BUGS

(United Kingdom | BBC | 1995 – 1999)

BUGS
Series Background

First transmitted on BBC1 in 1995, BUGS was the first mainstream telefantasy drama to have been broadcast in an adult slot for a number of years.

The series revolved around the exploits of Ros Henderson (Jaye Griffiths), Ed (Craig McLachlan) and Nick Beckett (Jessie Birdsall), who investigated various high-tech crimes whilst working for Ros's company, Gizmo's.

All three of the three actors were departees from high profile soap operas or dramas: Jaye Griffiths had recently left The Bill, where she had played CID's DI Sally Johnson; Craig McLachlan had starred in both Neighbours and Home & Away (as well as troubling the music charts earlier in the decade); and Jesse Birdsall had played Marcus Tandy in the appalling BBC1 soap Eldorado between 1992 and 1993.

After some heavy promotion, the first episode would be watched by an astonishing 12.5m viewers. Something which sufficiently impressed the BBC for them to commit to a further two seasons of ten episodes each.

Season 2, however, saw a noticeable dip in ratings, when the winning formula was tinkered with by bringing back Jean Daniel from the previous season's Pulse as a recurring villain and upping the sci-fi content of the programme — something which obviously wasn't to the taste of the viewing audience. The programme also encountered what would be the first of its annual scheduling problems, as the season finale, A Cage for Satan, was pulled at short notice due to the IRA blowing up Manchester city centre...

Season 3 saw further changes to the format, with our three heroes joining up with the secret Bureau 2, a government organisation that dealt with the same sort of crimes as before, but which enabled the producers to introduce two new characters. Ex-Howard's Way actress Jan Harvey played the mysterious Jan, who was in charge of the Bureau, and Paula Hunt was introduced as Alex Jordan a young recruit who had previously been confined to the paperwork.

Rather surprisingly, the season was to end on a cliffhanger, with Ros missing and her apartment smashed up. Even more surprising was the news that BUGS was to be recommisioned for a fourth season — again of ten episodes. Season 3's scheduling calamity, meanwhile, had occurred at the start of September when Buried Treasure was delayed by a week in order to make way for the extensive coverage of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The major change in Season 4 would be the departure of Craig McLachlan, although the part was to be re-cast, with Steven Houghton, fresh out of the ITV firefighting drama London's Burning, stepping into the breach to play a now anglicised Ed.

Yet again, external events were to conspire against the series. Firstly, the series was moved to an earlier timeslot, thus losing the advantage of a lead-in from the National Lottery draw. More annoying for telefantasy starved viewers in the UK was the fact that ITV decided to schedule The Vanishing Man, their updating of The Invisible Man starring Neil Morrissey, in opposition to the series for three of the episodes. The next blow for the show was when Pandora's Box was hurriedly removed from the schedules due to the Real IRA bombing in Omagh.

The final indignity for fans was when the season was cut short after the broadcast of the seventh episode, Jewel Control. It was to be a further twelve months before the final three were transmitted, but even the inclusion of yet another cliffhanger failed to save the series on this occasion. Series writer Colin Brake has since confirmed online that the mysterious driver who kidnaps Ros and Beckett would have been revealed in Season 5 to be Jean Daniel...

Behind the scenes, the show had a notable pedigree, with ex-Avengers writer Brian Clemens acting as adviser to the series in the early days, as well as providing story ideas, while the main writer across the four seasons would be Stephen Gallagher, best known at the time for his science fiction novels such as Chimera and Oktober. Writers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, who contributed Bugged Wheat to Season 2 and Hollow Man to Season 3, would go on to develop and produce Smallville in the United States

But despite it's many shortcomings, the series was never as bad as its more vociferous critics liked to claim, and, for a few short years at least, showed that British TV could still make an action show when it put its mind to it. Parking your brain in neutral for the duration was a must, however!

