The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
TV Times

TV Times is a weekly TV listings magazine in the UK, and the "official" magazine for the ITV network. Due to copyright rules prior to 1991, it was the only place where weekly listings for ITV were printed (BBC listings were only available in the weekly Radio Times magazine; the two were the most popular magazines in Britain in the 1970s). In 1975 there was a local edition for each of the 15 ITV regional stations; the TV listings were local, but the cover and most feature articles were shared across all editions.

Devoted to a single network, you would expect most ITV programmes to have generous coverage. But Space: 1999 was shown at different times in different regions, so feature articles didn't make sense. See also ITV listings and Granada edition listings.

The following are two comment articles from 1975.

INSIDE TELEVISION by Alix Coleman

YOU NEED NERVES OF STEEL TO SPEND £3MILLION ON SPACE

Already hailed by the press as a surpassing feat of hardware, ATV's new £3 million, 24 part series Space: 1999, is due to smash across small screens later this year. But in spite of galactic wastes, a moon base colony of some 300 souls, vast scientific laboratories, and the Moon exploding from an excess of nuclear waste dumping by the Earth (a little lesson here?), producer Gerry Anderson insists he is totally unimpressed by the simple notion of special effects.

"Let us not be confused," suggested Anderson who, with his producer wife, Sylvia, was successfully responsible for Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90 and UFO. "Special effects are a very important element in a science fiction series, but they can't work properly if the stories aren't right" He says he has switched on his set before now to see Japanese sci-fi with 250ft.-high ants and, frankly, 250ft.-high ants from Japan without a story-line can be a terrible bore.

As to the cost, Anderson sees each episode - average cost £125,000- as not desperately expensive if the programmes earn what they should through world-wide distribution. Space: 1999 is a co-production with RAI (Italian State Television) and will be dubbed into Italian as well as French and German. Portugal and Hong Kong will have to make do with subtitles. Anderson feels pretty sure Space: 1999 will get its money back and make a good profit. "But during the production stage Sir Lew Grade has to have nerves of steel when you have £3 million on the line . . ." Anderson, a man who doesn't wince easily, looked thoughtful.

Certainly for Space, the past 14 months at Pinewood Studios have hardly been a rest cure. The unit turned out a show every 11 days with a special effects group working from one stage in parallel with another. Sets were continually torn down and rejigged. Anderson reckons they could probably have filled all 90 acres of Pinewood if they had kept every set they built. "But they have to be expendable. I was sad to see the Ice Age go."

It seems space shows for adults are, unlike police shows for adults, something of a fresh area. The BBC's Star Trek, well-scripted and believably performed, indicated the way. No more are fortunes spent on futuristic settings so that at the end someone says what about directors, actors, words? ... and someone else says there's no money left, but it'll look great on the screen. Anderson wants all to know Space: 1999 isn't just a lot of high-budget junketing among the nebulae: its strength lies in powerful human stories set against a space background which last been treated with brilliant special effects "These pictures," he pronounced, "are designed mainly to entertain, but you"ve got to have heart." Which just about wraps that up.

Working on Mission of the Darians, one of the last episodes in the series, Martin Landau in the lead part of Commander John Koenig looks suitably handsome and severe in beige and dark grey. His tunic and trousers both sported full-length zips down their left-hand sides, presumably to signify the unisex, if right-handed, approach of celebrated unisex designer Rudi Gernreich. Landau was a bit mystified by the trousers but cheerful with it.

Martin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain are already famous for their partnership in the incredibly long-running Mission: Impossible. Playing together again in Space: 1999, their publicity stills depict them as fairly perpetually fraught. In fact, Landau is a merry man. He avowed he had never seen such special effects since the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and says, after all, it took Stanley Kubrick 2000 years to make that one. "If we bring a little sunshine into your lives - I beg your pardon, moonshine," he said before joining Joan Collins on the set.

Gerry Anderson has declared Space: 1999 no basinful of sci-fi escapism but more a facing-up to some of the grimmer realities of today; a term that, happily, can hardly apply to Joan Collins. Radiant in vestigial ice-cream pink drapes and strappy gold sandals, she looked much prettier than Danny La Rue. Her silver-green' and mauve eye shadow aglow, she announced: "I'm Kara, Director of Reconstruction on this ship." It's nice to feel for all that high seriousness of intent and cash flow, Space: 1999 will be spooning out the same old friendly glop.

Alan Kennaugh talking...

The British Space Project America Couldn't Match

Alan Kennaugh talking...

This would have appeared in the 6th September-12 September edition for ATV/Yorkshire (which broadcast the show on Thursdays; not Anglia or LWT, which broadcast the show on Saturdays)

British Television's most spectacular series, a £2,500,000 epic called Space 1999, continues on Thursday. It started last week with the Moon being blown to pieces by an explosion of atomic waste. Moonbase Alpha and its inhabitants are thrown out of orbit into space, their adventures taking them through a 24-part series.

Sir Lew Grade, head of ATV, says his company's project is "the most spectacular, expensive and exciting space science fiction series ever made for television."

After a day on the set at Pinewood, I don't doubt his claims. If you were awed by the scope of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, you'll be stunned by this.

Martin Landau, a regular star of the series with his wife, Barbara Bain, says: "Hollywood never did anything on such a scale as this."

The programme was inspired by the idea that one day the Moon may be used as a base for investigation of deep space, and as the first outpost of this Earth's defences.

Producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who made their names with puppet spectaculars, work on the theory that the breakaway Moon is a rogue planet wandering through space; their theme is the inhabitants' hope of finding a new home.

Pinewood studios have been like gigantic adventure playgrounds during the past months, with the Andersons enjoying their work with real-life actors.

In addition to Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who were together in Mission Impossible, the series features former Fugitive-hunter Barry Morse and a host of heavily disguised guests. They include Anthony Valentine, Roy Dotrice, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Margaret Leighton, Richard Johnson, Joan Collins, Joanna Dunham and Brian Blessed.

Watch, too, for Catherine Schell as a wicked robot lady of space, and Catherine Mortimer, a leather-clad Woman's Libber and rocket ship commander.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sir Lew has already recovered much of the money spent on production. Space 1999 will earn £2,500,000 in America, and the series has been sold in many other countries.

Caption: Weird people, advanced machinery and complex sets combine to give Space 1999 its futuristic atmosphere. Evil has a beautiful face in the episode Guardian Of Piri, with Catherine Schell (above) as a wicked robot; idealism wears the bizarre features of Zantor, played by Christopher Lee (left), in Earthbound. The nerve centre of the space operations in Moonbase Alpha (below).


Space: 1999 copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment