The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Behind The Scenes Film


This interview with Brian Johnson was shot during the filming of The A B Chrysalis, around June 1976.

In 1999, Brian Johnson recorded a commentary for the DVD releases. This is edited extracts from the commentary.

So here we are at Bray Studios, with two small stages, alongside the one big stage that Bray had.

This external shot of the main house at Bray is not on the DVDs. The house, Down Place, dates from 1720, and is on the banks of the Thames near Maidenhead, Windsor (Google map). The estate was converted to studios by horror film company Hammer in the 1960s. The Space: 1999 stages were rooms in the original house (one is the former portrait gallery), as special effects shooting did not require sound-proofing. The large purpose-built stage, seen beyond, was not used by the Space: 1999 crew.

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That was Brian the modeller carrying the Swift from Brian The Brain. We set up the model department at Bray Studios alongside the stages.

This is Brian Eke, a studio carpenter and model maker. Most of the models, including the Swift, were actually made outside the studio, by Martin Bower or the company Space Models. The studio modellers modified and repaired these models, as well as creating the buildings and landscapes.

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The model shop. Here is the Emporium from The Taybor, and an 11 inch Eagle. On the sliding door is a drawing of Concorde.

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The Swift being worked on by Terry and Brian. We had to do 5 shots a day, and sometimes 6 to get through our workload. And they had to be completed shots because although we did a few opticals, the majority of the stuff had to be in-camera.

Terry Reed (whose name can be seen on a wall plaque, "T. Reed, Gunsmith") and Brian Eke working on the Swift and Mark Of Archanon ship. Both models were built by Martin Bower, but Terry and Brian added the fuel tanks to the Swift and nose section of the Archanon ship. At the time of filming, both these episodes should have been completed, so the models may only be for show.

In the background can be seen the second 44 inch Eagle (without pod), the booster pod (as seen in The Metamorph), and the spine of another 44 inch Eagle.

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Yours truly, with his remote control unit, talking to Terry Reed and discussing the moonbuggy. We'd had various problems with batteries, and not being very smooth on take off, so we'd changed the gearing. We were just experimenting.

The moonbuggy model was filmed in The Taybor.

The Taybor
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There's David Litchfield, camera operator, with a high speed Mitchell camera. We used high speed Mitchell camera 35mm because it was rock steady and we could multiply expose elements, because we did everything on original film.

Filming the Eagle landing on the chlorine planet in The AB Chrysalis.

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Brian delivers the Swift model, according to the commentary for the next shot. This is unlikely, as the episode Brian The Brain should have been completed a few weeks previously, and the chlorine planet surface would require significant redressing to serve as Planet D.

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This is a test of the freon gas exhausts, which contributed to global warming, unknowingly by us. There you can see shiny wires, which we had to get rid of. That was done by spraying with various chemicals the dull the wires down.

This is the third 44 inch Eagle model.

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Discussing the actual shot with David and Terry. We produced story-boards on a daily basis, covered in plastic so we could write all over the top of them. Here comes Nick, lighting cameraman.

Terry Pearce is the camera assistant. He previously worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nick Allder joins them.

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Terry Schubert attempting to get rid of the shine on the wires. Terry a very well liked and competent visual effects technician.

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Here's a four exposure multiple pass shot: one on the planet, one on the Eagle, one on the bigger planet, and the atmosphere and stars. As you can see, the Eagle gets double exposed. We never used the shot that long.

This is the shot in the episode (the colour appears less green).

The A B Chrysalis
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Here's a landing shot of the Eagle, with the carbon dioxide vapour produced by a dry ice machine. The freon gas disturbing that, the camera running at high speed. The wires are sort of visible, but not quite, so I think we got away with that. That's much longer than we would ever use in the show.

This is the shot in the episode.

The A B Chrysalis
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Lights, of course, very important. 10Ks. Here's Dickie, the spark. It was pretty hot in there when we were shooting, because we needed such a good depth of field. We needed depth of field so everything looked sharp and believable. Wonderful electrician, Dickie was, one of the best.

This is Dick Lewis.

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Lighting cameraman Nick Allder tests the light levels on the Eagle and freon jets.

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That's Dave Watkins on the dry ice machine. The painted cut-outs in the background, with a bit of green light on them, a bit of green spray.

Interesting view over the landscape, clearly showing the painted hills.

Here's David with his usual drink. He got heavily into carbon dioxide.

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Space: 1999 copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment