Ufos: The Proof is Out There, Channel 5, Film Editors Chris Scurfield and Gary Crystal, Director of post production Ed Begona, produced and directed by Mark Raddice.


A screenshot from USS Princeton released by US defence department, April 2020. Stare at the tic-tack long enough and the object will move.

 “Senior officials briefed on the intelligence conceded that the very ambiguity of the findings meant the government could not definitively rule out theories that the phenomena observed by military pilots might be alien spacecraft”, the New York Times reported.

I’m nearly sixty. Our solar system is almost five billion years old. Like me, it’s a middle-aged star. What I know about the world is approximately five billion earth years’ old divided by sixty. I cheated at maths. So I never got around to solving the Fermi paradox or the relatively simple Drake equation.

  • R = 1 yr−1 (1 star formed per year, on the average over the life of the galaxy; this was regarded as conservative)
  • fp = 0.2 to 0.5 (one fifth to one half of all stars formed will have planets)
  • ne = 1 to 5 (stars with planets will have between 1 and 5 planets capable of developing life)
  • fl = 1 (100% of these planets will develop life)
  • fi = 1 (100% of which will develop intelligent life)
  • fc = 0.1 to 0.2 (10–20% of which will be able to communicate)
  • L = 1000 to 100,000,000 communicative civilizations (which will last somewhere between 1000 and 100,000,000 years)

 Factor in the discovery of almost 20 new planets beyond our solar system. Leave it all to machine intelligence and what we get is the paperclip apocalypse predicted by Nick Bostron. There are worse ways to die than by paperclip.

What we do know is space exploration has never been so buoyant. Every billionaire wants his piece of Mars with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezo’s New Shepherd, and Elon Musk, SpaceX, duelling above where taxes are paid. NASA’s space web telescope was successfully launched on Christmas 2021. China’s building a space station on the moon. Even Brexit Britain is getting in on the act. The UK Space Agency tendering for satellite launch pads. The world above our head will be full of space junk to fill our head with even more junk via our phones, or whatever is the next big thing. Mission Impossible is to switch off, and there’ll be even more photos and videos of UFOs to consider.  

The problem with these ventures is they rely on fossil fuels. Ironically, Operation Paperclip took many of the Nazi scientists using slave labour to bomb Europe to America and their basic model powered us to the stars. The tick-tack models caught on radar where able to fly (outfly) the best military hardware (80 to 100 times the speed of Concorde) at gravity-forces that would have scrambled biological entities and able to enter the water without breaking up. Sonar picked them up travelling underwater at speeds that blew modern submarines away. An aberration, perhaps.

But if we travelled to the nearest planet, five-light years away, it would take 70 000 years (give or take a few years).  We have picked up planets where light seems to have been harvested. I don’t know what that means either. But I try to sound like I do. That’s the direction of travel with Ufos. Once we thought the Atlantic was uncrossable. We look for fragments of cellular life on Mars. Who knows what we’ll find? Not me. I used to have an open mind, but I closed that book long ago.   

Too difficult for Boris

As you get older the spring of optimism gives way to the winter of pessimism. You know that no matter how hard you try you will never play for Celtic, especially given the fact that you couldn’t get a game for your pub team. Surplus to requirements.

Your bullshit detector, however, gets more refined with age. The charlatan that is Boris Johnson gets short-shrift for everything he says and everything he stands for, for being Boris Johnson, basically.

Boris Johnson is like a Buddhist sutra there are always aspects of his bullshit waiting to be discovered.

His reluctance, for example, to commit to bringing a handful of British children back from Syria because it was too difficult.

We all know about the Kindertransport that saved mainly Jewish, middle-class, children from the Nazi state prior to the beginning of the second world war. That didn’t seem too difficult. We put children on a train and then we put them on a ship.  Around 10 000 of them arrived safely.

Taking soil samples from the surface of Mars needs a larger commitment and to be more organised.

  1. Sending a rocket up into the Earth’s atmosphere to circle our planet.
  2. Sending it on a trajectory to Mars.
  3. Orbit Mars
  4. Land on the Syritis Major region.
  5. Send a robotic vehicle from the hold of the spaceship to collect soil samples
  6. Collect samples of soil from the surface of Mars put it in a metal tube and seal them.
  7. Leave sealed metal tubes on the surface of Mars.
  8. Send a second spaceship to Mars and land it near to the metal tubes.
  9. Send a second robotic-rover across the surface to pick up the metal tubes and bring them back to the craft.
  10. Use a specially designed rocket to send the metal tubes into orbit around Mars.
  11. Send a third spaceship to intercept the orbiter with soil samples on board.
  12. Bring the spaceship back to Earth.
  13. Break through the Earth’s atmosphere.
  14. Release the capsule by parachute to a spot on the Utah desert.

Not really that difficult is it? Now imagine for a minute that you are Boris Johnson and somebody asks you how difficult it would be to bring a handful of children from camps in Syria.