The Aliens. Image shows from L to R: Dominic (Jim Howick), Lewis (Michael Socha), Lilyhot (Michaela Coel). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.

The Aliens

E4 comedy drama. 6 episodes (1 series) in 2016. Stars Michael Socha, Michaela Coel, Jim Howick, Michael Smiley, Trystan Gravelle, Holli Dempsey, Neil Fitzmaurice and Alex Beckett.

The Aliens. Image shows from L to R: Lilyhot (Michaela Coel), Lewis (Michael Socha), Dominic (Jim Howick). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.

Introducing The Aliens

The creators of 'The Aliens' introduce the concept behind the show...

Okay, so 40 years ago a UFO crash landed off the British coast.

You might think that a close and ongoing encounter with aliens would've had a big impact on human history or even make us newly humble about our place in the universe. But no. The creatures inside the UFO looked just like us. And they turned out to be not especially scary or clever or sexy. They weren't the shock troops of an alien landing force. They didn't bear messages from a dying planet. Or bring a new technology, or have special powers. So yeah, just like us. Exactly like us.

As other inter-human prejudices have fallen away, the one that survives and thrives and unites humans is a distaste for aliens; a perceived sense of their inferiority, their "otherness". Generally, humans don't like them and that's okay. So if you can imagine the smallest possible impact on human history that an alien landing could have, you're about there. Humans then put the aliens in a ghetto, known as Troy, and they just got on with it. eBay still happened, Radiohead still exist, and there's always a new Jason Statham film.

To be a tiny bit more historically precise, for a long time human prejudice was enough to ghettoise aliens. We let them into our schools long enough for them to lose any sense of their own identity. But they never mixed and bullying them was encouraged. Plus there's a huge demand for 'fur' - alien hair and Troy's biggest export - a powerful hallucinogen when smoked by humans, and the humans' latest recreational drug of choice. This all led to a lot of crime originating in Troy. This half-arsed attempt at integration by humans in turn confirmed and established what they believed all along: the aliens are all crims.

The next time an election came around, the number one item on every party's manifesto is to section off the alien ghetto, put a fortified ring around it and that way keep crime in. So now an alien can leave the ghetto to go to his or her shitty, menial job on the other side of the fence in human society. Or to illegally sell humans their hair. But in order to be allowed to cross to the human side they have to wear a high-vis wristband and they have to abide by the night-time curfew.

There's no schools in Troy, no NHS, no infrastructure of any kind. The aliens are left completely to their own devices and the humans have turned their back on them entirely.

This show is set in both sides of the divide, the human side of town and Troy - and also in the border crossing between them. The human side is a small English town that's on the skids. The alien side is much more colourful: 'Sin City meets Tijuana'.

Troy is lawless. Every street corner has its own fur house, where alien hair is shaved, before being cut with more readily available dog hair, and packed into tight marijuana-like blocks to be smuggled over the border. There's no police. Gang wars go unchecked and uninvestigated. As far as everyone's concerned the aliens can kill each other as much as they like as long as they do it on their side of the wall.

But when the unthinkable happens, and our hero Lewis discovers he's the world's first alien-human hybrid, he finds himself tumbling down the rabbit hole and embroiled in gang wars, fur smuggling, shootouts, jail breakouts and hostage situations...

A timeline of events

The Aliens. Image shows from L to R: Dominic (Jim Howick), Lewis (Michael Socha), Lilyhot (Michaela Coel). Copyright: Clerkenwell Films.

Here is a timeline of events since the aliens arrived on Earth...

1974: First Contact

In 1970, scientists identified a meteor-like object that had entered our Solar System. The US probe Mariner 10 was returning from an unrelated mission to photograph Saturn when it passed the object. Images captured by the probe indicated that the object was a winged space-craft. The photographs also displayed signs of a micro-climate surrounding it similar to that of the Earth, which was our first indication of sentient life. The object was a spacecraft, and home to 383 Aliens. In December 1976 the Kuiper Communications Satellite picked up waves of sound that reflected patterns similar to that of human speech. The International Council for Science announced that they were launching a mission to communicate with the inhabitants of the craft. Efforts failed, but Aliens would soon make physical contact in the landings of 1977.

