The development of man hasn't just suddenly stopped. It's going on all the time. In the last hundred years, everything has speeded up. The world has changed out of all recognition, and human beings have changed with it.
- Carol, from episode one of The Tomorrow People
The story was about young people in the next stage of human evolution. The Homo-Superiors, or Tomorrow People as they called themselves, TP for short. They possessed special abilities such as teleportation, called 'jaunting', telekinesis and telepathy. It was their mission to save the human race and restore peace on Earth.
The series consisted of stories that spanned two to six episodes, each lasting about 25 minutes. In each adventure the Tomorrow People would do whatever it took to save the world from destruction, battle against hostile aliens or strive to protect their identity from the government - a government who want to use the TP's powers for national defence, violence in other words, which is against the principles of the Tomorrow People.
The show was made in the 1970s, so the special effects were not as sophisticated they are today. The special effects usually involved mediocre and unconvincing beeping, humming and lights to emphasise jaunting or the use of their futuristic gadgets.
Each new series would usually introduce a new Tomorrow Person, sometimes replacing a character from the previous. These are some of the most relevant characters from the series.
John (Nicholas Young, series one to eight) is the leader of the Tomorrow People, and is the only TP to last through all eight series.
Stephen (Peter Vaughan-Clarke, series one to four) is the newest TP, who was introduced in the first story. He is often adventurous and one to take risks.
Carol (Sammie Winmill, series one) was the only female TP in the first series, but Sammie Winmill didn't renew her contract for the second series. In the story, Carol's absence is attributed to the fact that she is representing Earth in the Galactic Federation.
Elizabeth (Elizabeth Adare, series two to eight) is Carol's replacement. She was a student teacher at Stephen's school, and when she broke out, the term for when a future Tomorrow Person is going through the stage in which he or she acquires their special powers, Stephen and John convinced her to join them.
Mike (Mike Holoway, series four to eight) became a TP after the others found out about him when he was using his powers to open locks, and was involved in a bank break-in. Mike turned out to be good, after all. In addition to being a Tomorrow Person, he is also the drummer in a pop band, the Fresh Hearts.
Ginge (Michael Standing, series one) is a sap1. He was originally a henchman of Jedikiah, a villain, but then changed to the good side, and became a friend and colleague of the Tomorrow People. When Ginge left the show, his character was replaced by Chris (Christopher Chittell), Ginge's brother.
TIM (voiced by Philip Gilbert, series one to eight) is very similar to HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. TIM is a biological computer, who is capable of original thought, and does not require special programming. TIM is built into the ceiling of the Tomorrow People's headquarters.
On a few occasions, Philip Gilbert appeared in the series as a live character rather than a disembodied voice. He played Timus and Tikno, clones that became important allies of the TP. One of their other clones provided TIM's speech capabilities, which explains the identical voices of TIM, Timus and Tikno.
The series also featured many guest stars including the following:
David Prowse, better known as the man in the Darth Vader suit from the Star Wars movies, the 'Green Cross Man' from a series of road safety adverts in the 1970s, and as Hotblack Desiato's bodyguard in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy television mini series.
Sandra Dickenson, also from the Hitchhiker television series, who played opposite her future husband Peter Davison, who later played the fifth Doctor Who.
Burt Kwouk who played Kato in the Pink Panther movies.
Trevor Bannister, familiar to British television viewers as Mr Lucas of Are You Being Served?
The Tomorrow People's headquarters, or The Lab as it was called, was hidden in a derelict London Underground station which they used as an epicenter for their operations, living quarters and a store in which to keep futuristic equipment such as:
- Jaunting belts - The TP were unable to jaunt long distances without special belts which they wore at all times. These allowed them to jaunt across the world or into space. Otherwise their jaunting powers only worked for very short distances.
- Stun guns - The TP were unable to deliberately kill and could not use serious violence. This could cause difficult situations when they encountered hostile people or aliens. The solution to this was stun guns that would knock out their enemy or enemies for a few minutes. When fired, the stun gun would make a small hissing noise and cause a burst of light.
- AE Suits - AE means 'Adaptable to any Environment'. These were suits that covered the entire body and were complete with a helmet. In these, the Tomorrow People could breath oxygen, stay warm in a cold environment and stay cool in a hot environment. The suits could also change appearance, so as to avoid attention. Like a Babelfish, they could also translate alien languages.
Though the show was cancelled in 1979, that was not quite the end of the Tomorrow People. In the 1990s, the British arm of the American cable television station Nickelodeon produced a reboot series of The Tomorrow People. The new series ran from 1993 to 1995. It was not accepted as well as the original as it lacked many elements of the original series such as TIM and the headquarters. However the new series did feature some strong guest actors including Christopher Lee and Jean Marsh.
In 2013 an American remake was made, aimed at a late teen audience and containing more sex and violence than the original. Consisting of 22 45-minute episodes, it re-instates TIM but the tone of the show has changed. The Tomorrow People consider themselves to be at war with the top-secret organisation called Ultra, who wish to control people with powers.
Beginning in 2001, Big Finish Productions made an audio series of The Tomorrow People which featured some of the original cast-members in new adventures. Nicholas Young, Elizabeth Adare, Peter Vaughn-Clarke and Mike Holoway reprised their original roles. In the earlier releases, Philip Gilbert also starred as TIM, but after Philip Gilbert's death in 2004, TIM was replaced by Trevor Littledale.
Angus P Allan drew a comic strip version of The Tomorrow People for Look-In, a television comic magazine.
During the 1970s, five novelisations of the television series were written, though they often differed from the original story. Another four books were written during the 1990s series.