The Catacombs The Continuity Guide
Moonbase Procedures
by Martin Willey


Alan Carter

Moonbase Alpha uses a lot of paper forms. Operatives are frequently seen carrying papers, often on clipboards with stopwatches. Helena types her reports on a manual typewriter. Koenig uses a handwritten personal journal. The paperwork makes the Main Mission and Command Center sets look busy and active. After fights and explosions, the scattered papers in an otherwise spartan set underline the drama. Flying papers also help visualise explosive decompression to the vacuum of space.

The introduction of computers, or more specifically computer printers, would vastly increase the amount of paper in 1980s and 1990s offices. In the 21st century it would start to decline, often with not always practical management ideas of the "paperless office" (the term dates back to 1978). The Main Mission operatives seem to be checking the computers and desks and writing data on forms, which is perhaps the easiest task for computers to automate. On the other hand, checklists are best practice in aviation and healthcare, and many Main Mission operations could realistically use paper checklists.

The Alphans use paper print-outs from the computer, either cash register rolls in year 1 or IBM 80-column punch cards in year 2 (More on print-outs). Oddly, there are no waste paper (or recycling) bins.

The papers are often in red, yellow or occasionally blue acetate sleeves; the paper itself is seems to be normally white, although coloured blocks are sometimes added (possibly Letrafilm) to make them more interesting. Usually the Alphans are writing on the plastic sleeve, not the paper (or pretending to). This neatly solves the recycling problem for paper.

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There are a number of different clipboards in use. The most distinctive was the large red car racing timing boards, with three stopwatches, a release lever and clips for holding paper. The metal board (440 X 295 mm) and stopwatches were made by the Swiss company Heuer, and were the popular timers for car racing during the 1970s. The three stopwatches were used for measuring the lap times. It has a hand-hold cut-out in the side, and an angled top right corner. There are at least two. In most cases, the centre clock is missing, and by The Metamorph all three clock latches are empty.

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Matter of Life and Death Alpha Child

In The Metamorph, Annette Fraser has a white version, with the clock attachments covered by a white box, decorated with moonbase "buttons" and a commlock id face. Tony is using it in The Taybor.

The Metamorph Publicity The Metamorph The Taybor

In The Full Circle, Sandra has a yellow version.

The Full Circle The Full Circle

Another large clipboard, this time in blue, appears in the second series. At least in Seed of Destruction, it looks like it has one clock clip on the top left, but by Seance Spectre it has gone.

Seed Of Destruction The Seance Spectre The Seance Spectre

The most common clipboards are brown hardboard, although increasingly vinyl coloured clipboards are used, in red, grey or black.

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The Testament Of Arkadia

Bergman favours a red vinyl clipboard with a cover, containing several pieces of paper.

Medical Authority Case Report

This is the only headed paper used on Moonbase Alpha, with the blue title in the Data 70 font designed in 1970 by Bob Newman.

Dragon's Domain

In Dragon's Domain, Helena types her "Case Report" for the "World Space Commission Medical Authority" (the typewriter is a Triumph-Adler Gabriele 2000).

Catacombs Of The Moon

In Catacombs Of The Moon Helena is still using the headed paper for her handwritten notes.

Space Warp

We see the same stationery stored in an airlock in Space Warp

Rank Xerox

Moonbase Alpha form

Most forms have "Moonbase Alpha" across the top in the Countdown font designed by Colin Brignall in 1965. Other Letraset details are added, included Letraset sheet code numbers, but most of the form is normal 1970s office paperwork. This form, used by Paul and Annette Fraser, is a Rank Xerox paper order. Because the original altered form was photocopied, the text is faint and a little blurry (digital photocopies have vastly improved the fidelity of re-photocopied forms since then).

Xerox introduced the first photocopier in 1959, with a desktop model introduced in 1963. Xerox had an effective monopoly of the technology, until a US anti-trust suit forced it to license its patents in 1975. Rank Xerox was the European company, a joint venture between the US company and Britain's Rank organisation (in the 1990s, Xerox finally bought the full rights to the company, and the name became Xerox). The branch name of this form is the Customer Supplies Sales Dept, North Orbital Road, Denham, Uxbridge, Middlesex. Apparently Moonbase Alpha has account number 300016, and is ordering 10 reams (2 boxes) of white A4 paper, and 10 reams (2 boxes) of 8 inch x 13 inch (Foolscap Folio), plus 2 bottles of toner.

The Metamorph Publicity Breakaway Matter of Life and Death Clipboard detail

Race Times, Pre-Flight Take Off Checks

Black Sun Black Sun

In Black Sun we have good close-ups of a couple of forms that Bergman is working on. The one he is writing on contains the text "Existing Lap Record 444/9", "by CASTELLI", "Fastest Practice Time 00001 - 180/RD", "by Harrisondumy". It seems to be a motoring race chart.

On the right, forms for "Pre-flight take-off checks". The middle-left of the form has a section "Engines" with the number 2451 twice. Below is the text "lbs 23 gallons".

Voyager's Return

In Voyager's Return, Queller uses the "Harrisondumy" form as the checklist for launching the Voyager spacecraft.

Publicity shot in Bergman's quarters, LQ12. The papers in front of him mention "Engines", "Petrol 1660, 23 Gallons", "Compartments".

Autopsy Report

Ring Around The Moon Ring Around The Moon Space Brain

In Ring Around The Moon, Koenig is knocked out when Helena is abducted. He wakes in Medical, with a chart by his bed. The paper is titled "Autopsy". It often appears in Main Mission, for some reason.

Breakaway Autopsy Report detail

An autopsy report on a Main Mission desk in Breakaway

Autopsy Report

The "Autopsy Report" upper section consists mostly of Letraset, and the Letraset copyright notice ("Letraset products are protected widely by patents..."). The lower section is the same Xerox order sheet as above, with the same order: 10 reams of white A4; 10 reams of 8 inch x 13 inch (although perhaps the paper colours are the colours of corpses on Alpha, white, blue, yellow, pink, salmon and green). It is hard to explain why an autopsy form would record any form of pulse, whatever a "pulse beta" is.

white AUTOPSY REPORT white
32. 8 / 928-ALB/B tras REMARKS
Prepared fro
telescopic d
{T) or Lun
Orbiter data

Eagle CP MK II

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Another form seen in Airlocks and Command Center, which seems to have an electrical diagram.

The Lambda Factor

Copyright Martin Willey