The Time Machine


Radio and audio

Escape radio broadcasts

The CBS radio anthology Escape adapted The Time Machine twice, in 1948 starring Jeff Corey, and again in 1950 starring John Dehner. In both episodes a script adapted by Irving Ravetch was used. The Time Traveller was named Dudley and was accompanied by his sceptical friend Fowler as they travelled to the year 100,080.

1994 Alien Voices audio drama

In 1994 an audio drama was released on cassette and CD by Alien Voices, starring Leonard Nimoy as the Time Traveller (named John in this adaptation) and John de Lancie as David Filby. John de Lancie's children, Owen de Lancie and Keegan de Lancie, played the parts of the Eloi. The drama is approximately two hours long and is more faithful to the story than several of the film adaptations. Some changes are made to reflect modern language and knowledge of science.

7th Voyage

In 2000, Alan Young read The Time Machine for 7th Voyage Productions, Inc., in 2015 to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of H.G. Wells' novel.

2009 BBC Radio 3 broadcast

Robert Glenister starred as the Time Traveller, with William Gaunt as H. G. Wells in a new 100-minute radio dramatisation by Philip Osment, directed by Jeremy Mortimer as part of a BBC Radio Science Fiction season. This was the first adaptation of the novel for British radio. It was first broadcast on 22 February 2009 on BBC Radio 3[8] and later published as a 2-CD BBC audio book.

The other cast members were:

  • Donnla Hughes as Martha
  • Gunnar Cauthery as Young H. G. Wells
  • Stephen Critchlow as Filby, friend of the young Wells
  • Chris Pavlo as Bennett, friend of the young Wells
  • Manjeet Mann as Mrs Watchett, the Traveller's housemaid
  • Jill Crado as Weena, one of the Eloi and the Traveller's partner
  • Robert Lonsdale, Inam Mirza and Dan Starkey as other characters

The adaptation retained the nameless status of the Time Traveller and set it as a true story told to the young Wells by the time traveller, which Wells then re-tells as an older man to the American journalist Martha whilst firewatching on the roof of Broadcasting House during the Blitz. It also retained the deleted ending from the novel as a recorded message sent back to Wells from the future by the traveller using a prototype of his machine, with the traveller escaping the anthropoid creatures to 30 million AD at the end of the universe before disappearing or dying there.

Film adaptations

1949 BBC teleplay

The first visual adaptation of the book was a live teleplay broadcast from Alexandra Palace on 25 January 1949 by the BBC, which starred Russell Napier as the Time Traveller and Mary Donn as Weena. No recording of this live broadcast was made; the only record of the production is the script and a few black and white still photographs. A reading of the script, however, suggests that this teleplay remained fairly faithful to the book.

1960 film

In 1960, the novel was made into an American science fiction film, also known promotionally as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. The film starred Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Yvette Mimieux.

The film was produced and directed by George Pal, who also filmed a 1953 version of Wells' The War of the Worlds. The film won an Academy Award for time-lapse photographic effects showing the world changing rapidly.

In 1993, Rod Taylor hosted "Time Machine: The Journey Back" reuniting him with Alan Young and Whit Bissell, featuring the only sequel to Mr. Pal's classic film, written by the original screenwriter, David Duncan. In the special were Academy Award Winners Wah Chang and Gene Warren.

1978 television film

Sunn Classic Pictures produced a television film version of The Time Machine as a part of their "Classics Illustrated" series in 1978. It was a modernization of the Wells' story, making the Time Traveller a 1970's scientist working for a fictional US defence contractor, "the Mega Corporation". Dr. Neil Perry (John Beck), the Time Traveller, is described as one of Mega's most reliable contributors by his senior co-worker Branly (Whit Bissell, an alumnus of the 1960 adaptation). Perry's skill is demonstrated by his rapid reprogramming of an off-course missile, averting a disaster that could destroy Los Angeles. His reputation secures a grant of $20 million for his time machine project. Although nearing completion, the corporation wants Perry to put the project on hold so that he can head a military weapon development project. Perry accelerates work on the time machine, permitting him to test it before being forced to work on the new project.

2002 film

The 1960 film was remade in 2002, starring Guy Pearce as the Time Traveller, a mechanical engineering professor named Alexander Hartdegen, Mark Addy as his colleague David Filby, Sienna Guillory as Alex's ill-fated fiancée Emma, Phyllida Law as Mrs. Watchit, and Jeremy Irons as the Uber-Morlock. Playing a quick cameo as a shopkeeper was Alan Young, who featured in the 1960 film. (H.G. Wells himself can also be said to have a "cameo" appearance, in the form of a photograph on the wall of Alex's home, near the front door.)

