Somewhere in England, an unidentified flying object crash lands in a suburban potting shed. It contains a tiny, shiny, spherical visitor from a distant world, urgently in need of help. Befriended by two boys, and named the Glitterball, it has strange powers, and a ravenous appetite for electricity – as well as cakes, crisps and custard. But how will it get home?

Released in the same year as Star Wars, but made for just a tiny fraction of the money, The Glitterball is an innovative and ingeniously small-scale sci-fi adventure. It was produced for The Children’s Film Foundation (CFF), a not-for-profit organisation that made a multitude of entertaining, intelligent films for British kids, from the 1950s right through to the 1980s.

Like all CFF films, this compact tale of close encounters was shot on a shoestring. But it still boasts outstanding visuals, with striking special effects by Brian Johnson (who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien) and Barry Leith (animator of Paddington and the Wombles). Not long afterwards, director Harley Cokeliss was enlisted to shoot the SFX sequences for The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

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