6 of the Best British Sci-Fi Films and TV Series

by Eve Andrews

With British authors such as Mary Shelly and H.G. Wells giving rise to the popularity of the sci-fi genre, it’s no surprise that, centuries later, British entertainment now has its fair share of sci-fi hits. And since you’re here, we suspect that you’re a fellow fan! So here’s a handful from the best of British sci-fi throughout the years.

1) The War Of The Worlds (2019)

And speaking of H.G. Wells – okay, so this one is actually a mini-series, not a movie, but it’s such a classic, it couldn’t not go on the list. Based on the iconic sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells of the same title, originally published in 1897, this series was a big deal! When a strange looking capsule lands in the middle of Edwardian Surrey, a mysterious lifeform emerges that wastes no time in terrorising the unsuspecting cities and villages of England.

The H.G. Wells novel has seen an absolute plethora of poorly executed adaptations since its initial publication over a century ago. However, hopes were high when it was announced that Craig Viveiros would be directing the first-ever on-screen adaptation of The War Of The Worlds set in its original time period. While updated versions can make for interesting new territory, there’s no denying that a period sci-fi is a different vibe entirely!

2) Split Second (1992)

A sci-fi with a healthy dash of horror, Split Second is a London-based sci-fi that will most definitely appeal to all you Marvel and DC fans out there (yes, I see you). Directed jointly by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp, Split Second portrays what was a futuristic setting of London at the time of its release in 1992. Taking place in 2008, it follows the thrilling case of a London policeman who is on the trail of a strange, alien-like creature that has been responsible for several brutal killings within the city. Set in a London quite literally drowning in the effects of global warming, it remains as topical as it does freaky.

3) The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961)

A classic example of the typical vintage disaster sci-fi, Val Guest’s The Day The Earth Caught Fire, tells the stomach-churning story of an atomic bomb test throwing the Earth off its axis and sending us hurtling towards the Sun. The disaster is shared from the perspective of Peter Stenning, Bill Maguire and Jeanine Craig, a trio who have all equally disenchanted with their jobs in the London media. Although they soon get a violent wake-up call when saddled with the task of trying to get the Earth back into orbit. The scenes of a sun-bound Earth begin with images that are doubtless familiar to anyone who has spent a humid summer in England’s sweltering capital. However, its stomach clenching stuff to watch as Guest’s vision of a London summer slowly grows hauntingly more intense.

4) Quatermass And The Pit (1967)

The Quatermass Xperiment was a sci-fi series that debuted back in 1955. However, I want to draw attention to Roy Ward Baker’s third instalment of the series that hit the silver screen twelve years later in 1967. Adapted from a television series from 1958, Quatermass And The Pit follows the eerie, extraterrestrial antics that ensue when an ancient spaceship is discovered by construction workers buried in the London Underground. It’s thought that the creepy looking aircraft may hold the secrets to the origins of life on earth, though the discovery of which leads to the London population getting much more than they bargained for.

5) Gorgo (1961)

Another 60s gem from the vaults, Eugène Lourié’s Gorgo, is essentially an Anglofied imagining of Japan’s infamous Godzilla! In fact, the French filmmaker was directly inspired by the popularity of Godzilla. However, he decided to place the concept in the British Isles so that his incarnation of the aquatic beast could be seen destroying some popular British landmarks – because why not? So if you’re a Godzilla fan – and who isn’t, right? – this one is most definitely worth a look!

6) The World’s End (2013)

C’mon, you didn’t think we’d do a British sci-fi list and not include this one, did you? Vulgar, alcohol-fuelled and just outright ridiculous, Edgar Wright’s third instalment of the classic Cornetto Trilogy is so typically British, there was no way it wasn’t getting a spot! A legendary but incomplete pub crawl from the pint-fueled nights of teenage years, Gary King, the member of the group who outright refuses to grow up, rallies his boyhood friends back together in an endeavour to complete the nigh impossible ‘Golden Mile’. However, upon reaching their childhood hometown of Newton Haven, the grown-up group of school friends are quick to notice that something about the place just isn’t quite right. Not even a decade old and already a cult classic, this visually stunning, hilariously witty and absurdly British sci-fi flick is one not to be missed!

Do you have a favourite British sci-fi? Is this one we’ve missed that you think deserves a shoutout? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Editor’s Picks:

The 5 Best Philip K Dick Screen Adaptations from Blade Runner to A Scanner Darkly

5 Worst Book to Film Adaptations

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *