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A British TV Odyssey

A British TV Odyssey

British TV Odyssey

This was an agency news report by Bob Thomas that was syndicated to local newspapers in the USA and Canada in August 1975. The first appearance seems to be 12th August 1975 - it appeared in different papers throughout August, usually without the author credit and often edited.

Alternative headlines:

disrupt well ordered orbits

LOS ANGELES (AP) - With the new television season approaching its start, the three networks are nervously eyeing the sky for signs of an enemy moon station.

Actually the 311 travelers on Moonbase Alpha are benign, trying to save an earth endangered by misorbiting of the moon. But to the networks "Space: l999' represents a threat to their own well-ordered orbits.

Here's why. "Space: 1999" is the new series produced by England's I.T.C. and starring Barbara Bain, Martin Landau and Barry Morse.

The company's boss, Sir Lew Grade, sidestepped the networks to offer it to local stations. Some 128 channels, 90 per cent of them with network affiliations, will start offering the series in the next few weeks.

Many of the stations have knocked out network shows to offer "Space: 1999" in prime time. This could mean damaged ratings and possible extinction for new series, particularly those in the 8-9 "family hour."

Why did "Space: 1999" go to syndication instead of networks?

"It's a matter of economics," explained Landau, the intrepid Commander Koenig of Moonbase Alpha.

"Each show cost $275,000 - they would have been $400,000 if they had been made here. There was no way they could have been made for less money. Every set had to be built; because of the nature of the story, we couldn't shoot anything outside the studio.

"Sir Lew had guaranteed Barbara and me 24 episodes. No network will commit itself to more than 13 episodes, so he decided to sell the series to Individual stations for a year's run - 24 first runs and 24 reruns.

"He has made it work. "Space: 1999" is the first series that will be shown in 101 countries simultaneously."

The Landaus explained how they became Involved in the project. After their success In "Mission: Impossible" (three Emmies in a row for Barbara), they were offered a variety of spy projects, husband-and-wife detectives and-or Hepburn-Tracy vehicles. "After looking at the films we realized no one could top Hepburn and Tracy," said Barbara, chief medical officer on Moonbase Alpha.

In August 1973, the English producing team of Sylvia and Garry [sic] Anderson journeyed to Hollywood - to see the Landaus - they literally knocked on our door." The visitors outlined their proposal for a space series.

"It takes place 23 years from now," Miss Bain recounted, "and scientists from many nations are on the moon to provide a defense system against invaders.

"Nuclear wastes are deposited on the far side of the moon, and they explode and send the moon out of orbit."

Tidal waves and earthquakes strike the earth as the moon and its inhabitants veer into space. The rest of the adventure concerns the search of the moon travelers for a new home.

The Landaus were intrigued by the proposal and committed themselves to a year and a halt of production in England. This meant transplanting themselves and daughters Susan and Juliet, now 15 and 10, to a 200 year-old house in the Little Venice section of London.

"Each show was like a "2001: Space Odyssey," [sic] said Landau.

"In fact, the same technicians who worked on the movie did the effects for our show. There were two operations: the principal photography on the sets at Pinewood Studio and another special effects studio on the Thames 20 miles away.

"We were also fortunate to have the pick of the English theater as guest stars. Among them were Richard Johnson, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Margaret Leighton."

The filming of "Space: 1999" spanned Watergate ("We watched live reports on television at 4 a.m.") and the energy crisis.

"When English industry was on a three-day week, our company was permitted to use generators," said Miss Bain. "Our scientific equipment wouldn't work, but the actors did,"

Will "Space: 1999" continue into the unknown?

"Sir Lew will decide In November whether to make more films," said Landau. "We'll decide then, too."