The seven highlights of “Temps X”

It was in a cosmic void in terms of pop culture on French TV that, on April 21, 1979 at 5:26 p.m. on TF1, the big bang Temps X smashed the PAF. For children who discover it, as part of the show Au plaisir du Samedi co-presented by Denise Fabre, Pierre Douglas and the magician Garcimore, the shock is brutal. A 36-candle knockout. Admittedly, four years earlier, the monthly magazine L’Avenir du futur already proposed to popularize science through the prime time broadcast of an SF classic, followed by a thematic debate. And on Antenne 2, from 1975 to 1978, Patrice Laffont (future animator of Numbers and Letters), had also been cheated on his side One in five, weekly meeting addressed to 15-20 year olds in which Igor and Grichka gave their first chronicles in their specialty. But Time X is unheard of.

In a spaceship decor, bent in their futuristic jumpsuit designed by Thierry Mugler, the twins tackle with symposium seriousness the major scientific questions and the news of science fiction in all its forms – cinema, comics, TV shows. Produced in the galaxy of TF1 youth programs (in the same way as L’Île aux enfants), Temps X is aimed more at teens and young adults, but will very quickly attract an even more tender audience, the same one who is never recovering. still not the whirlwinds of Star Wars in 1977 and Goldorak (broadcast on Antenne 2) in 1978. The kids eager for new images do not understand the sabir learnedly declaimed in a hypnotic voice by the Bogdanoffs, in the scientific part of the show – the one that really interests the two hosts. The young audience is hardly more interested in the few slips of the brothers during certain sets which blithely mix science and hoax.

8/12 year olds are in fact much more fascinated by the generous extracts from science fiction or fantasy films shown on the show, as well as these long reports (initially provided by the distributors, subsequently produced in-house) on behind the scenes of George Lucas’ blockbuster, but also of Alien, Flash Gordon, Shining and many others. Certain retinas and memories will be marked for life by this first contact with the crazy worlds of SF. “Temps X was the cornerstone of the legitimization of pop culture in France”, summarizes journalist Jérôme Wybon, co-author of the reference book Nos ans Temps X (Huginn & Muninn). “In addition to these unpublished images, the Bogdanoffs were the first to receive comic book artists like Philippe Druillet, Jean-Claude Mézières, Bilal or Mœbius, people who then did not really have the right of citizenship on French TV. The same goes for the special effects giants, to whose work long subjects are devoted. The first portrait of Ray Harryhausen in France was in Temps X in 1980, during the Clash of the Titans – and he was at the end of his career by then! All this has certainly given rise to vocations. The show created a new tone and achieved a real hold-up, in a context of still strong contempt, at the time in France, for all this culture which mainly came from the United States. ”

Within the Temps X ship, journalist Alain Carrazé, then barely twenty years old, was responsible for producing subjects related to current events in the cinema. The Bogdanoffs, especially versed in literature and indifferent to the 7th art, gave him carte blanche. Carrazé’s prerogatives in production will quickly expand, including the choice and purchase of cult series that will nourish the golden age of the show, foremost among which is The Prisoner and The Fourth Dimension. With this shadow craftsman (later a pioneer in TV series), Le Point Pop goes back in time to Temps X and deciphers seven key pop moments in the history of this UFO from French TV, which disappeared permanently from the radar in 1987. Long before the year 2000, its crossing of the airwaves heralded the future popular reign of the imaginary universes: a legacy that we will not be able to deny to the controversial Igor and Grichka, recently swept away by the Covid-19 and whose funeral will take place this Monday January 10 in the church of the Madeleine in Paris.

In the program of April 26, 1980, Temps X receives live the three witnesses – Franck Fontaine, Salomon N’Diaye and Jean-Pierre Prévost – of a meeting of the 3rd type with extraterrestrials who allegedly kidnapped Fontaine on November 26, 1979 in Cergy-Pontoise (Val-d’Oise). The case received national media coverage and the Bogdanoffs are taking it up. On the set, during a totally surreal scene, Jean-Pierre Prévost, supported by his two comrades, confides under hypnosis his exchanges with an entity from space which he baptized Haurrio. Shortly after, Grichka Bogdanoff interviews the zinzin and pro-Raël ufologist Jimmy Guieu, who came to support the three oracles, who predict alien contact with humanity for August 15, 1980 (or 1983) … in Cergy.

