On This Day: Signal-Jamming Aliens

Your TV signal wobbles. An alien voice (albeit one with a Southern English accent...) seizes control of your set. And, instead of newsreader Andrew Gardner reporting on the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, you hear a voice claiming to be ‘Vrillon’, of Ashtar Galactic Command, with a message for humanity.


Such was the experience for viewers attempting to watch the ITV Evening News on Southern TV on 26th November, 1977 - an incident which became infamous in the ‘signal-jamming’ pantheon of the twentieth-century. Nobody has ever claimed responsibility.


In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly compare ‘Vrillon’ to its US counterpart, the ‘Max Headroom’ incident; unpick the idea that the broadcast was part of the Raelian movement; and explain how Twitter ruined signal-jamming pranks forever...  


Further Reading:

• ‘Alien Vrillon Interruption 1977’ (RECREATION by RukiTheDreamer, YouTube 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhNriwaMTQE

• ‘Vrillon: the alien voice hoax that became a legend’ (The Independent, 2017): https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/vrillon-hacking-alien-voice-seventies-extra-terrestrial-hoax-unexplained-mysteries-a8069926.html

• ‘Five Of The Eeriest Interruptions In Broadcast History’ (Neatorama, 2015): https://www.neatorama.com/2015/11/30/Five-Of-The-Eeriest-Interruptions-In-Broadcast-History/


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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021. 


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