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I saw this as a kid (i. e. late 80s or early 90s) on TV, so my memory of it is very hazy. Language must have been German dub (if not original German).

This was a short film (pretty sure it was not a long movie due to the compact plot) set in an air traffic control tower. The ATC crew receive a radio message claiming to be from an UFO requiring assistance for an emergency landing. At first the crew think it's a prank by children (the radio voice sounds childlike) and ask to stop broadcasting on that frequency. Somehow the UFO people manage to convince the ATC crew they are genuine.

Meanwhile, things are getting more dire on the UFO, according to the radio voice they're running out of air and one of their crew has already passed out. I don't remember whether the radio voice simply knew the human metric system or whether they somehow established common ground, but at some point the main ATC guy assures them they can help the UFO land within five minutes (before their air runs out), and at some point later the radio voice announces the UFO altitude as 100 metres.

At this point one of the ATC people remarks "we should be able to see them", but when they look out of the ATC tower windows, nothing can be seen. Then some realization dawns on main ATC guy. He runs down and out of the tower and picks a tiny, blue-blinking UFO out of a rain puddle. I think the UFO people drown.

My brain also insists that main ATC guy's name was "Hercules", though that makes little sense?

Can anyone identify this production?

2 Answers 2

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This is probably the episode "Pictures Don't Lie" (1962) from the TV series Out of this World, based on the 1951 story of the same name by Katherine MacLean.

Quoting from a review of the episode:

An alien spaceship is now speeding towards Earth, and they've sent us transmissions of their own: sure enough, the aliens look very similar to Earth people. Surely we'll all get along just fine, then.

The aliens have notified us that they intend to land in a particular field at a particular time. [...]

Something's wrong! The aliens claim to have reached our planet ... yet they don't see anyone waiting for them, and the waiting humans don't see the alien ship. Now the aliens claim to have landed in an ocean of noxious chemicals, and they're being attacked by bizarre monsters. Angrily, they accuse us of lying to them. The transmission fades as the 'monsters' (from Earth, apparently) destroy the aliens.

You can read the original short story the episode is based on at Project Gutenberg.

I knew this had been asked about before so I searched here: site:scifi.stackexchange.com tiny aliens drown in a puddle which lead me to this answer.

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  • Thank you. Reading the IMDB description I found the plot is very close, but not exactly what I remembered. Based on this, I tried some more Google searches and eventually found this: gemeinschaftsforum.com/forum/index.php/… I'm pretty sure that's what I watched: very likely a different adaptation of the same short story, apparently broadcast as part of "Spaß am Dienstag", a popular children's programme in the 80s. The aliens survive, though. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find the short/episode on YouTube or similar. Jan 26, 2022 at 21:17
  • @AlexanderKlauer If you can track down any pages for that show (like on IMDb) you should post your own answer to record it. (Aside: What happened on Wednesday? Calisthenics?)
    – DavidW
    Jan 26, 2022 at 21:32
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The answer by DavidW ticks most of the boxes but the quoted Out of this World episode wasn't actually what I watched as a kid. The crucial hint for me, however, was that, as DavidW wrote in the linked answer, that episode is based on a 1951 short story titled "Pictures Don't Lie" by Katherine MacLean.

Googling for "pictures don't lie Flughafen" (Flughafen is German for airport) first led me to this page, where I got the hint that there is a German short film called "Notruf auf 121,5" ("emergency call on 121.5") which ran several times as part of the popular German children's programme "Spaß am Dienstag" ("fun on Tuesday", successor of "Spaß am Montag", predecessor of "Spaß am Mittwoch", in case you were wondering). I'm assuming that this short is just another adaptation of the same short story.

Googling further, I found this page with the following details:

Notruf auf 121,5 (1985)
17 Minuten, 16mm, Farbe
Produktion: Misfits Produktion/WDR
Regie: Klaus Peter Fischer
Kamera: Werner Kubny

I'm now 99% sure this its what I saw, though I haven't been able to find it on YouTube or other video sites. There is an IMDB entry for Spaß am Dienstag, sadly not for the episode in question (the correct epsiode number is claimed to be 121 in the above links). WDR is a public German broadcasting service, so it should be possible to obtain a copy from them. This copying service is not cheap, however, so probably not going to do it.

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