In control, Alain Carrazé is collapsed: “I discovered the presence of these guys live, with this hallucinating sequence which broke all the seriousness that Igor and Grichka intended to give to Temps X. It was a catastrophic moment for the ‘show, but important nonetheless. A pure zany club sandwich, symptomatic of the intellectual development of the Bogdanoffs. “So presenter of the TF1 JT and author of books on UFOs, a dismayed Jean-Claude Bourret comes down from his office just after the show – filmed in the same building rue Cognacq-Jay in Paris – to scold the trio:” If , on the precise date, there was a real extraterrestrial contact, the fact that I, Jean-Claude Bourret, had gone astray, that would no longer have any kind of importance. […]. If, on the other hand, by the scheduled date, nothing happens, you are not credible for a single second. »Unbearable suspense. The hoax, very real, was confessed and detailed by those concerned in June 1983.

2. The full broadcast of The Prisoner (1983)

On May 17, 1983, the mythical British series of the sixties with Patrick McGoohan landed in Temps X. This is not a first: in February 1968, the second channel of the ORTF has already broadcast 12 of the 17 episodes of the soap opera, but in disorder and general indifference. “The events of May 1968 completely eclipsed the series, which ended up as a stopgap program that was pulled out of the closet as soon as a strike or a canceled soccer match crippled the air. Scandal ! »Remembers Alain Carrazé. Briefly replaced by another scientific program between January 1982 and April 1983, Temps X returns with a novelty: the decision to broadcast, every other week, a TV series within the program to reduce the cost. The show had already temporarily hosted a series: 10 episodes of Cosmos 1999, during the summer of 1980, but it was a rerun.

The task of choosing the fiction was entrusted to Alain Carrazé, who then bought Le Prisonnier from the English distributor ITV. For the first time, the series is finally broadcast in order, in color and almost entirely (three episodes are still missing, they will end up being broadcast on M6 in 1991): “To my surprise, the impact media coverage has been tremendous, ”says Carrazé. “France really discovered Le Prisonnier in Temps X, and, for the last episode, even Liberation split a whole page on the series. A new generation was ready to discover this baroque and quirky object which raised so many psychological and political questions. The series was more than just entertainment. “In his launch of the first episode (L’Arrivée), Igor Bogdanoff is keen to see in The Prisoner also a theme on the existence of extraterrestrials – did you say obsession? And on March 14, 1984, Temps X will broadcast a long report shot in the Welsh village of Portmeirion, where the exterior of the soap opera was filmed. Then again, the kind of streak young sci-fi fans won’t find anywhere else on TV.

3. Return of the Jedi: report at ILM (1983)

On September 21, the Bogdanoffs offer a long subject devoted to the 3rd part of the first Star Wars trilogy, which will be released on October 19. For the first time, the show’s film crew moved to the United States, where Alain Carrazé and his band spent the summer putting together a slew of interviews that will be distilled over the course of this film. glorious 6th season of Time X. The magazine has previously aired behind-the-scenes reports on the sets of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, but this is content bought in the United States. The 15-minute report on Return of the Jedi, featuring exclusive interviews with the film’s special effects makers at ILM’s facilities in San Francisco, is a big first.

4. The spread of The Fourth Dimension (1984)

Rod Serling’s monumental fantasy anthology had already been partially broadcast on the ORTF in 1965, again with relative indifference. And it is again Temps X which, after Le Prisonnier, will orchestrate the rehabilitation of The Fourth Dimension in France, when it is broadcast from March 28, 1984, in the wake of the end of the Prisoner. The series will be entirely redoubled in French by its distributor Viacom for the occasion, and in order to warm the spirits, a screening of four episodes in preview is organized by TF1 during the International Fantastic Film Festival of Avoriaz – where Temps X will also regularly pose its cameras.

