Ultraviolet is a 1998 British television serial written and directed by Joe Ahearne and starring Jack Davenport, Susannah Harker, Idris Elba and Philip Quast. It was produced by World Productions for Channel 4.
A modern retelling of the vampire myth, Ultraviolet revolves around a government-funded paramilitary police unit, which may have connections to the Roman Catholic Church fighting a secret war against a worldwide vampire conspiracy.
The main character, Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield, played by Jack Davenport, is a police detective who encounters agents of this organization when his partner and best friend Jack disappears. In this first encounter they pose as officers of the Complaints Investigation Branch (CIB) of the London Metropolitan Police Force investigating possible corruption on Jack's part. Mike is initially unsure of whom to trust, as Jack accuses the agents of being a "death squad": the modern version of the Inquisition; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, he soon finds that his old friend has been co-opted into the vampire conspiracy and learns of their plans to control the destiny of mankind.
A hallmark of the series is the scientific methods used by the agents as they investigate a variety of cases. The theme of scientific methods being used to investigate the paranormal has a long history in British television (see Quatermass and the Pit and The Stone Tape). In Ultraviolet these methods allow the vampire hunters to develop modern weaponry to fend off their foes - instead of stakes, they carry automatic handguns with carbon bullets and specialized sights that use video cameras to differentiate between vampires and humans (vampires are invisible to recording devices); instead of wreaths of garlic, gas grenades containing concentrated allicin; instead of sunlight, lamps emitting ultraviolet light. The traditional idea of religious symbols repelling the creatures is regarded as a placebo and not relied upon. A major character describes it as "a matter of faith...on both sides." The thrall attributed to vampires is explained as chemical suggestion, a side effect of feeding. The conversion of humans into vampires is regarded as pathological infection, not demonic possession. The vampires in turn use scientific tactics, not supernatural ones. Genetic engineering plays a major role in the vampire conspiracy, as female vampires do not menstruate and male vampires are sterile. They use cars with UV resistant glass for ground travel during the day, and time locked caskets for long-distance air travel. They use Vocoders to communicate over telephone lines.
To maintain a more modern and realistic feel the word "vampire" is never spoken in the series; the members of the organisation avoid the word, perhaps because of its superstitious connotations. The term "Code Five" is often substituted (a visual use of the Roman numeral V is the closest the series gets to citing the word "vampire"), as is the slang "leech".
The original UK version has been screened by the Sci-Fi Channel in the US. It was shown originally as a three-part miniseries (each part being two of the original episodes shown consecutively), and during some later airings all six episodes were shown in a marathon format.