Follow TV Tropes


Series / My Parents Are Aliens

Go To
What could possibly go wrong?

My Parents Are Aliens is a British children's sitcom which aired on ITV between 1999 and 2006. It told the story of Brian and Sophie Johnson, a couple of Shapeshifting Valuxians stranded on Earth, and their adopted children, Mel, Josh and Lucy, with new children being adopted into the family in later seasons. For the final season, the set and most of the cast were completely changed.

While stranded, Brian and Sophie attempt to study Earth culture, in order to fit in and thus avoid being found out and taken away for scientific experimentation. A typical episode would begin with Brian and Sophie learning about some aspect of Earth culture and misunderstanding it completely, resulting in various wacky hijinks. Often, they would attempt to help the children out with their schoolwork and social lives, inadvertently making things far more complicated than they were in the first place and resulting in some painfully farcical plots.


The show's self-referential humour and frequent Parental Bonuses attracted a cult following above the target age group. Sadly, few episodes were ever released on VHS, and the closing of ITV's in-house production of children's shows means that the show ended abruptly after the eighth series. The show continues to be repeated on ITV's children's channel, CITV.

My Parents Are Aliens provides examples of:

  • Alien Catnip: the Bizarre Alien Biology of the titular parents cause them to get very high from various innocent things. A Running Gag was that eating ice cream would cause Brian to sprout a pair of moose antlers.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Despite being from the planet Valux, Brian and Sophie can speak perfect English and talk with English accents.
  • An Aesop:
    • Like any show about families, everyone drives each other crazy, but cares about each other deep down.
    • Advertisement:
    • There is a price for scamming people, try telling that to Josh.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Having several changes as the series goes on, it shows Brian and Sophie when Brian pressed the red button which resulted in them crash-landing on Earth (the opening credits is the only time we see the exterior of the ship or Brian and Sophie in their true alien forms). We then see them morph into their human forms and head to the children's home and pick up the kids, then back at the house.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: It's played straight, and subverted at the same time. Lucy due to her cleverness and, in particular Josh with his mischievous behaviour, fit the trope quite well for Mel (just as she, with her aggressive and sarcastic attitude, sort of does for them), but there is also Brian, since, despite being their foster-father is able to morph into any one of the siblings at will (though usually only when asked) and can cause "annoying" problems in that sense. Also, since he and Sophie are not from planet Earth, the role of an adult using experience to explain things to a clueless child is generally reversed from the parents to the children throughout.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Aliens can morph into the appearance of anyone/thing.
  • Butt-Monkey: C.J. He's always the victim of Brian's mischief, not that he minds though.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Reruns on CITV omit Season 8, and after the Season 7 finale go back to the Season 1 opener.
  • The Eeyore: Pete, he always seems so sad all the time. Well, you would be if you had a friend like Josh.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The series is a master of it.
    • No prizes for guessing what the title "Textual Relations" is a pun of.
    • In "Howie", the children are informed by Brian and Sophie that they will be getting a new siblingnote . After ruling out both Sophie and Brian being pregnant, Lucy and Josh turn towards Mel, who exclaims "Hey!"
    • One of the most notable examples being a two-part story called "Beauty and the Breast". The episode, starting from its title, is a non-stopping shitting on the radar. The title alludes to the "parents" undergoing a Sexual Identity Crisis. Both of them.
    • In "Wheels of Misfortune", Brian starts using a voice synthesizer, and later on, when it is noticed that he's stopped using it, he says that it broke when he made a spelling mistake talking to a trucker.
    • Another audacious example is "Fangs For The Mammaries", where Sophie morphs her breasts to bigger and bigger sizes to get what she wants.
    • In "The Naughty List", Lucy notes that they need more ball bearings. Josh, having found Pete's birthday present broken by Brian, quips "you're telling me!"
    • In "The Trouble With Harry", Harry recalls going downstairs in the middle of the night to find Brian morphed into Mel while "jiggling his funky bits" to Kylie Minogue.
    • In "Wrestlemaniac", Sophie uses a mobile phone to listen to Mr. Whiteside "shake his bacon bits" in the toilet among other things.
    • Not to mention the episode 'Meet and Two Veg' the title of which references an English slang phrase (meat and two veg) referring to a penis and balls.
    • In "Thanks for All the Earthworm Custard", Josh gives Pete a broken calculator, the only use of which is the classic "80085 = BOOBS".
  • Homeschooled Kids: One episode had Brian try to do this with Josh after falling foul with his teacher. It didn't last very long as Josh found Brian's Biology lesson stupid.
