Slim John

Slim John was a 1969 BBC English Language Instruction serial made for overseas broadcast. The program was a series of scifi adventure of twenty-six episodes of fourteen minutes in black and white. It involved android robots from outer space planning to take over the Earth, starting with London. They worked following the directions of an authority called Control. Robot Five, nicknamed Slim John (Simon Williams), is himself a rebel robot who befriended a human couple, Stevie and Richard.

This series was an educational tool used for English language instruction. It was supported by books and records as an English teaching method. The series was broadcast for years all over the world, at least in Turkey, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Brazil and Yugoslavia. Hungary, Poland and Romania were the only Eastern Bloc countries to show this series, with enormous response, in the 1970s. Given its purpose, the series is of course much better known out of the United Kingdom. The involvement of screenwriters having a Doctor Who background, John Wiles and Brian Hayles, provided anyway a solid and entertaining story line.

Slim John, as a robot, had extraordinary strength, in a The Six Million Dollar Man way. The intrigue always revolved around the other robots trying to eliminate him and also on the fact that Slim John and the other robots have a limited amount of power available and regularly need to recharge themselves.

A very special concept of the serial were short grammar lessons, transmitted in regular intervals to all the robots via their hand held communicator devices (being some 30+ years of personal digital assistant anticipation). These short lessons were - as one would expect - presented not only to the robots (including Slim John, of course), but in full screen also to the TV viewers. The authors have in that way achieved a more or less logical, seamless and unobtrusive integration of grammar repetition sequences into the main SF (i.e. real world) action.

Read more about Slim John:  Availability, Cast, List of Episodes

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