by Georgina Bruni
Was this one of the most astounding and
frightening conspiracies ever, or was it just a clever hoax?
British scientists vanishing off the face of the earth. Astronauts’
reports of strange craft they saw on the moon’s surface. Social
dropouts being abducted and used as slaves on an alien planet. Life
on earth is doomed. A shocking international government conspiracy
involving a plan to save only a chosen few individuals....
During the 1970s you could say that the United Kingdom suffered a
great loss of brain power. The Brain Drain, a terminology
used for the mass exodus of some of the best surgeons and scientists
in the country, were being enticed with huge paychecks to work in
the United States. At the same time, small groups of
environmentalists were just beginning to understand the problems
facing the ozone layer, most of the general public were still
unaware of the environmental issues yet to come, and very few people
appeared to have heard of NASA’s space shuttles.
The Story Breaks
At 9 p.m. on June 20, 1977, Anglia Television, based in Norwich UK,
put out an unusual one hour TV special. The program was
simultaneously transmitted to a number of other countries which
included Australia, New Zealand, Canada,
Iceland, Norway, Sweden,
Finland, Greece, and Yugoslavia. The name of the Television program
was "Alternative 3." However, it wasn’t just a ’one
off’ TV special, as many have been led to believe, but the last in a
series of science fact documentaries, called Science Report. It was
for this reason that the program would shock the world, and in the
days to follow would rock the station’s credibility. The one hour
program informed viewers of a huge conspiracy involving the
States government and NASA. They showed a piece of film which was
allegedly passed on to the program’s team by an insider from NASA
The footage, which appeared to be
authentic, featured a U.S. astronaut landing on Mars, and
"Boy, when they take the wraps off this, it’ll be the biggest
day in history. 22 May 1962, we’re on Mars and we have life."
what really scared the public on that hot summer evening was not the
alleged Mars landing, but news that planet Earth was dying, and that
’social dropouts’ were being abducted and shuttled off into space to
serve as slaves on some alien planet. Viewers were told that life on
Earth was doomed, and that there were only three alternatives
available for survival. Alternative One was to blow two holes in the
ozone layer, but this, it was feared, would cause skin cancers. It
would also involve a rule to stop polluting the planet immediately.
Alternative Two was to begin digging underground cities for the
elite few, the rest of civilization would be left to fend for
themselves on the dying surface. Alternative Three was to
hell off the planet. Apparently the third alternative was already in
operation, and the world’s top scientists were being commissioned to
assist in this ’above top secret’ operation. But the narrator then
tells us that many of these scientists were simply disappearing off
the face of the earth.....
When the program ended at 10 p.m., Anglia were besieged with calls
from irate viewers demanding more information. Callers were told not
to panic, that the program was just a hoax, and a frightened public
sighed with relief and went back to their armchairs to watch the
remainder of the 10:00 news, followed by a light entertainment show.
The next morning the national press confirmed that the program was a
hoax, and pointed out that the scientist Dr. Carl Gerstien, who had
tried to warn the world of the impending disaster, was none other
than the well known actor Richard Marner. The Times of London
"Independent television companies last night received
hundreds of protest calls after an Anglia program, Alternative 3,
gave alarming facts about changes in the earth’s atmosphere. It was
a hoax, originally intended for April 1st."
Anglia got a scolding and the public were relieved of their fears.
We know that the "Alternative 3" program was put together by a
respectable team of science reporters who had a regular weekly slot
titled Science Report. We know that it was an intelligent
documentary series which reported on new scientific inventions, and
we know that it was because of the teams’ credibility that
Alternative 3 was taken so seriously. The question is: why would a
serious science investigative team who had a regular weekly
documentary series suddenly produce a hoax? Even taking into
consideration that it was originally intended to be an April Fool
hoax, it’s hardly fitting for a team of their caliber to produce
such a program.
I remember having mixed reactions to the disturbing documentary, or
drama, as it was later to be called. One theory that had crossed my
mind at the time, and incidentally, I did see the program, was that
the science team were genuinely on to something, but that the
witnesses were unwilling to take part in the documentary. Three
months after the program aired, I met a cameraman at a party in
Berkshire, who claimed to have been part of the film crew. He told
me outright that Alternative 3 was a hoax, and that they had used
actors. He also said the crew were all joking about it at the time.
Well, by now most people knew that actors had been used, but few
knew that the film crew, or least one of them, had confirmed it was
Alternative 3, The Book
By 1978 the story looked like dying a death, when suddenly Sphere
Books published Alternative 3, written by
LESLIE WATKINS and DAVID AMBROSE. Those who were able to
secure a copy read with interest a story that was a follow-up of the
television program produced by Spectrum (not Sceptre as some
believed) for Anglia Television. And so began The Alternative 3
Saga, and an attempt by thousands worldwide to uncover what they
believed to be one of the world’s biggest conspiracies.
