ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

UFO - the tv series

Updated on September 19, 2014

Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization

U.F.O. was a British TV series, produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It was filmed in 1969-70 and primarily aired in the UK in 1970-71. Twenty-six episodes were produced. The show documented the adventures of SHADO, the organization founded to defend the Earth against an ongoing alien invasion.

Interestingly, SHADO was a joint US-UK defense organization, headed up by a US officer but based in England. And the secret military base was located underground beneath a film studio, with the head of UFO defense keeping up the masquerade of being a film producer and the head of the studio.

The show can sometimes be found on specialty science fiction cable channels and the entire run is available on DVD.

The UFO Megaset

The Complete UFO Megaset
The Complete UFO Megaset
This is how I have the UFO series and it's been a delight for repeated viewings! Focus on favorite storylines, watch whichever broadcast order is your favorite or just take a look at the best episodes.
Moonbase staff were all women.
Moonbase staff were all women. | Source

When I grow up I'm going to be a tracker on Moonbase.....

I can't recall actually saying that as a little girl, but that's sort of a surprise in itself. The only science fiction show I can remember more clearly than this one from my childhood is Star Trek. I would have been just about 5 years old when UFO ran for the first time in the US, and I don't really think that's when I came across it.

I do have vivid flashes of recollections from junior high though. I'm guessing it got rerun somewhere in there. After all, this was pre-home VCR days. Early gull-wing cars, women with purple wigs and silver mesh bodysuits, aliens sealed in suits full of green liquid to breathe, mind control, submarines that launched space fighters and a cool musical theme. Really, I think I was just mesmerized by the women in the purple wigs like everyone else. But the idea of aliens coming to Earth to harvest organs was just the right combo of fascinating and creepy for my young mind. And, I'll confess, I had one of those childhood crushes on the character of Paul Foster. Don't know why, but there's a little personal share for ya....

I had cable tv in my little studio apartment in graduate school, and I watched the whole thing run again on the SciFi cable channel. Even though my taste in visual effects had matured considerably, I still really enjoyed it. I got the psychological angles a lot more with those viewings.

The Complete Book of Gerry Anderson's UFO
The Complete Book of Gerry Anderson's UFO
This is the only guide written specifically about this tv series.
Aliens who came to Earth were sealed inside liquid environments for the long journey.
Aliens who came to Earth were sealed inside liquid environments for the long journey. | Source

SHADO Personel

The show was set in the 1980s, and is about S.H.A.D.O (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization), which protects Earth against alien invasion. The Earth defenses were threefold. There was the Moonbase with a detection satellite, a mobile air/sea unit called Skydiver (a sub that a launched an air fighter) and the main control base, SHADO HQ, located 80 ft underground below a film studio in England.

Here's a who's who, organized by where each character was primarily based.


Cmdr. Ed Straker - head of SHADO

Col. Alex Freeman - Chief of Staff

Col. Paul Foster - Command Operative/Pilot

Col. Virginia Lake - computer expert

Dr. Doug Jackson - psychiatrist & interrogator

Lt. Keith Ford - Radio communications operator

Lt. Ayshea Johnson - Radio communications operator


Capt. Peter Carlin - captain and Sky One pilot

Capt. Lew Waterman - Skydiver captain and pilot

Lt. Mark Bradley - Interceptor pilot

Lt. John Masters - Skydiver operative


Lt. Gay Ellis - command of Moonbase

Nina Barry - space tracker and command

Joan Harrington - space tracker

SHADO had a policy of having personnel cross-trained and you saw characters work all of the different posts across the course of the series. This also covered for the fact that in real-life, the episodes were shot in a very different order from the broadcast order. Some actors appeared in just a few episodes, but spread out in broadcast order, their characters appeared across the entire two year show span.

Neil Norman - Greatest Science Fiction Hits, Vol. 3
Neil Norman - Greatest Science Fiction Hits, Vol. 3
This collection of themes from science fiction shows and movies includes a delicious and faithful rendition of the UFO theme song.

The UFO Series

If you haven't yet seen the show, you might be surprised to learn the word "UFO" in the TV series is pronounced "you-foe." It also features a lot of Nehru jackets, Caesar haircuts and gull-wing cars. Produced and shown in 1970, the show was set in what was then the near future of 1980. Check out all the fantastic futuristic-ness for yourself!


The first line of defense against the aliens is the Moonbase and the orbiting satellite SID (Space Intruder Detector), designed by Colonel Virginia Lake. There are a handful of Interceptor fighters pilots (all men) based on the Moon, along with the station commander and space trackers (all women), plus a few security personnel and medics. In what was a very forward move for the time, the commanding officer at the Moonbase was female.