  • Hong Kong Dub: An episode has Lucy arriving home to find Brain in a karate outfit. When he talks his lips don't match up with his mouth. Lucy then sees Brian has been watching a karate videotape and tells him that it is dubbed.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: An extremely frequent element, both as minor gags and plot points, with Brian's aforementioned ice cream-induced antlers being a memorable example.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Brian and Sophie are so damn self centered that it is amazing. Brian even wrote a musical about himself and in the episode where he tries to be nice, he has pictures of himself everywhere.
    • Wendy is so full of herself and takes pride in being clever, that she doesn't want to share it with anyone, especially Lucy. The biggest example are when she and Lucy are cast in the Nativity and Wendy spends more time making the play focus on herself rather than anyone else in the cast.
  • Jerkass:
    • Brian and Sophie can be this most of the time, due to their childish selfishness.
    • Josh always scams people for money and gets Brian and Sophie to do things for him. He barely shows any sympathy for anyone.
    • Mr Whiteside is selfish, arrogant and blames people for things that they actually haven't done.
  • Just in Time: Subverted in Aliens Go Home: a countdown clock reaches zero — and goes on down into the negative numbers. "On our home planet, countdowns go to minus 10!"
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare: The episode King Brian is closely based on the Shakespeare play King Lear, in which Brian gets fits of insecurity and challenges the three kids to dsplay who loves him best. Lucy will have nothing to do with it, makes a point of saying "nothing" several times, and walks out, playing the Cordelia role. And they say kids' TV is rubbish and un-educational...
  • Lethal Chef: Virtually everything cooked by Sophie Johnson uses rather... nonstandard ingredients. Like sausage cake, or chicken nuggets — complete with bones, feathers and "fresh" chemical additives.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Josh is a victim of this on several occasions.
    • In the Series 6 episode, The Alienist, where Brian gives a speech on alien rights.
      Brian: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, carbon and silicon-based organisms, Josh."
    • In the Series 7 episode, The Love Bug, a letter that Brian and Sophie leave behind after they run away starts with "To our dear children... and Josh." Justified in that Brian loathed Josh for apparently trying to steal Sophie from him, when he just wanted them to stop being all lovey-duvey.
  • The Nth Doctor: In series 1 and 2, Sophie Johnson was played by the blonde Barbara Durkin. From series 3 onwards, Sophie was played by brown-haired Carla Mendonça. It was explained in-show as Sophie having got 'stuck' that way after morphing.
  • Oop North: The show was filmed in Yorkshire and most of the cast are from that county. Mrs Hardman, Poppy Manning and some of the students speak in very strong Yorkie accents, but strangely not the main cast.
  • Retcon: There's a few examples, but there is one which sticks out the most. How Brian and Sophie chose their disguises. Originally they had disguises resembling two people they had seen on television. Unfortunately, the show was Crimewatch and the forms they had taken were wanted felons. One quick catalogue search through later, and they were in their familiar forms. In the series 7 finale, Thanks for All the Earthworm Custard, it was said that they had taken the familiar (series 1 and 2 for Sophie) forms from the real uncle and aunt of the Barker children, who also happened to be named Brian and Sophie
  • ReTool: Series 8. Brian and Sophie's memories were erased, resulting in them not remembering anything of the Barkers, any events that occurred, or Earthling ways that they learnt during the shows entire run. This series was dubbed "Phase 2" by fans, as the styles of Brian and Sophie, the rest of the cast, the sets, the location and even the galactic guidebook all changed. Needless to say, it was not taken well. With only one series of this new style, some fans felt that the final episode of series 7, Thanks for All the Earthworm Custard, should have been the final episode, as it was the last to feature the original regular cast, and concluded ongoing plots from the first seven series.
  • Running Gag: Brian's ambition to become King of Canada, specifically Canada rather than Earth or even the Commonwealth. This is first mentioned in Series 3's "Magic Johnson" and carries on into Series 7, one example being "Hallowe'en Tales". Perhaps it is no coincidence, as revealed in "Thanks for All the Earthworm Custard", the Barkers' Aunt Sophie and Uncle Brian lived in Canada.
  • Schmuck Bait: The website had a button in its side menu which when you rolled over it highlighted in red and a voice said "Do not press" (and was labeled accordingly). The question is, what did happen if you pressed it?
  • Those Two Guys: The show had Frankie and Pete for seven years. There was also a kid called Mikey for the first three episodes,and occasionally a kid called Dave.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In the episode "Nappy Rash", Baby Brian projectile vomits over Lucy, and Mel vomits in the episode "Pygmalien" after she discovered that she ate a hamster.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: