They Came From Somewhere Else (Channel 4, 1984)
I’m always on the lookout for unusual shows to review here, and this is one that I’ve been interested in seeing. I don’t remember They Came From Somewhere Else from first time round, but the descriptions I’ve read made it seem rather bizarre (how could I not be intrigued by show featuring a cast member credited as The “They’re Coming” Man?), so I wondered if it was on YouTube, and the good news is that all six episodes are, so here’s the review.
They Came From Somewhere Else (a TVS Production for Channel 4) was produced during a time in the 80s when Channel 4 were still trying to define their comedy image and find some shows with a distinctive style, and this one was at least something of an attempt to be something a little different. It was shown on Saturday nights and viewers might not have realised what they were in for.
The show was created by and starred a comedy quartet known as Cliffhanger (Robin Driscoll, Tony Haase, Pete McCarthy and Rebecca Stevens), one of whom I recognised from their appearances in BBC2’s classic comedy The Day Today a decade later (“as the Minister For Ships sprawls on a pin, it’s back to you in the studio!”). They Came From Somewhere Else started out as a stage show before transferring to TV a couple of years later in 1984.
The show is rather difficult to describe, it’s something of a science-fiction parody sitcom, and having recently reviewed the similar ITV sitcom Kinvig, I wondered how this one would compare. Middleford is a rather quiet place until one day… something rather odd happens. The character only known as “The Stranger” arrives, and then liver starts to fall from the sky, butchers explode, people are sucked down drains by giant prawns, toasters go on the blink, and zombies fill supermarkets.
There is also a briefcase that plays a major part in the series, but what does it contain? The show also concluded with an exciting cliffhanger (which I suppose is rather appropriate really), although it never returned for a second series, so viewers are still wondering what happened next 35 years on, I don’t know if there were any more episodes planned to be made. A rather odd show, I suppose I can see how it acquired its cult status.
They Came From Somewhere Else can be classed as one of those “it’s more peculiar than funny” shows, and it isn’t likely to receive a DVD release soon, not because of lack of demand as such but because it is a TVS Production (and I’m sure that people are aware of the disarray that their archive is in by now). The same team went on to write and appear in the 1989 BBC2 sitcom Mornin’ Sarge, which again was an unusual one-series wonder.