eBay habit to collect those hard-to-find audio dramas too!


Jaunt: A Viewer’s Guide to THE TOMORROW PEOPLE is available from Ten Acre Films.