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Monday 23 October 2017

BBC face of astronomy starred in Irish aliens film

A young Patrick Moore from a scene in 'Them In The Thing', a 1950s B-movie about UFOs that was made in Monaghan
A young Patrick Moore from a scene in 'Them In The Thing', a 1950s B-movie about UFOs that was made in Monaghan

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Reporter

FOR 50 years he has been an authority on astronomy for the BBC but fans of Patrick Moore will be surprised to know he starred in a science-fiction film made in Ireland.

The veteran Sky At Night presenter starred in 'Them In The Thing', a low-budget movie, complete with flying saucers hovering over Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, in 1954.

Recently unearthed by the Irish Film Institute (IFI), the lost classic is the work of the late Desmond Leslie, whose family have lived in the castle for the past 300 years.

A lifelong UFO enthusiast, his interest in the extra-terrestrial prompted Leslie to pen a worldwide bestseller in 1953, 'Flying Saucers Have Landed'.

And a year later, to make his own alien movie, he enlisted help from the neighbouring village of Glaslough, as well as members of the Leslie family, including his son Mark Leslie.

"My dad was quite an experienced filmmaker with a high definition camera. He was pretty ambitious so the UFO film he made is nearly an hour long," Mark Leslie told the Irish Independent. He pointed out the pulsating UFO featured in the film is an old castle heirloom.


"The flying saucer is actually an old Spanish Renaissance shield which was hanging on a wall in the castle. My dad suspended it on a fishing line while my brother shone a mirror at it to make it glow," he said.

Having previously taken part in a TV debate with him on the subject of UFOs, Desmond Leslie invited the unknown English astronomer Mr Moore over to Ireland for a cameo in the film. This was three years before he first hosted 'The Sky At Night', which he still presents, 53 years later.

"Patrick was sceptical about flying saucers so he's seen throughout the film walking around Castle Leslie, not noticing the alien invasion," laughed Mark.

'Them In The Thing' will be shown in a coming IFI festival.

  • Hosted by Ryan Tubridy, the Archive Home Movie Heritage Day takes place in the IFI on August 21.

Irish Independent

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