The BBC Adaptation (2009)
|Written by Patrick Harbinson||Directed by Nick Copus|
|Originally broadcast 28 December and 29 December 2009|
|Bill Masen||Dougray Scott||Jo Playton||Joely Richardson|
|Torrence||Eddie Izzard||Bill's father||Brian Cox|
|Miss Durrant||Vanessa Redgrave||Coker||Jason Priestley|
|Walter Strange||Ewen Bremner||Osman||Shane Taylor|
The latest TV adaptation of the novel came in 2009, 28 years after the BBC made the excellent first adaptation. It benefits from the advances in computer graphics with improved special effects but loses out by straying further from the book. While some changes to a novel are necessary, many of those in this adaptation seem to be made for change's sake, such as the replacement of the comet by the sun.
Changes from the previous BBC adaptation and/or book
- Bill Masen is made more heroic and less the original everyman.
- Bill and Jo are far more confident and unafraid in the beginning.
- The cause of the blindness is the sun rather than a comet.
- The triffids have tendrils which can grab (not part of the original plants) and hunt people rather than lie in wait.
- The plague which devastates London does not occur.
- The story does not begin with Bill waking up in a silent hospital (a dramatic and iconic opening) but rather with an explanation of what triffids are and their uses.
- Torrence is introduced long before Bill meets him and becomes more complex.
- Coker becomes an American major and changes from an intellectual to an action hero.
- Michael Beadley becomes Michelle Beadley and nothing like the character in the book.
- Bill's father, only briefly mentioned in the book, becomes a major character.
- Miss Durrant, who was a good-hearted but misguided woman, becomes a crazy nun who sacrifices people to triffids.
- The Shirning occupants (Dennis and Mary Brent, and Joyce Taylor) and the little community that they create with Bill, Jo and Susan, are replaced with Bill's father and a plan to destroy the triffids.
- There is some nonsense about putting triffid venom through a mask to make the plants ignore you.
- In the book, the triffids are almost a side issue and the central story is about survival in an apocalyptic world and what sort of society those left should turn to. This version is more about battles with triffids and Torrence's followers.
One of the areas where this version loses out to the 1981 adaptation is the tendency to explain everything beforehand. In the book (and the 1981 series), we begin with Bill waking up in an eerily quiet hospital. Like him, we don't understand what is happening and the triffids, initially, are a side issue. We, like him, are confused and gradually find out what is happening through the story. He slowly finds out about the comet and the blindness, he discovers Jo and the University group, and then realises the triffids have become a menace. In this version, the triffids are introduced beforehand as though the viewer was a child who had to have everything explained. Torrence is also brought in early presumably because it was thought necessary to have a 'big villain'. Characters in general become more heroic and Hollywood-like rather than the frightened ordinary and believable people of before.
The original story is more about surviving the breakdown of civilisation and what sort of society is the best choice in the new world. This version is more of an 'action movie' with the heroes fighting aliens (triffids) and evil humans. The subtlety and intelligence is lost.
The story begins with Bill Masen reminiscing about triffids, how they killed his mother and how they were used to produce an oil substitute. He explains how they were kept secret by the production companies and we seem him temporarily blinded by a triffid sting.
We then see Jo Playton who is a radio presenter and preparing for the expected solar storm. Meanwhile, on a plane approaching London, Torrence is asleep and ignoring the sky effects. Suddenly the sky becomes incredibly bright, blinding people around the world.
Bill wakes up in hospital, his eyes bandaged and no nurses around. He hears screaming and encounters people milling around before taking off the bandages and finding he can see. On the plane, Torrence wakes to find people panicking and the aircraft preparing for a crash landing. He uses life jackets to form a protective padding around himself and survives the crash.
Bill, Jo and Torrence each venture out onto the streets which are full of confused, terrified people. Fleeing a mob, Jo is held by a blinded policeman until Bill rescues her. Torrence, meanwhile acquires goods and weapons while, in the triffid farms, an activist releases the plants.
A society breaks down around them, Bill and Jo head to the triffid farms to find that they have all escaped, killing people in the process. When they head on to find Jo's father, they find he has already been killed by one. They broadcast warnings on the radio and grow closer, talking to each other about their lives. Torrence though is enjoying the power of sight, occupying 10 Downing Street
Bill and Jo spot flares during the night and drive to their location. They find an American, Coker, in a stand-off with the flares' originators, trying to get them to accept a group of blind people. Coker and his party are rejected and Bill and Jo are taken in. The people, under the control of Michelle Beadley and some soldiers, are tying to organise a recovery, concentrating on just sighted people.
Torrence meanwhile joins up with Coker and they attack the group, forcing them to look after blind people. But on a trip to a supermarket, they are attacked by triffids. Torrence decides to take control from Coker, taking he and Bill away while telling Jo that Bill was killed. When their vehicle is attacked by triffids, Bill and Coker escape.
Bill and Coker are injured in the escape and make their way to an abbey where they are treated. The people of the abbey, a mixture of blind and sighted, and run by a nun, Miss Durrant, who sacrifices the old and weak to placate the triffids. When Bill reveals the truth, she decides to leave and Coker takes over the abbey. Bill then decides to move on to try and find his father.
Still living with Torrence's group, Jo suspects that Bill is still alive. She broadcasts a warning to the country about the dangers of Torrence and then flees.
Bill comes across two young girls in the process, Susan and Imogen, and they move on to Shirning where they meet up with Bill's father. They also find Jo there. Bill's father has plans to destroy the triffids by creating a sterile version and Bill is forced to drive out to find a male triffid.
The triffids begin sporing. Later, a plane flies over Shirning, dropping notes which inform them that a community is being set up on the Isle of Wight and Bill's father is killed by a triffid.
Later, Torrence arrives at Shirning with armed men, having been forced out of London by the triffids. He is planning on making his way to join the group on the Isle of Wight. Bill, Jo and the girls escape Torrence by drawing the triffids towards the house by sound recordings. They then drop triffid venom into their eyes to enable them to get past the triffids while Torrence is killed by the plants. They are last seen rowing towards the Isle of Wight.