Captain Scarlet Day is almost upon us! But just why was July 10th chosen in recent years as the date for this annual celebration of all things Spectrum?
To find out, we go back to the original 1967 Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons television series, which includes July 10th as a notable date in its second episode, Winged Assassin. Here Captains Scarlet and Blue requisition an SPV from an undercover Spectrum agent who appears to be dictating a memo relating to a recent steel shipment, and gives the day’s date as July 10th – and with all of the episode’s remaining scenes taking place on the same day, then we have to conclude that the majority of Winged Assassin therefore takes place on July 10th.
It’s many episodes later that we next hear a July 10th date, given in Treble Cross by the air force sergeant from whom the Mysteron Major Gravener requisitions the XK-107 bomber. “I’ll give you a written order timed at 9.17, July 10th.” Meanwhile, the real Major Gravener is recovering in hospital and is told “It’s 9.17 a.m., Tuesday July 10th” when he asks what day it is. The night time car crash that opens the episode clearly occurs at 21.55 p.m. on July 9th, and the doctors who recover Gravener’s body from the water and rush him to hospital finally manage to resuscitate him just a few minutes after midnight, and so everything from the moment of the real Major Gravener taking his first breath also takes place on July 10th. The mention of it being a Tuesday also enables us to deduce that this episode takes place in the year 2068, since that’s the only year in the late 2060s and early 2070s that July 10th will fall on a Tuesday.
These two July 10ths would be difficult enough to reconcile, but unfortunately a third episode of the series also offered a July 10th date; the continuity-destroying Flight to Atlantica. This episode ends on July 10th, which is specifically stated to be Spectrum’s first anniversary. If we attempt to create a timeline of events that incorporates all three instances of July 10th, then it’s impossible not to conclude that all three episodes are somehow taking place on the same day. Spectrum have clearly been operating for some time prior to Winged Assassin, so the July 10th date given there isn’t their first day of operation (which it would have to be if we were going to be generous and say that Flight to Atlantica took place near the end of the series.) We know from the first episode that the series opens in 2068, and since the second episode directly follows on from that we know that its July 10th date means it also has to take place in 2068. However, since Treble Cross is also specifically taking place on July 10th 2068, the two episodes somehow have to be occurring simultaneously – with room for the Flight to Atlantica champagne party as well to celebrate Spectrum’s first anniversary. This also means that when Scarlet threw a champagne party on July 7th at the beginning of Atlantica, he was yet to be returned to duty following the events of the first episode!
It is, to put it simply, all terribly confusing.
But now the question is; why were so many Captain Scarlet episodes set on July 10th? Thankfully, the answer is a simple one, and lies in the identity of the writer of all these July 10th episodes, Tony Barwick – who simply slipped his own birthday into his scripts whenever he had the chance!