All four seasons of BUGS have been released on DVD, and the series has received a number of repeats in the UK on satellite and cable. On the BBC, however, nothing has been seen of the show since the broadcast of The Enemy Within in August 1999.
DVD Releases

All four seasons of BUGS have been released on DVD in the UK, both individually and as a complete series box set containing all forty episodes. None of the releases are subtitled.
BUGS: Out of the Hive

by
Paul Leonard
Cover image: BUGS: Out of the Hive, Virgin Publishing (1996)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Virgin Publishing
Publication Date April 1996
Original Price 4.99
ISBN 0735300159

Out of the Hive contains novelisations of the first two episodes from Season 1.

Back Cover Blurb
SACROS is a box of circuits that can control or cripple satellite communications. It's secure in a government base known as the Hive. But someone will stop at nothing to obtain it. And Nick Beckett is sure there's a traitor in the Hive.

Beckett is framed. He almost loses his life. He meets Ros, who runs a high-tech gadgets company called Gizmos, and her friend Ed, who positively enjoys taking life-threatening risks. And together they hunt the villains.

The BUGS team is formed, and is immediately drawn into the vicious world of miniaturised weapons and customised viruses — one of which infects Ed. It's a race against time as Ros hacks into the computers of Cyberscope while Beckett chases a consignment of microbes that could exterminate the human race.

Life is never dull for the BUGS team. It's rarely even safe.
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #20
    Review: p38, Richard McGinlay, 5/10
  • TV Zone #78
    Review: p50, Deanne Holding
Television Episodes
50 Minutes | BBC1 | Colour

01/04/95 Out of the Hive Duncan Gould, from a story by Brian Clemens
08/04/95 Assassins Inc Stephen Gallagher
Notes
  • Paul Leonard is a pen-name of Paul Hinder. He has also written a number of original Doctor Who novels.
  • At the time BUGS was broadcast, Stephen Gallagher was best known as a novelist, although he had also written for both television and radio. Of most interest here are his two scripts for Doctor Who (Warriors' Gate / Terminus) and his adaptation of Chimera, his 1980 science fiction novel.

    Other UK telefantasy work would include two episodes of the supernatural anthology series Chiller (one based on an earlier BBC Radio 4 play), an adaptation of his own novel Oktober, which he also directed, and the unremarkable ITV drama series Eleventh Hour, a far more interesting version of which would end up being produced for CBS in the United States, with Rufus Sewell in the lead role.
BUGS: All Under Control

by
Sandy Mitchell
Cover image: BUGS: All Under Control, Virgin Publishing (1996)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Virgin Publishing
Publication Date April 1996
Original Price 4.99
ISBN 0735300205

All Under Control contains novelisations of two episodes from Season 1.

Back Cover Blurb
These days airliners almost fly themselves. When an untraceable influence takes temporary control of a plane's flight system and almost crashes it, computer failure is suspected. The arrival of a demand for 50 million makes sabotage seem more likely — and the BUGS team is called in.

Meanwhile an even larger amount of money is about to be stolen from the international banking system in a fraud that involves an ex-banker, his murderous wife, computerised financial transactions — and an obsolete submarine.

Ed, Ros and Beckett barely touch terra firma as their missions go from the airborne to the underwater.
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #20
    Review: p38, Richard McGinlay, 5/10
  • TV Zone #78
    Review: p50, Deanne Holding
Television Episodes
50 Minutes | BBC1 | Colour

15/04/95 All Under Control Duncan Gould, from a story by Brian Clemens
22/04/95 Down Among the Dead Men Stephen Gallagher
Notes
  • Sandy Mitchell is a pen-name of Alex Stewart, who went on to write Hell and High Water and Twin Geeks (co-written with Colin Brake) for Season 4 of the television series.
BUGS: Shotgun Wedding

by
Neil Corry
Cover image: BUGS: Shotgun Wedding, Virgin Publishing (1996)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Virgin Publishing
Publication Date May 1996
Original Price 4.99
ISBN 0735300302

Shotgun Wedding contains novelisations of two episodes from Season 1.

Back Cover Blurb
Anna Fabrizi is a new force in Italian politics: a popular crusader against corruption and crime. There are people who will stop at nothing to destroy her. As they protect Anna from assassins' bullets and smart explosive devices, the BUGS team become enmeshed in a web of double-crossing plots — and Ed is turned into a living bomb.

