The Night Of The Triffids by Simon Clark (CD review).

I’m a big fan of John Wyndham’s work and it was with interest/trepidation that I listened to the drama ‘The Night Of The Triffids’, a full-sequel to the original ‘The Day Of The Triffids’. In 1981, the BBC showed a TV series based on the inventive book which made us look at our houseplants in a new way but the Triffids on screen failed the fright test. A later version failed to ignite our imagination in the same way but sound-only Triffids are seriously scary.


Wyndham’s novel was published in 1951 and imagines the apocalypse that follows an almost universal blinding of the population after an extreme fall of colour-laden meteorites. The Triffids had been used as a crop but when they got loose from their fields and walked, they became the killers of mankind. They were also happy to eat them, too. Double whammy. The novel ended with an upbeat moment of hope but ‘The Night Of The Triffids’ pretty much turns out the light at the end of the tunnel-literally!

When twenty-nine year old David Masen (Sam Troughton) wakes up and believes he has gone blind, he is almost in despair. He lives in a community which has both blind and sighted on the Isle of Wight founded by his father Wyndham’s hero, Bill Masen (Paul Clayton). Luckily for David, he finds it is not his eyes and, as one of the few able to fly a plane, he is sent to investigate the unnatural darkness. After the plane crashes, he finds his calm and fairly ordered life changes forever.

Simon Clark talks on the extras about how he discovered the original novel when he was a teen-ager and finding there was no sequel, he ultimately wrote one himself. I’m pretty glad he did because this opens up the very tight world based in the UK to another continent and other sensibilities. He has picked up on issues such as racism and segregation and used them to form part of an exceptional drama. There is also good use of language traits of the 50s, such as segregation as, although this is set 30 years later, the original 1951 novel marks almost a cut-off of human development and we would not have seen society advance in the same way. Clark has treated the source material with respect but hasn’t let it hold him back from producing a piece that certainly holds its own against the original. It does suffer a bit of heroism and the women still don’t get full action woman status, although he does split his heroine into three which gives us different aspects of the same character. I’ve confirmed with the author there is deliberate use of the name of Seymour.

I loved ‘The Night Of The Triffids’ as it has some excellent dramatic flourishes, manages to incorporate the back story from Wyndham’s novel without dragging the story back and also brings its own themes and concerns into a dynamic and fast moving story. I had a tear in my eye at the end and this sound film made it happen. Well done to all concerned.

Sue Davies

October 2014

(pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 180 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-368-9)

cast: Sam Troughton, Nicola Bryant, Paul Clayton, Geff Francis, John Schwab, Becky Wright, Toby Longworth, Nigel Carrington and Helen Goldwyn

check out website: www.bigfinish.com

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