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TV's SPACE ODYSSEY

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From the Australian magazine TV Week, August 2, 1975
Scanned by Paulo Jorge Morgado.

GERRY and Sylvia Anderson who created those space puppet shows like Thunderbirds, have now produced a show that uses real people and they've called it Space: 1999.

This series will be one that, Star Trek fans will immediately warm to, for the format sounds startlingly similar.

It takes an army of people living on a space station on the moon and throws them into bizarre adventures in far off galaxies.

Although the series, which stars the Mission: Impossible team of Martin Landau and his real-life wife Barbara Bain, began as a show about life on a moon base, it soon moved on.

Monstrous explosions, caused by the dumping of radioactive waste on the moon, blasts the planet and the moon zips off out of Earth's orbit.

From then on it takes on a real Star Trek appearance as the stranded Earthlings race on from planet to planet and through time barriers to a string of fantastic adventures.

This is the most ambitious science-fiction series ever attempted in Britain.

As well as the American stars, which also includes Barry Morse, the shows will have many top British actors and actresses as guest stars.

These include Richard Johnson, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Margaret Leighton, Roy Dotrice, Cyd Hayman, Ian McShane, Catherine Schell, Michael Culver and Jeremy Kemp.

Australian Nick Tate also pops up regularly.

In Moonbase Alpha 300 people keep the station running as they investigate the mysteries of space.

Script consultant Christopher Penfold admits that when the planning began the producers were very much in the position of the characters they had created.

"We had the basic premise of a colony stranded on the runaway moon, without any means of controlling its movements," he said.

"Obviously there was a limit to the dramas that could take place on the moon Itself and it was only as the writing of the series got under way that the full potential of the series presented Itself.

"As we tossed around Ideas we realised that there are more mysteries in outer space, which are completely beyond man's understanding and we decided to dramatise some of these.

In one of the episodes the writers use one of the space scientists latest discoveries, the "black hole", those invisible spots in space that have such a tremendous gravitational pull that It sucks everything into it, even light.

"This phenomenon is completely baffling even now, so we have used this great dramatic effect.

"The moonbase is sucked Into the void and the personnel find themselves In eternity and time has no meaning at all."

In other episodes the space castaways meet up with aliens from other planets, discover incredible new powers and even find themselves living in the present and the future simultaneously.

Martin Landau plays John Koenig, the Commander of Moonbase Alpha. He is an American Astrophysicist who has been a pilot and an astronaut in his time.

Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) supplies the romantic interest, which is kept simmering but never actually explodes.

She is the daughter of a West Coast physician and has followed in her father's footsteps but moved on to the challenges of space medicine.

Barry Morse plays Professor Bergman who is to some degree the father figure of the key personnel on the moon base. He is older than the others and was a young man when space exploration began.

These three play vital roles in the series, which could be the best science fiction show in many years.