Was The 1977 Southern Television Broadcast Interruption A Hoax?
Government agencies that regulate television and radio signals are pretty astute when it comes to maintaining the security of the airwaves. But just after 5 p.m. on Nov. 26, 1977, unsuspecting viewers in England who tuned into the nightly news experienced a Southern Television broadcast interruption by a ‘voice from space.’ To this day, no one knows for certain who was behind the interruption.
Southern Television Broadcast Interruption a Hoax?
On this particular Saturday evening, unbeknownst to those working at an independent television station in southern England, thousands of viewers were subjected to a six-minute message from an entity referring to itself as Vrillon of the Ashtar Galactic Command.
During the broadcast, Vrillon warned his unassuming audience of the dangers humans were getting themselves into by using weapons of mass destruction. Vrillon also confirmed the UFO phenomenon and his race’s presence “seen as lights in the skies.” Vrillon warned humanity to be wary of false prophets and the evils of money, before imploring his audience to live in harmony and put down its weapons.
The transmission returned to the evening’s normally scheduled programming of Looney Tunes before viewers were assured by news broadcaster, Andrew Gardner, that everything was alright and that it was simply a hoax. But some began to panic, frantically phoning the station under the assumption that the apocalypse was upon them, despite Ashtar Command’s seemingly peaceful dispatch.
News stations distorted the story, reporting different names and versions of Vrillon’s message. This added to the confusion creating a War of the Worlds-type anxiety among those who couldn’t fathom the possibility of a hoax. Adding to the conspiracy is the fact that the culprit of the transmission has still never been discovered.
Many believed the broadcast to be the doing of the Raëlian community, the UFO church founded just four years earlier by Claude Vorilhon, whose name sounds and looks uncannily similar to the Ashtar Commander, Vrillon. Was the name Vrillon just a misconstrued pronunciation of Vorilhon?
The Southern Television broadcast is often compared to the Max Headroom Chicago broadcast interruption of 1987 or the Captain Midnight HBO interruption a year earlier. Though the culprit in the latter case turned out to be a disgruntled employee.
The particular broadcasting system that was being used by the Southern Television station was unusual in that it bounced one signal to another transmitter on the Isle of Wight, rather than using a direct landline like most television transmitters at the time. This allowed the signal to be interfered with, though it would take someone well-versed in the technology to intercept and interrupt it.
What is strange about the Ashtar Command broadcast is that not everyone heard the name “Vrillon” that night. Some say they heard the name “Asteron,” some heard “Gillon,” and others heard “Bramaha.” Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the only audio or video evidence of the message is a reenactment.
George Van Tassel
One of the originators of UFO religion was a man named George van Tassel. In the late 1940s, Van Tassel found himself living in an area of the Mojave Desert at the behest of an eccentric friend named Frank Critzer. Critzer had created a home for himself under a massive boulder, known as Giant Rock, that was sacred to local Native American tribes but would become the epicenter of one of the biggest UFO movements in North America.
Critzer dug out his home under this standalone, 70-foot rock and built a number of airstrips around it. Unsurprisingly, many people thought he was strange and avoided his subterranean digs. Then, under some odd circumstances, Critzer found himself in trouble with the government and was accused of being a spy, before being killed in 1942 during a police confrontation involving a box of dynamite.
Van Tassel worked for Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed as an aeronautical engineer and flight tester for experimental aircraft, before moving his family out to the desert where Critzer had lived. There, he built a café and received approval from the BLM to hold conventions and operate Critzer’s airstrips.
Soon the family started holding UFO conventions for thousands of people, with Van Tassel believing Giant Rock to be a source of electromagnetic energy that allowed him to contact extraterrestrial beings. He would hold meditation ceremonies under the rock to contact these entities, one of which resulted in a meeting with an alien who gave him the schema to build the “Integratron,” a structure supposedly capable of time travel that still stands there to this day.
One of the entities met by Van Tassel was a being called Ashtar, who said he was on a space station overseeing Earth. Ashtar gave a dire admonition of similar sentiment to the 1977 Southern Television interruption, involving warnings about nuclear weapons and destroying the planet, and spawning an entire UFO religiosity that still exists to this day.
While all of this seems fantastical and possibly the product of a wild imagination, there is one event tied to Van Tassel that adds an eerie layer to the story. In June of 1952, before the Washington, D.C. UFO incident, Van Tassel sent a series of letters to government agencies warning that spacecraft would soon fly over Washington. A few weeks later, one of the largest UFO events occurred, in which thousands witnessed what appeared to be a fleet of spacecraft hovering over the capitol building. That was the same year he claims he was contacted by Ashtar.
The story of George Van Tassel came to an oddly abrupt end when he suddenly died of a heart attack during his construction of the Integratron. Those who knew him said he was in good health and are skeptical about the ostensible cause of his passing. The Integratron was never fully completed as Van Tassel never shared the final details on the electromagnetic functions of his project.
A War of the Worlds Situation?
On the night before Halloween in 1938, Orson Welles’ narrated his sci-fi drama War of the Worlds over a radio broadcast that supposedly caused thousands to panic, presuming an alien invasion was in the midst of occurring.
The extent to which people were genuinely frightened and took to the streets is debatable, but some have proposed the idea that this type of dystopian broadcast could have been part of a government test, gauging the population’s susceptibility to a feigned extraterrestrial assault. Could it be possible that the 1977 Southern Television broadcast interruption was a test of the same ilk?
The long-held conspiracy, Project Blue Beam, suggests the idea that the government may someday stage an alien invasion as a means to control the population or garner support to fight an unseen enemy in a false flag event. The recent New York Times exposé on the clandestine Pentagon UFO program has left some uneasy, thinking this sudden disclosure could be just that.
That admission of a $22 million, black budget program to study UFOs came from the efforts of a team headed by pop rockstar, Tom Delonge – a strange choice to lead such a profound revelation. Meanwhile, his correspondence with government contacts and a cadre of high-level military and CIA agents sounds like a disinformation campaign in the making.
The U.S. government has been known to manipulate and toy with the minds of UFO believers, sometimes driving them to the brink of insanity in order to protect secrets. Would it be far-fetched to think this could be the latest?
Still, the question of whose voice created the Southern television broadcast interruption, claiming to be an extraterrestrial entity from the Ashtar Galactic Command remains. While it’s likely that the culprit was simply someone wanting to create a hoax, the sober tone of the message adds to the mystique of this signal from outer space. Was this the same Ashtar that George Van Tassel was in contact with? Or was it a test for a staged alien invasion to come?