Ultraviolet is a 1998 United Kingdom television series written and directed by Joe Ahearne and starring Jack Davenport, Susannah Harker, Idris Elba and Philip Quast. The music was composed and performed by Sue Hewitt. The programme was produced by World Productions for Channel 4.
Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield (Jack Davenport) discovers that his best friend Jack (Stephen Moyer) has gone missing on the night before his wedding. Investigating Jack's disappearance leads Michael into the path of a secret paramilitary vampire hunting organization supported by the British government and the Vatican. Michael learns that Jack has become a vampire. Michael remains devoted to his friend and abhors the brutal methods used by the organization's agents – including Vaughn Rice (Idris Elba) – until he realizes that Jack is lying about his situation and that the vampire hunters are correct in their assessment of the vampires. He allows himself to be recruited by the organization, but he hopes to find a middle ground.
Over the course of the series, Michael and the organization investigate vampire-related activity, often involving medical experimentation. Individual cases involve a woman who may be pregnant with a vampire fetus, a vampire test subject with synthetic blood, and the outbreak of a disease related to vampirism. The vampires are organized, and appear to be moving toward a common goal; the organization must determine what their agenda is. Living and working in the shadows takes a personal toll on the organization's agents: Michael's relationship with Jack's fiancée (Colette Brown) is threatened by his need to hide the truth from her; Angie Marsh (Susannah Harker) must come to terms with the loss of her husband, who was killed by the organization after becoming a vampire; Fr. Pearse Harman (Philip Quast) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, but fears that leaving his post may doom the world to whatever fate the vampires have in store for it.
The final episode reveals that the vampires' plan does not involve enslaving humanity as suspected. Instead, they plan to cause a nuclear winter, providing long-lasting darkness, and completely wiping out the threat of humanity with an engineered plague. Scientific advances made during their experiments will allow them to survive on synthetic blood and reproduce via live birth, eliminating the need for human victims.
The show attempted a modern and scientific approach to vampires. It eschewed much of the supernatural elements of vampire lore. The word "vampire" is never spoken in the show. The formal term for the antagonists is "Code Fives", derived from the Roman numeral for five, V, which is also the first letter in "vampire". A slang term used is "leeches". The vampire hunting squad uses modern versions of traditional anti-vampire weapons: carbon bullets instead of wooden stakes; gas grenades with concentrated allicin, a compound derived from garlic; and video camera sights on firearms to determine if a suspect is not human, since vampires are invisible to electronic devices.
A prominent theme in the show is the emotional and social toll that the main characters knowledge causes them. After joining the squad, Michael feels he must distance himself from his former friends in order to protect them. Angie March comments at one point that she's "getting a reputation as an anti-social parent" because she won't let her daughter attend social functions after dark. Vaughn Rice is in love with Angie, but cannot bring himself to tell her due to the stress of their job. At several points in the show, both Michael and a captured vampire question whether the team's methods are justified.
Vampires in the series are depicted as ageless and immortal. They are stronger and faster than normal humans, to the extent that a physical encounter between a human and vampire will almost always be fatal for the human. Vampires lack most of the supernatural powers attributed to them in folklore, such as turning into bats, mist or wolves. The folkloric lack of a reflection is extended in the series: vampires are invisible to electronic devices. They can not be imaged by video cameras, and can not be recorded on video tape or film. Their voices can not be transmitted electronically and ink will not hold an impression of their fingerprints. Vampire DNA is invisible under an electron microscope. Vampires use voice synthesis software to communicate via telephone. They use cars with blacked out windows in order to move outside during the day, and time-locked coffins for long-distance travel.
- "Habeas Corpus"
- "In Nomine Patris"
- "Sub Judice"
- "Mea Culpa"
- "Terra Incognita"
- "Persona Non Grata"
In 2000, the American Fox Network developed an ongoing series version of Ultraviolet, starring Eric Thal, Joanna Going and Mädchen Amick and with Idris Elba reprising his role from the British series. The American version did not however progress beyond an unaired pilot episode. Howard Gordon, one of the producers contracted to develop the series, admitted in an interview that "we screwed it up and it just didn't come out that well."
The original UK version has been screened by the Sci-Fi Channel in the US. It was shown originally as a three-part miniseries (each part being two of the original episodes shown consecutively), and during some later airings all six episodes were shown in a marathon format.