The pilots on Moonbase got to wear jumpsuits all the time, silver and shiny when doing station duty or off-duty, and bright blue quilty ones when they were doing Interceptor duty. They got to their ships by jumping down these tubes/chutes, an element carried over from Thunderbirds, another Anderson production. There were only ever three Moonbase Interceptors. They weren't always that accurate, so UFOs pretty regularly got past the space defense. All telemetry and weapons calculations were done at Moonbase and radioed to the Interceptors.

The women of Moonbase had silver sparkle catsuits with silver leather body harnesses, hot pink sparkle false eyelashes and bright purple wigs. These were their regulation uniforms and if they went down to Earth to SHADO Control, they'd wear their own hair and uniforms like those normally worn by Earth-based technicians.

The Interceptors launched from the moonbase whenever SID detected incoming UFOs. Each ship has a single large rocket-type missile mounted right on the nose of the ship, so it was either you stopped the incoming alien ship or you didn't. Some people have argued the design wasn't very good, others have said if the Interceptors had been great, no one on Earth would have ever had to do anything.

Once a UFO penetrated the Earth's atmosphere, the Interceptors wouldn't work anymore and tracking and interception fell to Skydiver (sub), Sky One (water-launched jet) and the Mobiles (ground teams).

Skydiver from U.F.O., screen capture by Relache
Skydiver from U.F.O., screen capture by Relache

Aboard Skydiver

The SHADO HQ was in the UK, hidden underground 80 feet beneath a film studio and the Moonbase and attendant satellite was the Earth's outer defense. Roaming the rest of the Earth's surface was Skydiver One, a submarine that also could launch a sea-to-air attack fighter (SkyOne). They were responsible for all ocean patrols and a good number of air interception attempts.

The uniforms of Skydiver were cream and brown, with skin tight trousers and tops made of mesh. The submarine crew was co-ed. The men's shirts had mesh torsos that were open to their bare chests. The women's tops had flesh-colored underpinnings that taunted the viewer with the "is she, or isn't she?" question.

Lt. Gay Ellis, Commander of Moonbase - The icon of futuristic space command

The character of Lt. Gay Ellis, as played by actress Gabrielle Drake, has been almost a fetish icon when it comes to the image of the sexy space commander. Clad in a skintight silver mesh bodysuit, silver body harness, knee-high boots and purple bobbed wig. Fandom really couldn't ask for more than that.

Famously, Lt. Ellis and another Moonbase tracker change in a co-ed locker room on the Moonbase. You get a bikini-clad woman talking with an Interceptor pilot through a piece of one-way glass. He sees a mirror and she sees the man to whom she is talking. You also get to see the changeover from catsuit to mini-skirt option on the Moonbase uniform.

For those of you into extreme trivia, the bikini-clad Moonbase operative "Joanna" is played by the future Mrs. Michael Caine.

See The Interceptors and Sky One In Action

SHADO Fans, share your favorites! - epidodes, actors, styles... what did you like best about UFO?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Babs you may be thinking of Captain Scarlet. The 'Angels' were in that.

    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @anonymous: I think you are referring to the ladies who were Space Trackers on Moonbase. They all had the rank of Lieutenant and their character names were Gay Ellis, Nina Barry and Joan Harrington.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What were the names of the Angels? Melody? Harmony? & & ??

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 

      7 years ago

      They brought to us a great show :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have never seen it..sounds interesting though

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I do remember these series Thanks

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Ah I used to love UFO. That and the Tomorrow People. Surely all the girls should have shiny purple hair by now.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for introducing me to the series. Looks captivating!

    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Thamisgith: That's a great, funny anecdote! Maybe you should watch the series again now on DVD so you can enjoy it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I remember this one. However, I didn't realise that the women on the moon base had purple hair. I grew up in a small town in the Highlands of Scotland - and we didn't get colour TV until the late seventies. Anyway, now I know!

    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Toni-Roman: I didn't know there were novelizations, I'm completely unfamiliar with those.

    • nhotdeals profile image


      7 years ago

      I remember the series well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Can't say I've ever seen this - thanks kindly for sharing!

    • Toni-Roman profile image


      7 years ago

      Could you please add information or bibliography of all novelizations of this series? I know they exist because I own number #2 in the series of paperbacks. This leads me to imagine that a number #3 exists and certainly number #1.

      If you do this, then also consider adding info on soundtrack album or score on CD or other media. Thanks!

    • stevel58 profile image


      8 years ago

      Always fancied a girl in a purple wig.

      Not been able to find any in recent times.

      Grew up with Gerry Anderson can still watch all his stuff even today,

    • Lemming13 profile image


      8 years ago

      I had a crush on Commander Straker, but for me the iconic UFOs spinning through space with that eerie sound is the thing that sticks in my mind after all these years. I used to watch it as a kid and it just raised the hairs on my neck when I heard that sound. Great series, great lens.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)