Identified (UFO)

"Identified" is the pilot and first episode of UFO, a 1970 British television science fiction series about an alien invasion of Earth. The screenplay was written by Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson and Tony Barwick; the director was Gerry Anderson. The episode was filmed between 28 April and 12 May 1969, and aired on ATV Midlands on 16 September 1970.[1][2]

UFO episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byGerry Anderson
Written byGerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick
Production code28 April to 12 May, 1969
Original air date16 September 1970

The series was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson with Reg Hill, and produced by the Andersons and Lew Grade's Century 21 Productions for Grade's ITC Entertainment company.[3]


Imagine a dying planet in some distant corner of the universe. Its natural resources exhausted. Its inhabitants sterile. Doomed to extinction. A situation we may one day find ourselves in, gentlemen. So they discover Earth. Abundant, fertile. Able to satisfy their needs. They look upon us not with animosity, but callousness. As we look upon our animals that we depend on for food. Yes, it appears they are driven by circumstance across a billion miles of space, driven on by the greatest force in the universe – survival.

SHADO Commander-in-chief Ed Straker, "Identified"[4]

Two women and man come across a UFO that has landed in a wood. The man, Peter Carlin (Peter Gordeno), starts filming the craft but the threesome are fired upon by the alien occupants. One of the women is killed, Carlin is shot and injured whilst the third, Carlin's sister, is abducted.

The Earth is faced with a powerful threat from an extraterrestrial source. We've moved into an age where science fiction has become fact. We need to defend ourselves.

SHADO Commander-in-chief Ed Straker, "Identified"[5]

Increasing UFO activity, starting in 1970, brings (as shown in the episode "Confetti Check A-O.K.") the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France and an unidentified side of Germany together to combat the perceived threat. Whilst en route to a secret meeting with the British Prime Minister, Col. Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) and General Henderson's (Grant Taylor) Rolls-Royce Phantom VI and two escort police motorbikes are attacked by a UFO. Straker is thrown clear but Henderson is seriously wounded.

After ten years of planning the international community has paid for the construction of a secret organisation – SHADO (the Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) – in Britain to track and deal with any incoming UFO threats. Straker is now in command of this organisation. SHADO is hidden beneath Harlington-Straker, a working film studio used as cover for the underground base located there. Straker's cover involves being a film producer.

Following a fire at Westbrook Electronics, Colonel Freeman (George Sewell) is piloting a transporter aircraft from Los Angeles, which contains top secret Utronic equipment to track UFOs in deep space, plus its creator Col. Virginia Lake. SID, the Space Intruder Detector (an early warning computerised tracking satellite that detects incoming alien UFOs) detects an approaching UFO heading for the North Atlantic. Moonbase launches three interceptors who fire upon the UFO but it manages to escape destruction. SHADO control authorise Skydiver submarine to launch Sky One interceptor aircraft piloted by Capt. Peter Carlin. The UFO continues into Earth's atmosphere and tracks and fires at the transporter, but is shot down by Sky One. The UFO disintegrates in the sea.

An injured alien occupant survives the UFO crash into the ocean and is examined back at SHADO's medical laboratory. The effects of Earth's atmosphere causes the alien to revert to his true age and die. Following an autopsy, SHADO discover that the alien has numerous organ transplants harvested from humans. It transpires that at the alien's heart come from Carlin's sister, who disappeared in the 1970 UFO incident shown at the beginning.[6]



Also Starring


  • Basil Dignam – Cabinet Minister
  • Maxwell Shaw – Dr. Shroeder
  • Michael Mundell – Lt. Ken Matthews
  • Paul Gillard – Kurt Mahler
  • Gary Files – Phil Wade
  • Matthew Robertson – Dr. Harris
  • Annette Kerr – Nurse
  • Edwina Carroll – Leila Carlin
  • Gito Santana – Alien
  • Louisa Rabaiotti – SHADO Operative
  • Penny Spencer – Janis
  • Dennis Plenty – Lt. David Worth
  • Jack Silk – Motorcyclist


An original score was composed for this episode by Barry Gray.

Production notes

Looking at the pilot of UFO, it does have a much slower pace than films that are made today, but equally it still has a lot going for it. It was really quite a complicated show to make. It has a lot of production value.

Gerry Anderson (2002)[7]

During late 1968, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson collaborated with producer Reg Hill and writers Donald James and Tony Barwick to develop the format for the series and the pilot episode Identified. Initially, Earth's defence organisation was to be called UFoeDO – Unidentified Foe Defence Organisation – which was not a secret operation like SHADO was to become.

The commander of UFoeDO was to be a Commander Straeker—later shortened to Straker—with Ed Bishop cast in the role. Second in command was to be Alex Freeman—later named Alec—and played by George Sewell. Both actors had appeared in the Andersons' film Doppelgänger.

Initially the Moonbase Commander, named Franco Desica, was to be played by Italian actor Franco De Rosa. De Rosa was later fired after three days of filming, for causing considerable delays. De Rosa's character was dropped entirely from the show. Some of Desica's dialogue was repurposed for a new Moonbase Commander, Lt. Gay Ellis (played by Gabrielle Drake) (this character was initially called Lt. Paula Harris). The captain of the Skydiver craft, cast as Jon Karlin, was to be Jon Kelley, but before filming commenced the part was restructured and offered to dancer Peter Gordeno, and the character renamed Peter Carlin. Jon Kelley was re-cast as Skydiver navigator John Masters.

Towards the end of April 1969, following five months of pre-production, principal photography for the pilot episode began with Gerry Anderson directing at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood. Second unit filming took place at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire; this included the UFO attack on Straker and Henderson's Rolls-Royce. This unit also filmed the scene with Peter Carlin (Peter Gordeno) and his sister Leila (Edwina Carroll) when they discover a UFO landed in a wood; this was filmed at Black Park at Iver Heath, close to Pinewood Studios.

Additional location shooting included Neptune House at ATV's Elstree Studios. This building was used as the administration block for Harlington-Straker Studios. Various SHADO members were filmed arriving at this building. In the episode, Colonel Lake holds a newspaper with the date of 24 August 1980; this details the exact date that SHADO became operational.

Locations used for the filming included Black Park, Buckinghamshire; Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire; Handley Page Ltd., Radlett Aerodrome, Hertfordshire; and Neptune House, BBC Elstree Studios, Borehamwood.


  1. "UFO Episode Guide – Sub-Smash". Fanderson. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  2. "UFO Characters – Sub-Smash". SHADO Library. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  3. "Underappreciated TV: UFO". Den of Geek. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  4. "Identified Pilot Transcript". SHADO Library. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  5. "Identified Pilot Transcript". SHADO Library. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  6. Bentley, Chris (10 January 2003). The Complete Book of Gerry Anderson's UFO. 978-1903111659. p. 110-111. ISBN 978-1903111659.
  7. Calcutt, Ian (June 2002). "Me and My SHADO". Dreamwatch No. 93. page 28: DreamWatch Publishing. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
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