Ultraviolet is a stylish, modern thriller set in London in the 20th Century, where a secret war is being waged between humans and vampires. It was released by Channel 4 in the UK in 1998.
This series cleverly used the vampire myth and updated it: the vampires don't turn into anything as convenient or recognisable as monsters, as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the like; they look like us, they act like us, and they don't kill to feed, meaning that there is no clear judgement of good or evil, or at least there doesn't appear to be. This allows the vampires to play psychological games, asking questions there are no clean, convenient answers for:
If Jack can't tell the difference, and you can't tell the difference, are we really that different?
But they are still evil, aren't they? They still drink blood, but does this really justify extermination without fair trial? It's up to the viewer to decide.
Although not a mainstream success, Ultraviolet was a very good series and gained a well-deserved cult status. It never mentioned the word 'vampire', using instead 'Code V'1 to refer to anything pertaining to them, and 'leech' for the vampires themselves. This code helped the show to avoid being pigeon-holed too quickly, getting it a 9pm time slot. It was also quite clever in the way that it brought the vampire myth into the modern day - out of the Gothic cul-de-sac it had got stuck in.
After being voted among the top ten cult shows in a recent poll, it was released on video and then DVD by Kult TV. There is now talk of an American version, but there are fears that the clever moral questions and head games that distinguished the original will be squeezed out by the fight scenes.
The main characters, and the actors who portray them, are:
Mike Colefield (Jack Davenport) - A graduate police officer of ten years' standing, he is best man at the wedding of his best friends Jack and Kirsty. However, when the groom disappears and two officers suddenly turn up from CIB2, Mike gets drawn into a world he never knew existed and can barely cope with.
Jack Berrisford (Stephen Moyer) - A police officer of ten years, soon to be married, and friend of Mike's. There are murky and hidden things in his past...
Kirsty (Colette Brown) - A primary school teacher who has known Mike and Jack since university, she is also Jack's fiancée. When Jack disappears she tries to find out what happened, thinking it would make things better, but it ends up making things a lot worse.
Frances (Fiona Dolman) - An old friend of Mike's and also an ex-girlfriend, she works in a moderately security-sensitive area. When Mike asks for help, she uses her contacts to find out what she can. But she ends up watching as Mike gets sucked into a world he seems ill equipped for, but of which she knows nothing.
Angie March (Susannah Harker) - A medical research doctor up until six years ago, when her husband Robert and one of her twin daughters died. No-one really knows what she does now, but she turns up with Vaughan Rice claiming to be from CIB.
Vaughan Rice (Idris Elba) - An ex-serviceman, retired after the Gulf War due to post-traumatic stress after his squad was wiped out in a friendly fire incident. He turns up with Angie March at Jack's abortive wedding claiming to be from CIB.
Pearse Harman (Philip Quast) - A priest, but also the head of a government-funded secret organisation dedicated to tracking down and neutralising their old enemy - the 'leeches'. No specific name for this organisation exists, and they claim to be anything from anti-terrorist officers to CIB.
Very little is known about this organisation:
They are an organised group dedicated to fighting all that is Code V.
They're somehow associated with the Catholic Church.
They claim to be 'The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith', previously known as 'The Inquisition'.
Members of the Organisation use the following equipment in their fight against Code V and the 'leeches':
Video gun sight - Shows the scene ahead of the gun. 'Leeches' don't show up on video, so it's used to identify targets.
Retractable stake - A retractable carbon spike, for personal defence and close-quarters use.
Carbon dum-dum bullets - Explode on impact inside the body, causing neutralisation of 'leeches' if shot in the heart. Illegal in England.
Allicin gas grenade - A garlic extract that causes a violent allergic reaction in 'leeches'.
Wood shrapnel grenade - Designed to cause widespread 'staking' hits.
Vampires - The Ultraviolet Definition
Code V Material
Code V material and 'leeches' have the following properties:
Both burn in daylight
Neither show up on artificial equipment, such as video and mirrors.
'Leeches' have psychological aversion to religious imagery, but only if both sides have 'belief' in the power of the imagery
Code V material and 'leeches' explode from the inside upon neutralisation
'Leeches' can only be neutralised by a 'stake'3 to the heart
'Leeches' can be resurrected: method unknown
'Leeches' appear to be exactly the same as other humans, except for in these scenarios:
- They don't appear on video
- They aren't heard on electronic audio or telephones
- They don't show up on cameras or film
- They don't leave fingerprints
The only machines that can see or hear a leech are us.
Vaughan Rice, Episode Two: 'In Nomine Patris'
'Leech' Effects on Humans
The bites heal over in minutes, after which they are only visible under ultraviolet light.
They don't take too much blood from their victims, never killing them in the process.
The victims can't remember anything after the event.
It leaves the victims highly susceptible to suggestion.
Episode One - 'Habeas Corpus'
Mike is dragged away from Jack's stag night by a terrified but unreliable informant who's been bothering them. Mike just wants to stop him turning up at the reception, but then he finds the informant was actually telling the truth. Jack disappears, and Mike finds himself being dragged into a dark world of which we know nothing.
Episode Two - 'In Nomine Patris'
There is an incident of road rage that turns into a Code V incident - a woman is left crippled and a trail leads to a wealthy businessman. There is only one thing to do: follow the money.
Episode Three - 'Sub Judice'
A female barrister is attacked in an underground car park and she passes out. The only trouble is, when she comes around her attackers are dead, murdered by hands unknown. Is it to do with the complex fraud case she is working on, or is it something deeper they can't yet see?
Episode Four - 'Mea Culpa'
A young boy who wanted just two weeks ago to become a priest suddenly stops attending mass, then stabs one of the priests. This turns out to be more than just teenage mood swings when some of his classmates develop a peculiar form of photophobia - the fear of light - but only a fear of sunlight in their case.
Episode Five - 'Terra Incognita'
Two people arrive from Brazil, one with blood problems seeking the help of Dr March. The only trouble is it's Dr Robert March (Angie's Husband) they want to see, not Angie, and there are some suspicious packages travelling as medical supplies.
Episode Six - 'Persona Non Grata'
The 'leeches' are holding Kirsty and blackmailing Mike. The only thing holding Kirsty together is what she believes is true, but Mike isn't sure if she is still human. They need Dr Robert March, but is it to broker peace, or total war?