Alain Carrazé, who convinced the channel to buy the soap opera, arguing in particular about the forthcoming theatrical release of a sketch film produced and co-directed by Spielberg, will carefully select the stories programmed in Temps X: “We had to avoid broadcasting them. episodes too kitsch or too associated with American history. I favored, at first, stories related to science fiction, extraterrestrials … “All people are everywhere alike, the 25th episode of season 1, will open the ball on TF1. Other highlights of the series (re) discovered in Temps X will traumatize viewers for life, such as Question of Time, The Screaming Man, The Eye of the Admirer or the incredible How to Serve Man ( and its terrifying final twist).

5. Visit to Marvel’s premises in New York (1984)

On October 27, 1984, Temps X can be proud of another claim to fame: the production and distribution of the historic mini-documentary Les Héros de papier, during which Alain Carrazé’s team meets the artists of the publisher Marvel. Comics (including designer John Byrne), in their legendary premises in the heart of Manhattan. Without really knowing it, the show then achieves a veritable convergence of geek struggles. Young readers of the monthly superhero Strange (where the adventures of Spider-Man, Iron Man and other Daredevils have been published since 1970) are finally realizing that they are not alone: ​​a mainstream TV show respectfully addresses this universe and, in addition, opens the doors of the holy of holies to them… the offices of Marvel!

Even crazier: the report features interviews with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, legendary co-creators of the publisher’s greatest superheroes, in Los Angeles. For the New York footage, Marvel graciously loaned the team an extra disguised as Spider-Man, filmed performing entrechats on the streets of the Big Apple. A daydream for the viewer, but also for Alain Carrazé, who meets his idols while having to strive to remain professional. In these pre-digital times, the organization is heavily draconian: “We left with a team of six people – a director, a cameraman, a sound engineer, a lighting designer, a production assistant and myself – and whole cases of 16mm blank reels, each of which did not exceed 15 minutes of recording time. You had to get straight to the point in the interviews, ”recalls Carrazé, to whom Stan Lee will send a signed Silver Surfer poster. The following year, with the help in Los Angeles of the correspondent Jean-Marc Lofficier, Temps X will do it again with a long report devoted this time to DC Comics (The Blues of the paper heroes), garnished with interviews of comic book authors. adored by fans, such as Len Wein, Marv Wolfman or Frank MiIler.

6. The interview in Paris with Leonard Nimoy / Spock (1984)

Despite its (short) broadcast in France, between 1982 and 1983 on TF1 (replacing Starsky and Hutch on Sunday afternoons), Star Trek does not really put stars in the eyes of the French. The first film adapted from the series, directed by Robert Wise and released in 1980, for its part received a cordially contemptuous reception: in other words, Leonard Nimoy, interpreter of Spock on the move in Paris, does not trigger any particular fever. Temps X takes the opportunity to interview him in peace on a café terrace in front of the Center Pompidou, before filming some cutaways with the actor on the building’s escalators. The only passers-by to recognize it are American tourists.

7. The Double Report on Producer Gerry Anderson (1984)

“He was my living God, in my eyes he was the English Disney, I worshiped him”, comments Alain Carrazé soberly. “We took the opportunity of his new series Terrahawks – very bad and childish, but whatever – to make a double subject (2 x 15 minutes) on the backstage of the soap opera in the studios of Bray and a portrait of Anderson . Without telling him, we also interviewed in London his ex-wife Sylvia, with whom he had created Cosmos 1999 and Les Sentinelles de l’Air. With Gerry Anderson, I unfortunately came across an extremely cold man, a businessman who seemed to me to have lost fire. Sometimes it’s better to avoid meeting your heroes.

AND ALSO… Among the outstanding cinema news seen in Temps X, we will also note reports and / or making-of on the following films: Shining, Alien, Mad Max, Flash Gordon, The Black Hole, Beyond the Real, Excalibur , Superman II (with an interview with director Richard Lester on the Eiffel Tower!), Dune, Terminator, The Goonies, Back to the future or even SOS Fantômes… But also the memorable shows recorded on the snow-capped peaks of the Avoriaz festival; the broadcast in 1981 of traumatic extracts from the Japanese disaster film Nostradamus, end of the world 2000; and countless interviews with cult filmmakers (George Miller, John Carpenter, David Lynch, Douglas Trumbull, Robert Zemeckis…).