I purchased the newly published paperback of Alternative 3 from a
popular book store in Berkshire. There in the center of the store
was a huge display of the books, as was always the case when they
had delivery of what they thought would be a bestseller. I was so
excited about the book that I immediately called a friend of mine, a
collector of publications on "the unexplained," who I knew had been
interested in the television program. The following day he phoned to
tell me that the store didn’t have the book, I was surprised, I
thought it highly unlikely that they had sold all the copies. So I
returned to the store to discover that the display had indeed
disappeared, and there was no sign of the book anywhere in the
store. I summoned the manager who admitted that he had been told to
remove the stock from the shelves and return them to head office. I
pushed him for more information, but all he would say was that it
came from high up. It was this incident that prompted me to believe
that there may be some truth to the story of Alternative 3 after
all. Due to public demand the book was re-printed several times in
the following years, and incidentally, it is still listed under
World Affairs, and not as you might expect, fiction.
The publication was intriguing because some names and events were
genuine, whilst others didn’t exist. One name mentioned, was that of
Otto Binder who was a member of the NASA space program. In the book
he’s quoted as saying that NASA killed significant segments of
conversation between mission control and Apollo 11, the spacecraft
Buzz Aldrin and
Neil Armstrong to the Moon, and that those
segments were deleted from the official record. It’s interesting to
note that Binder was also a science fiction writer. According to an
alleged quote by Binder, when Aldrin spoke to mission control he
"These babies were huge, sir...
enormous. Oh God, you wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there
are other spacecraft out there.... lined up on the far side of
the crater edge.... they’re on the Moon watching us."
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who is also named in the book, had
previously described his feelings when looking at this world
from the Moon.
"I went into a very deep pathos, a kind of anguish. That
incredibly beautiful planet that was Earth..... a place no
bigger than my thumb was my home... a blue and white jewel
against a velvet black sky... was being killed off."
And on March 23, 1974, he was quoted in
a London newspaper as saying.
"Society had only three ways in
which to go and that the third was ’the most viable, but most
What was Mitchell trying to tell us more
than 20 years ago -- was he trying to warn us about Alternative 3?
The book also reported on animal mutilations, space shuttles,
man-made domes on the moon, environmental problems, and
scientists. All of which would later public knowledge. Inasmuch as
astronomers were seeing and writing about unusual domes that had
recently appeared on the moon’s surface. NASA would announce news
about the U.S. space shuttles, governments would acknowledge the
environmental issues, including the pollution of the ozone layer,
and later we would learn of the many disappearances and horrible
suicides surrounding British scientists.
A Letter From Leslie Watkins
The following is a letter from the author of Alternative 3, Leslie
Watkins, it was placed in the public domain of the Internet in the
VANGARD SCIENCES archives on October 28 1989.
A letter to Ms Dittrich from
Windwords bookstore (address unknown).
Dear Ms. Dittrich
Thank you for your letter, which reached me today. Naturally, I
am delighted by your interest in Alternative 3 and by the fact
that you plan to sell it in the Windwords bookstore. I will
certainly cooperate in any way I can.
The correct description of Alternative 3 was given to you by the
representative from Penguin Books. The book is based on fact,
but uses that fact as a launch-pad for a HIGH DIVE INTO FICTION.
In answer to your specific questions:
1) There is no astronaut named
2) There is no Sceptre Television and the reported
3) There is no Dr. Gerstein.
4) Yes, a "documentary" was televised in June 1977 on
Television, which went out to the entire national network in
Britain. It was called Alternative 3 and was written by
Ambrose and produced by Christopher Miles (whose names were on
the book for contractual reasons). This original TV version,
which I EXPANDED IMMENSELY for the book, was ACTUALLY A HOAX
which had been scheduled for transmission on April Fools’ Day.
Because of certain problems in finding the right network slot,
the transmission was delayed.
The TV program did cause a tremendous uproar because viewers
refused to believe it was fiction. I initially took the view
that the basic premise was so way-out, particularly the way I
aimed to present it in the book, that no one would regard it as
non-fiction. Immediately after publication, I realized I was
totally wrong. In fact, the amazing mountains of letters from
virtually all parts of the world including vast numbers from
highly intelligent people in positions of
responsibility-convinced me that I had ACCIDENTALLY trespassed
into a range of top-secret truths.
Documentary evidence provided by many of these correspondents
decided me to write a serious and COMPLETELY NON-FICTION sequel.
