“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”
The words of the late, great Stephen Hawking remind us that we need to pay attention to the possibilities of our universe. Science fiction writers can help us with that, because of their gift for storytelling.
And once their tales are adapted for television, the results are quite simply out of this world. Whether you’re into time travel or scary monsters, we’ve got recommendations for some great sci-fi on Freeview in the (very near) future.
Friday 16 March at 9pm
This is the road trip that sci-fi fans dream of. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two British geeks making their way to the San Diego Comic-Con. Their journey is interrupted when they have a close encounter with an alien called Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). With a talent for wise cracks and a taste for alcohol and cigarettes, Paul isn’t your average extra-terrestrial being. Which is why he’s going to turn his new-found friends’ world upside down forever!
Saturday 17 March at 5:50pm
Sam Worthington stars as Jake Sully, a paraplegic soldier sent on a mission to find a solution to the Earth’s depleting resources. He encounters an alien tribe living on land that could solve his planet’s problems. But when he falls in love with the beautiful Neytiri, Jake faces a conflict of loyalties. Avatar raked in nearly $3 billion at the box office thanks to its compelling storyline, breath-taking scenery and pioneering technology.
Saturday 17 March at 6:50pm
This Oscar-winning space thriller stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded above the earth. The tension mounts as their oxygen – and their chances of survival – are fast running out.
Saturday 17th March
ITV2 at 8:30pm
Earth is under attack from gigantic alien monsters. The defence of the planet is in the hands of two human pilots controlling equally massive robots. It’s a gargantuan battle that could either end the monsters’ reign of terror or obliterate the human race. And the director is the man who this month picked up the Oscar for Best Picture – Guillermo del Toro.
Saturday 17 March at 9pm
This is the movie version of the classic Marvel comic strip. Four young misfits are given the chance to experience teleportation. But when the test goes wrong the four friends are sent to Planet Zero, a desolate place that gifts them with strange powers.
Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD
Saturday 17 March
Film4 at 12:50am
When it first appeared in 1977, the sci-fi comic 2000AD had a seismic impact on both younger readers and older audiences. With strips such as Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, the comic offered thrills as well as boundary-pushing storylines. This documentary charts the comic’s early days and shows what happened after many of its leading lights left for America in the 1990s.
Monday 19 March
Channel 4 at 10pm
In the last in the series of dramas inspired by Philip K. Dick, we find ourselves in a futuristic North American one-party state. After a presidential candidate makes a shocking speech encouraging violence, a man is found hanged from a billboard. It’s apparent that he’s been murdered, but the body is inexplicably ignored by passers-by. When factory worker Philbert Noyce dares to question the situation, he instantly puts himself in danger.
Catch up on all the previous episodes on All 4.
The X Files
Monday 19 March
Channel 5 at 11pm
This revival of a classic sci-fi show could easily have flopped. But as well as entertaining us with some seriously scary storylines, the new episodes give viewers a deeper insight into how the years have changed our favourite FBI agents. In this episode, a brutal animal attack on a small boy leads Mulder and Scully to suspect darker forces are at play. Creepy crime-fighting at its best!
You can catch up with all the episodes on My5.
Monday-Friday at 7pm
Pick at 7pm
Originally a multi-million grossing movie from 1994, Stargate is now one of the most popular sci-fi TV series. The stargate is a wormhole that enables nearly instantaneous transportation to different worlds. In series eight, Jack O’Neill has been promoted to Brigadier General, and Stargate Command has to develop new weapons to defend the planet from the “Replicators” who want to take over the galaxy.
Also on Pick every weeknight at 8pm, Babylon Five imagines life on a space station in the 23rd century. This week, Sheridan battles to liberate a planet threatened by Earth, while Londo makes a surprising proposal to G’Kar.
Thursday 22 March
Horror Channel at 6pm
The second series of the original sci-fi show kicks off with the usually logical Mr Spock behaving out of character. He eventually asks to return to his home planet, but ends up fighting Captain Kirk in a duel to the death. And if that whets your appetite for more sci-fi action, Star Trek: The Next Generation continues at 7pm on weeknights also on Horror Channel.
Here’s another chance to see the tenth series of this cosmic comedy. In episode one, Rimmer inadvertently summons a derelict ship carrying a hologram of his brother Howard. But before rescuing him, Rimmer tries to pass an exam to become an officer, and match his high-achieving brother.
The Sarah Jane Adventures
Widely regarded by Dr Who Fans as the most popular of the Doctor’s companions, Sarah Jane got her own spin-off series in 2007. In each episode, Sarah Jane and her (genetically engineered) son Luke do battle to defend planet Earth against extra-terrestrial intruders. The full set of five series is available to enjoy on BBC iPlayer, including appearances by another of the Doctor’s chums – the know-it-all tin dog that is K-9.
If you’d like to boldly go beyond the world of terrestrial TV, take a look at some of the best sci-fi offerings on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Directed by Alex Garland (director of the critically acclaimed Ex Machina), this mind-bending movie stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist soldier. Lena’s husband Kane returns from a secret mission inside the “Shimmer”, a mysterious dome-shaped membrane that’s expanding across southern Florida. But Kane is a changed man, experiencing memory loss and physical illness. There’s only one thing for it: Lena has to go inside the Shimmer to figure out what’s going on. Deemed “too brainy for the box office”, this movie offers a different level of sophistication to sci-fi fans hungry for something that’s both entertaining and intellectually challenging.
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, this show considers what would happen if gods were to walk the earth. Starring Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane, it’s both smart and mind-blowing. In the opening episode, a recently released ex-con named Shadow meets a mysterious man called Wednesday who seems to know a lot about Shadow’s life and past.
Created by Charlie Brooker, this sci-fi anthology series explores the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. With shades of The Twilight Zone, each standalone episode is a haunting tale with troubled characters and dark storylines.