The film was directed by Wells's great-grandson Simon Wells, with an even more revised plot that incorporated the ideas of paradoxes and changing the past. The place is changed from Richmond, Surrey, to downtown New York City, where the Time Traveller moves forward in time to find answers to his questions on 'Practical Application of Time Travel;' first in 2030 New York, to witness an orbital lunar catastrophe in 2037, before moving on to 802,701 for the main plot. He later briefly finds himself in 635,427,810 with toxic clouds and a world laid waste (presumably by the Morlocks) with devastation and Morlock artifacts stretching out to the horizon.

It was met with generally mixed reviews and earned $56 million before VHS/DVD sales. The Time Machine used a design that was very reminiscent of the one in the Pal film, but was much larger and employed polished turned brass construction, along with rotating quartz/glasses reminiscent of the light gathering prismatic lenses common to lighthouses (In Wells's original book, the Time Traveller mentioned his 'scientific papers on optics'). Hartdegen becomes involved with a female Eloi named Mara, played by Samantha Mumba, who essentially takes the place of Weena, from the earlier versions of the story. In this film, the Eloi have, as a tradition, preserved a "stone language" that is identical to English. The Morlocks are much more barbaric and agile, and the Time Traveller has a direct impact on the plot.

Derivative works

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal

This film, produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit, is a biopic of George Pal. It contains a number of filmed elements from Pal's 1960 film version of The Time Machine.

Time After Time (1979 film)

In Time After Time, H.G. Wells invents a time machine and shows it to some friends in a manner similar to the first part of the novel. He does not know that one of his friends is Jack The Ripper. The Ripper, fleeing police, escapes to the future (1979), but without a key which prevents the machine from returning home. When it does return home, Wells follows him in order to protect the future (which he imagines to be a utopia) from The Ripper.


In the Sliders season 3 episode, "The Last of Eden", the Sliders land on a world reminiscent of the book The Time Machine, in which there are two distinct species of humanoids: one group lives above ground, and the others live below the surface is in the "forbidden zone". Shortly after arriving, there is an earthquake and Wade falls below the surface. When the others seek help from the locals to rescue her, they learn their two chief laws: "Do not dig in the earth" and "Do not go into the forbidden zone". When Quinn finds a local willing to help, they travel below the surface and find a group of mutated people who were trapped below ground when the "gineers" set up a gimbal device to keep the surface elevated.

Wishbone episode

The Time Machine was featured in an episode of the PBS children's show Wishbone, entitled "Bark to the Future". Wishbone plays the role of the Time Traveller, where he meets Weena, takes her to an ancient library, and confronts the Morlocks. The parallel story has Wishbone's owner, Joe, relying on a calculator to solve percentage problems rather than his own intellect, recalling the mindset that created the lazy Eloi.

Time Kid (2003)

The Time Machine was loosely adapted for a Nickelodeon animated television film for 2003. In this version the main protagonist is the inventor's son, Tom, who must go to the future in search for his father.


The 2011 Syfy made for television film, Morlocks, is extremely loosely based on The Time Machine. In this film, a failed scientist, Dr. James Radnor (David Hewlett), has invented a time portal that goes into the future. There, a race of monsters known as Morlocks have destroyed humanity. There are no Eloi in this film, but the military time travel project is known as "Project E.L.O.I."

Warehouse 13

The Syfy Channel TV series follows the adventures of government agents tasked with finding artifacts from around the world which have special powers, often having negative supernatural effects. They are stored in Warehouse 13, which is the latest in a series of 'warehouses' that have existed throughout history. Along with countless artifacts, the warehouse contains various famous and infamous historical figures that have been stored in a suspended form called 'bronzing'. This includes H.G Wells who turns out to be a female named Helena G. Wells. When she is 'unbronzed', it is then known that she had been an agent for Warehouse 12 during the 1800s. The character becomes a series regular guest who assists the warehouse agents, but has occasionally become an antagonist. The H.G. Wells Time Machine is also stored in the warehouse, but functions somewhat differently than what is written in the original book.


The seventh episode of the Seventh season of Futurama, titled The Late Philip J. Fry, features several allusions and references to the novel although often departs from the original plot.


Classics Illustrated was the first to adapt The Time Machine into a comic book format, issuing an American edition in July 1956.

The Classics Illustrated version was published in French by Classiques Illustres in Dec 1957, and Classics Illustrated Strato Publications (Australian) in 1957, and Kuvitettuja Klassikkoja (a Finnish edition) in November 1957. There were also Classics Illustrated Greek editions in 1976, Swedish in 1987, German in 1992 and 2001, and a Canadian reprint of the English edition in 2008.

In 1976 Marvel Comics published a new version of The Time Machine, as #2 in their Marvel Classics Comics series, with art by Alex Niño. (This adaptation was originally published in 1973 by Pendulum Press as part of their Pendulum Now Age Classics series; it was colorized and reprinted by Marvel in 1976.) From April 1990 Eternity Comics published a three-issue mini-series adaptation of The Time Machine, written by Bill Spangler and illustrated by John Ross — this was collected as a trade paperback graphic novel in 1991.

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