The Day of the Triffids (1981)

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The Day of the Triffids novel by John Wyndham first came out in 1951, and eleven years later it was adapted for the big screen. Although the film retained some basic plot elements from Wyndham’s novel, it was not a particularly faithful adaptation and strays significantly and unnecessarily from the book. It was not until 30 years after its publication that the book was more intelligently produced by the BBC into the 1981 TV serial, The Day of the Triffids.


The adaptation by Douglas Livingstone first aired in Britain on September 10th, 1981 and ran as a six half-hour episode mini-series. The show was produced by David Maloney and directed by Ken Hannam, with original music by Christopher Gunning.


Bill Masen records his thoughts while still blind.

The series takes place in late 20th century Britain. A spectacular meteorite shower unexpectedly renders most of humanity blind, leading to the breakdown of society literally overnight. Totally unaware of this, Bill Masen (John Duttine) by chance has retained his sight by virtue of being in hospital with his eyes bandaged.

Bill is a triffid farmer. The triffids are mobile carnivorous plants, each armed with a lethal stinger, which had hitherto been cultivated for their oil. Though Bill was wearing protective clothing, some of the poison had still seeped into his eyes. His bandages are due to be removed to see if the medical treatment has been successful. When nobody shows up, he tentatively removes the bandages himself and gradually discovers the catastrophe around him.


Bill Masen knowledge of the Triffids also includes how best to kill them.

He rescues Josella “Jo” Playton (Emma Relph) from her vicious blind captor. She had slept through the meteorite shower. They eventually come across a small band of similarly lucky survivors who have decided to leave London and establish a community elsewhere to begin rebuilding civilization.

They are opposed by Jack Coker (Maurice Colbourne), who can see. He wants them to help the blind, not abandon them. When the others reject his scheme, he and a few sighted helpers capture some of the group, including Bill and Jo. He assigns each to a group of the blind. Bill is handcuffed to two of his charges. Bill and Jo have been separated by this point.

the day of the triffids

The Triffids may not look much now, but in 1981 they were enough to give British kids nightmares!

Meanwhile, the triffids get loose and run amok amongst the helpless blind human population, slaughtering and feeding on them. Between the Triffids and a lethal disease, most of Bill’s people eventually die; the rest scatter. Bill starts searching for Jo, and teams up with Jack, who admits his plan did not work as he had hoped.

Their search takes them across the country, and further adventure and conflict ensues against both triffid and fellow human alike . . . 


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