As Canadian government and industry officials attempt to get the genetically modified flax variety Triffid out of the system so shipments can resume to Europe, British TV viewers were being reminded of the sci-fi creature of the same name.
In December the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) aired a new two-part made-for-TV adaptation of the 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids by British author John Wyndham.
The novel was previously adapted for a 1962 film starring Howard Keel and Janette Scott, and a 1981 BBC TV mini-series, as well as several BBC radio dramatizations.
The fictional Triffids are described as plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour: they are able to move about on their three “legs,” appear to communicate with each other and possess a deadly whiplike poisonous sting that enables them to blind and kill humans and feed on the rotting carcasses of their victims.
Wyndham’s book implies they were bioengineered in the Soviet Union and then accidentally released into the wild when a plane carrying their seeds is shot down. Triffids begin sprouting all over the world, and their extracts prove to be superior to existing vegetable oils. The result is worldwide cultivation of Triffids.
In the new TV version, which BBC commissioned in 2008 for broadcast this year, the Triffids are cultivated as a source of alternative fuel called Triffoil. When a solar storm leaves most of the world’s population blinded, millions of the man-eating plants begin to roam Britain.