Flipping Flip

The Flipside of Dominick Hide was a television play broadcast in 1980 which told the story of Dominick Hide a man from the year 2130 who works as a Correlator who reports on London transport of the time.

This is because in the year 1999 there was a holocaust, which has ultimately lead to the future of Dominick Hide, where people pretty much have a sterile existence primarily indoors, and all records from before that time have been lost hence people travelling back in time to observe events and report back on them and catalogue them.

Dominick has discovered that his great grandfather was from that time and he is eager to actually meet him. However one of the cardinal rules of time travel in his world is that it is only for observation purposes and actually landing and interacting with the people from the past is strictly forbidden.

This doesn’t stop Dominick who lands on the Earth in 1980 and tries to find his great-great grandfather. All he wants to do is meet this ancestor of his but despite that he goes back time and time again as he meets these people that he quite likes, including a beautiful young woman called Jane, who is nothing like the women of his time, who he gradually falls in love with (despite him having a wife back in his own time), and she reciprocates this, and soon they begin a physical relationship which ultimately leads to Jane becoming pregnant with Dominick’s child.

It turns out that this child is the ancestor that Dominick has been looking for, and that he is his own great-great grandfather, which is the ultimate twist in the tale.

Dominick is from the year 2130 which doesn’t seem to be that far in the future really when you see it at face value as they seem to exist in the way that people did back in 1980 and still do today, with a bit more technology available.

Each house has its own domestic computer named Soo who can talk the occupants and keep an eye of them, which is quite a Big Brother sort of thing and quite spooky, if probably quite useful when you think about it.

The houses also have a wall that is used as a screen which can either be used as a video screen for making calls or as a hologram projector for entertainment purposes, quite futuristic for the later seventies and early eighties, but not so much nowadays.

Couples are matched by a computer, and if they are not happy they can be reprogrammed, which sounds a lot like internet dating of today. Sex seems to be rather passionless in this society and more of a dutiful thing to do, and it is the custom to shower before.

In this future people are told to stay indoors and only view things from observation domes probably because what ever happened in this holocaust mentioned in the play doesn’t make the outdoors a very safe place to be, but people aren’t completely banned from using it, just merely suggested not to.

The clothes that people wear don’t seem to have altered much apart from the fact that are made of some strange material and seem to mostly be wrap around in style, other than that they aren’t that far removed from what people wore back when the play was broadcast, apart from the strange wide-brimmed hat that Dominick wore.

Time travel is commonplace in this society and a lot of people can have access to it, and you can even go on holiday to the past (Dominick’s wife’s Eva is a tour guide for Tom Cook and that is basically what she does) and view past events as long as you don’t attempt to join in and possibly change history.

This is made clear in the play with the example of a person who had done exactly that and accidentally changed history, which caused lots of people who existed in the future to be removed from the timeline due to what happened in the past i.e. the death of a dog, who was to raise an alarm and without the dog an architect died and because he died all of his future buildings fell down causing thousands of people to be killed.

Flying saucers, the kind seen in fifties B-movies are the vehicles that are used by time travellers in this play to observe the past, rather than being used by little green men as was often the case in sci-fi stories.

At its heart this is a very simple, and quite sweet, love story with science fiction trappings. Yes it is also about infidelity as Dominick gets off with Jane despite having a wife back home but, due to the fact that it is happening more than 120 years apart, it really doesn’t feel like he is cheating at all.

You also have to remember that Eva, Dominick’s wife, doesn’t seem that bothered either when he tells her what he has been up to, so why should we feel bad for her that she is at home whilst he is enjoying himself in the arms of another woman, especially when said roll in the hay is imperative to her husband very existence.

Much of the play’s humour comes from the reactions of Dominick to the way people live in the 1980s such as him interrupting a couple having sex outdoors by asking them the way to a place called Port Beal, walking into a musician in a pub mistaking them for a hologram, not understand the concept of money (which much not exist in his time) Dominick’s reaction to Jane’s use of aerosols, his simple delight at smelling a flower, drinking a pint of beer, walking on the beach, simple pleasures that are unheard of in the sanitised future that Dominick comes from.

This is one of the finest examples of the genre made by the BBC and, it is a real shame, that it is hardly ever repeated, as it something that is really worthwhile watching.

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