UFO (pronounced YOOfo)

UFO Poster

UFO (pronounced YOOfo) was a TV series that admittedly was NOT from my childhood. It was barely part of my babyhood because it ran from September 1970 – July 1971 for a total of 26 episodes. However, after coming across this gem much later in my life, I have developed a retro-active feeling of nostalgia for it. Primarily because of the costuming and the sheer ridiculous nature of some of it’s situations. Here is the opening sequence.

UFO was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (Of Thunderbirds Fame). This was not their first live action creation, but it was their first live action TV show. The story breakdown is simple: It’s WAY in Earth’s future of the year 1980. There are unnamed aliens, (who fly classic spinning UFOs) constantly coming to Earth to kidnap humans and harvest their organs to save their own lives. A secret Earth organization called SHADO, (which is an acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defense Organization) is tasked with covertly fighting the alien menace.

SHADO has a whole bucket load of advanced technology that they keep from the rest of the world, for the same reason they keep the existence of the aliens a secret: Because the people of Earth would go nuts. Now here is where things get interesting. SHADO’s secret underground base is hidden under a film studio, and the cover for the leader of Shado (Commander Edward Straker) is that he’s a movie producer.  What a coincidence right? Saved the show a lot of money too, since much of the filming of the show was done in the film studio that the fictional SHADO exists in.

SHADO also has a super secret submarine who’s nose is a rocket ship, and here’s another interesting thing. In order for the rocket ship to launch, the whole submarine has to point upward so the rocket ship can BLAST off. There’s a secret moon base as well, which is the first line of defense against the alien attackers. It has a fleet of three fighter planes that are very adept at shooting down the UFOs. Each of these fighter planes (that have wings, but only can fly in space) has one BIG missile that is attached directly to the nose of the plane. Once they shoot their rather large missile, they’re done for the night, and must return to base. I think you see where I’m going here right?

UFO 1Yeah that’s right, the innuendo never stops. And when you see the uniforms worn by the men and women (especially the women) of the headquarters, the submarine and the moon base, you’ll understand why the engineers that design these things are prone to such imagery.

And really, this is the crux of why I like this show. The costume designers of the late 60’s who were trying to make things look futuristic just had this knack for making the most ridiculously awesome outfits, and they really thought women would all be wearing mini skirts, even in military situations. In this case of course I’m talking about Sylvia Anderson, Gerry’s wife, who designed the women’s moon base uniform, which includes, as part of the uniform, a purple wig in the classic “bob” style! Nearly all the men, even those in military uniform, are wearing Nehru Jackets, which I have had an appreciation for since…oh a long time. And don’t worry ladies, there’s plenty of eye candy for you too, the standard submarine uniform is a fishnet shirt for both men and women, and the main male characters go down to their skivvies often enough.


There are some questionable situations that make you laugh and groan at the same time. Just the other night I was watching one of the first episodes and in one scene, Commander Straker just came into the “bridge” of the moon base, and he asks one of the important female crew members, in a very “I’m a man” kind of way, to do get him a coffee. She was supposed to be monitoring for alien spacecraft, the #1 job of SHADO, but since she’s a woman, she has to get him a coffee at the drop of a hat!

UFO 3With the exception of the blatant, but probably not intentional sexism of certain situations, the show actually makes a point to show that women and minorities are given equal rights and opportunities. Which for the period was a big deal, though I think that Star Trek TOS did a much better job of portraying an equal society.

For the time, the production quality of this show was pretty good, I mean they did most of the special effects with models and blue screen and they were working with a limited budget, but I think it was well put together. And even with it’s faults and the ridiculous nature of the story and some of it’s situations, this is one of those that is definitely a must see. I have the series on DVD, which is available from Amazon and many other online or offline retailers for a good price.

As a final note, this show would make for great cosplaying material. (Hint Hint)

Flourish 1




3 Responses to “UFO (pronounced YOOfo)

  • That show rocked!

  • I remember the show from reruns. UFO was shown sporaticly in my area but show was great. Wish hey would run it again.

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