1977: Aliens Arrival

On April 12th 1977, Jodrell Bank first picked up images of the craft entering the Earth's atmosphere at an approximate speed of 200 mph. Scientists calculating its trajectory predicted that it would land just off the West coast of the UK. In fact it crashed into the Irish Sea 10 miles west of the Northern Welsh coastline, at 06:02hrs 12th April. With a diameter of 500m, the impact of the craft saw tidal waves of heights of up to 12 feet hit the West coast of Wales and the East of mainland Ireland. The crash landing was watched on television by more people than any other event in history. Rafts packed with Aliens emerged from the Ark in an attempt to make it to solid land before the ship capsized. The rafts landed at the Welsh coast by the town of Trefor, where the prime minister, flanked by police and the British Army, was stationed to receive them.

1977: Alien Integration

In the months after the landing, the military placed Aliens into temporary camps in North Wales. The government launched an investigation into whether the Aliens posed any threat. After extensive interviews, no aggressive intentions were detected. Doctors found no signs of foreign diseases. Evidence that Aliens were benign creatures, with familial and hierarchical structures which matched our own, provoked civil rights activists to call for their release from the camps. On 2nd August 1977, the government announced that Aliens would be allowed to join British society. An initiative unprecedented in its scale was launched to integrate Aliens into British life. Temporary housing was set up throughout the country to support Aliens whilst they acclimatised to human institutions. Alien children were welcomed into schools and Alien adults into work, and other public establishments such as hospitals and nurseries began to offer their services to Aliens. The prime minister decreed there should be equal opportunity irrespective of planet of origin.

1990: Riots

In 1990 riots were the violent culmination of dissatisfaction with integration from both Humans and Aliens. Supporting Alien integration had proved a massive strain to the UK economy. Human taxes were increased by 20% whilst Aliens were exempt from paying them at all. A 1988 public consultation revealed that the vast majority of UK citizens were anti-Alien integration. Aliens claimed that they had been housed in the most poorly resourced parts of the country and faced widespread discrimination from public institutions. 75% of Alien males were out of work, and levels of crime and poverty were rife in Alien communities. The root of much of the violence is attributed to the widespread trafficking and selling of Alien hair, which became illegal contraband in 1985. Official records state that the drug had claimed up to 200 lives. Gang violence between Humans and Aliens was rampant in the 1980s. The call for Alien segregation had been garnering more and more support, and after the particularly violent riots of February 1990, the government passed segregation into law. This resulted in the decision to build an 'Alien Migrant' establishment.

1990: Building the Wall

In the early morning of the 13th February 1990, temporary barriers cordoned off the 6.8 square miles area we now commonly known as Troy. Police and transport units ushered Aliens into the area, where they were enlisted to build the structures in which they now live and sleep in. Over the next few months, construction of the wall began in earnest. Coils of barbed wire strung along the border were replaced by a wall of concrete slabs. The final completed wall, which consisted of over one-million tons of reinforced concrete, took over two-years to build. Aliens made up the majority of the labour force used to build the wall, with the help of human construction equipment. Aliens who refused to cooperate were subject to prison sentences. Over 85 Aliens were arrested for failure to comply in the first few months of 1990 alone.

Aliens Today

Today there are 6,000 Aliens living inside the wall. Most of the Alien population live there permanently, while others are allowed to cross the border daily for work on the human side. Troy is a fully-functioning town with its own economy. A post office, doctor's surgery, bar, and leisure centre are amongst the facilities available to Aliens within the walls of Troy. The checkpoint is the only point at which it is possible to pass through the wall, the Border Patrol are instrumental in regulating all checkpoint movement. Once an Alien has moved onto the Human side, they are tagged with a yellow bracelet making it easier for the indigenous population to recognise an Alien.

Published: Monday 7th March 2016