Unfortunately, a chest containing the bulk of the letters was
among the items which were mysteriously LOST IN TRANSIT some
four years when I moved from London, England, to Sydney,
Australia, before I moved on to settle in New Zealand. For some
time after Alternative 3 was originally published, I have reason
to suppose that my home telephone was being tapped and my
contacts who were experienced in such matters were convinced
that certain intelligence agencies considered that I probably
knew too much.
So, summing up, the book is FICTION BASED ON FACT. But I now
feel that I inadvertently got VERY CLOSE TO A SECRET TRUTH. I
hope this is of some help to you and I look forward to hearing
from you again.
With best wishes
Anglia Television & The Actors
In the early ’90s I called Anglia Television and spoke to a charming
lady called Maureen who worked in the records department. Maureen
was very helpful and told me she still received at least one call
per month about the program, and that some people get really angry
and can’t accept it was a drama. She told of one student who flew
all the way from the United States and called from
to ask if he could see the film, and that he really got upset when
refused. Maureen was a trainee back in 1977, and she remembers doing
the paste-ups for the special, she worked on stills at the time.
Maureen said they used actors in the drama and suggested I call the
London PR office for permission to give the names and contact
numbers of the actors. They gave permission and here are some of the
actors who appeared in the TV special:
Shane Rimmer........Bob Grodin (astronaut)
Carole Hazell....... Investigative Journalist
Richard Marner...... Dr Carl Gerstien( Professor)
Ivor Roberts........ ?
Fibi Nicholas....... Harry’s Girl
David Baxt.......... Harry
Tim Brinton......... Played Himself As A Presenter
I spoke to Richard Marner’s agent who
assured me that Marner’s CV stated that he did actually do one day’s
filming with the program "Alternative 3" on January 25, 1977. I
later called Richard Marner who confirmed it, and he remarked that
it was the easiest job he’d ever done. He didn’t do any filming in
the studio, and apparently the crew had problems with Cambridge
University because they filmed him on the steps without permission.
He said he didn’t even rehearse the lines and that it was all very
rushed. Today Richard Marner is best known for his part as
Yon Strohm in the British sitcom ’Allo Allo’. I checked with
Spotlight, a listing for actors and entertainers, and found that
Shane Rimmer and Ivor Roberts were with Howels & Prior Agency.
Shane Rimmer played the part of the fictitious astronaut, Bob Grodin.
Rimmer is a well known science fiction and spy thriller writer who
also does voice-overs and has acted in numerous popular films and
television spy dramas, including a James Bond movie. He was also the
famous voice of Captain Scot Tracy in Thunderbirds.
I understand that Tim Brinton later became an Member of Parliament,
and I discovered that the director of the program, Christopher
Miles, is the brother of actress Sara Miles. Maureen told me
"Alternative 3" was a hoax, Anna Dicki from the London office said
it was a drama. Anglia PR lady Veronica Clover told me it was an
April Fool spoof and went out on April 1st. I argued that it didn’t
air on April 1st, she later checked, realized her mistake and kindly
mailed me a photocopy of the original TV Times showing clearly that
"Alternative 3" aired on June 20. Maureen doesn’t remember any of
the actors filming in the studio. What I found strange was that she
didn’t mention David Ambrose, but told me that Christopher Miles
devised the original script. However in the book it clearly states
that the TV film was devised by both David Ambrose and Christopher
Miles. Leslie Watkins had no involvement with the television
program. In my research I have been unable to trace David Ambrose,
the alleged writer of the TV program. Leslie Watkins states, he only
used Ambrose’s name on the book as co-author for contractual
Who, and where, is David Ambrose?
Fiction Based On Fact?
So twenty years on, are we any the wiser? Are there any new clues as
to the validity of the story or was it really the greatest hoax
ever? Well, if it were a hoax, I would expect the hoaxers to be
available for comment on their prolonged success. To sum it up, I
agree with the author of the book, Leslie Watkins, I believe the
story is fiction based on fact. But the question still remains:
where did the fact originate? In their research, did the science
team stumble on above top secret information which had to be
suppressed? In their enthusiasm, did they realize their scoop was
too good to dismiss, and not being able to use the witnesses for the
program, did they pull in professional actors to play the part? But
then, I ask myself, why did they use well known actors, why not new
faces? Or maybe David Ambrose, wherever he is, was just a conspiracy
theorist with great ambitions!
And as a final note: the original and only can of film marked
Alternative 3 mysteriously disappeared from Anglia’s archives, and
apparently it is the only film ever to go missing. But word has it
that copies of the film have been distributed amongst several UFO
researchers. Well at least they’re in good hands!
Alternative 3 is published by Spere Books Ltd, a division of
Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd., ISBN O-7221-1126-6.