An even bigger bang threatens all three of the team when they are hired to protect the technological secrets of a new supercar — and they end up trapped in an unstoppable armoured vehicle with a nuclear power plant that's wired to explode.

Two nail-bitingly tense missions in one book — sheer dynamite.
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #21
    Review: p45, Rob Reed, 6/10
  • TV Zone #79
    Review: p48, Deanne Holding
Television Episodes
50 Minutes | BBC1 | Colour

29/04/95 Shotgun Wedding Amanda Coe
06/05/95 Stealth Stephen Gallagher
BUGS: Hot Metal

by
Liz Holliday
Cover image: BUGS: Hot Metal, Virgin Publishing (1996)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Virgin Publishing
Publication Date June 1996
Original Price 4.99
ISBN 0735300019

Hot Metal contains novelisations of two episodes from Season 1.

Back Cover Blurb
Phodex is the food of the future: cheap, easy to produce, and infinitely adaptable, it will banish famine forever. Its mutated form, on the other hand, is fatally toxic. The BUGS team is called in to protect the Phodex plant, but very soon Ros, Ed and Beckett are all that stand between mankind and extinction by poisoning. And Ros is already infected.

Meanwhile a new superconducting metal, R6, is found to have explosive properties that make it the perfect assassin's weapon. When a batch of the material is stolen Ros and Beckett hunt the thieves. Ed tracks down the missing metal — but gets tied up and has to hang around until the unstable substance detonates.

Power-hungry scientists, embittered researchers and professional assassins are almost a match for the BUGS team in this story of technological advances perverted into weapons of terror.
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #23
    Review: p41, Rob Reed, 7/10
  • TV Zone #80
    Review: p52, Deanne Holding
Television Episodes
50 Minutes | BBC1 | Colour

20/05/95 Manna from Heaven Gregory Evans
27/05/95 Hot Metal Alan Whiting, from a story by Brian Clemens
BUGS: A Sporting Chance

by
Andy Lane
Cover image: BUGS: A Sporting Chance, Virgin Publishing (1996)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Virgin Publishing
Publication Date July 1996
Original Price 4.99
ISBN 0735300361

A Sporting Chance contains novelisations of the final two episodes from Season 1.

Back Cover Blurb
Tri-meserone: a new drug that allows athletes to surpass all previous record-breaking levels of performance, without exhaustion or pain. And it's undetectable — apart from the side-effects. The BUGS team is called in when several of a gym's best sportsmen have suddenly collapsed; they uncover a plot to create an army of supermen. Ros is forced to run for her life, and Ed and Beckett are blown up.

Pulse weapons don't kill; they wipe computer memory. A criminal genius could become the wealthiest man in the world if he owned the small companies that make pulse bomb components and which would grow were the data banks of the worlds multinational corporations to crash simultaneously. Ros launches a missile; Beckett's prisoner in a playpen; Ed's trying to save an eight-year-old computer game prodigy. Can they possibly stop the criminal masterplan?
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #24
    Review: p42, Rob Reed, 7.5/10
  • TV Zone #81
    Review: p50, Deanne Holding
Television Episodes
50 Minutes | BBC1 | Colour

03/06/95 A Sporting Chance Colin Brake
10/06/95 Pulse Stephen Gallagher
Notes
Cover image: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Ghost in the Machine, Boxtree (2000)
  • Andy Lane has also penned a number of original novels based on Doctor Who, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased and Torchwood, as well as writing Mayfly for the Sky One science fiction drama Space Island One.
  • Colin Brake has also written a number of original Doctor Who novels, with his most recently published story being The Good, the Bad and the Alien, one of two stories included in the second of a brand new range of Doctor Who "chapter books".
  • Pulse features the first appearance of Jean Daniel (Gareth Marks), who became the main villain in Season 2 of the TV series.

    Although the story would never be produced, script writer Colin Brake has revealed online that, had a fifth season BUGS been produced, the mysterious taxi driver glimpsed at the conclusion of the Season 4 episode The Enemy Within would have been revealed to be Jean Daniel.