This Week in Star Trek History: First UK Intact Broadcast of TNG’s “The High Ground”
This Sunday, September 29th, marks the anniversary of the first UK intact broadcast of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The High Ground”. The kicker is: that episode didn’t air in the UK in its entirety until 2007, a full 17 years after it first aired in the United States.
A piece from The Irish Post back in August explains: “Far from the kind of nuanced writing that features regularly on TV today, [‘The High Ground’] was an episode offering social commentary on Ireland and 'The Troubles' with all the subtlety of a bulldozer travelling at warp speed.”
In the episode, Dr. Crusher beams down from the Enterprise for a routine medical supply drop on the unaffiliated planet Rutia IV. During her visit, a bomb explodes and she is taken prisoner by the Ansata separatist group. It was a thinly-veiled metaphor for the unrest in Northern Ireland, and even Data made reference to the conflict in a conversation with Picard.
In that conversation, Data cited the unrest in Northern Ireland as an example of terrorism working, highlighting the fictional reunification of Ireland in 2024. When the episode originally aired in 1990, “The Troubles” were still in full force in Northern Ireland and the IRA were regularly carrying out bombings and sniper attacks on British forces and civilians. Less than a year after “The High Ground” aired in the United States, the IRA attempted to assassinate British Prime Minister John Major by launching a mortar at Number 10 Downing Street.
Things relaxed a bit after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Satellite network Sky One broadcast the unedited episode in the UK in May 2006, but it wasn’t until September of 2007 that it made its way onto terrestrial television, on BBC Two.
To date, the episode has still never aired in its entirety in Ireland.
This article was written for the podcast Daily Star Trek News.
Alison Pitt is the writer, producer, and host of Daily Star Trek News, on the Roddenberry Podcast Network. A veteran Star Trek podcaster, she started her career on the weekly show Priority One: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast in 2015. She has appeared on panels at Star Trek Las Vegas, WonderCon, and San Diego Comic Con.