Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Chocky (1984)

Courtesy of FremantleThames

Main image of Chocky (1984)
Thames Television for ITV, 9/1-13/2/1984
6 x 25 min episodes, colour
DirectorsVic Hughes
 Christopher Hodson
ProducerVic Hughes
Executive ProducerPamela Lonsdale
Adapted byAnthony Read
From the novel byJohn Wyndham

Cast: Andrew Ellams (Matthew Gore), James Hazeldine (David Gore), Carol Drinkwater (Mary Gore), Zoe Hart (Polly Gore), Glynis Brooks (voice of Chocky)

Show full cast and credits

A 12-year-old boy gains astonishing powers and knowledge when he is visited by a seemingly benign alien influence.

Show full synopsis

This adaptation of John Wyndham's 1968 novel about a boy visited by a friendly alien presence is an intelligent retelling for younger audiences. Key was adapter Anthony Read's decision to ditch the book's point of view figure of young Matthew Gore's concerned father, and to see events instead from Matthew's vantage point. At a stroke this removed the ambiguity of the novel, which posed the question, 'Is it all in Matthew's imagination?' TV craves visuals and when, in the first episode, the audience see a ball of blue light energy enter a classroom window and fly into Matthew's head, there can be no doubts about the alien's existence.

Despite taking Matthew's viewpoint, numerous scenes centred on conversations between Matthew's mother and father, and giving the production a sophisticated, adult air (perhaps a tad too adult at times). The complex technical and philosophical questions Chocky poses of Matthew, regarding human behaviour and technology, make the presentation distinctly unpatronising.

Read's adaptation inserts many interesting visual scenes to help show not tell - such as an opening sequence set at the London Planetarium and a cricket game that Matthew wins with Chocky's assistance. The fusty action of Wyndham's novel is updated to the digital 1980s, with an Atari games console and infamous puzzle the Rubik's Cube both attracting Chocky's attention. Slightly grating is the glossily smug and anodyne Surrey stockbroker belt setting, although James Hazeldine is never less than convincing as chartered accountant and concerned parent David Gore.

The serial struck a chord with audiences who had fallen for ET - The Extra-Terrestrial back in Christmas 1982. Both tales concerned the innocence of childhood corrupted by adult greed for money and power - with Matthew being abducted by a cabal desiring Chocky's theories of advanced energy supplies.

The John Wyndham Estate felt it was the best screen adaptation they'd seen and approved two original sequels written by Read. Both were solid entertainment, featuring a little less conversation and a little more action than the original but retreading old ground. In Chocky's Children (1985), Matthew meets fellow prodigy Albertine Meyer (Anabel Worrell), who has just won a science scholarship to Cambridge University, but they are spied on by Dr Deacon (Ed Bishop), a powerful American businessman awaiting Chocky's return. In Chocky's Challenge (1986), Chocky prodigies from around the world research anti-gravity power, facing military interference.

Alistair McGown

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Chocky's arrival (3:06)
2. An imaginary friend (1:54)
Complete first episode (25:41)
Village of the Damned (1960)
Tripods (1984-85)
Children's Fantasy and SF