The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Barry Morse

Barry Morse on stage at Fanderson 82, October 1982.

Space 1999, I can't remember the precise years, but began somewhere around this time of year. I think it was November, early December. And the first batch of shows representing the first season amounted to - you probably know the exact number much better than I - 18 or 20 shows, I don't even know. In order to shoot them, our work took something over a year. It was in the region of a year and a quarter to shoot the whole series.

Now, during that time, and as I say, I was there from the word go, and so were Martin and Barbara and most of the other characters who you know so well, Zienia, Nicky and Clifton and Prentis. During that time, I in particular, and to a lesser extent many of my colleagues, were far from happy with the quality of the scripts. Now this is not in an sense a betrayal, if you want to think of it in those terms, because I expressed all of these feelings at the time to all of our producers, and in particular to Gerry himself.

The reason that I felt this way, those of you who know the show perhaps may be interested in this, was that I felt that altogether too much attention was being paid, too much time, too much money, too much expertise, on what you might call "the hardware." And too little on what you could equally call the software. In other words, a great deal of time and attention was paid to the design of the uniforms, for example. Which I happened to think were ludicrously bad. Are you shocked? I hope you are. Wake you up. Why, I hear you cry, why does the silly old idiot say that? They were designed by Rudi Gernreich, famous designer. Rubbish. I wish Rudi Gernreich no harm. I'm sure that he's an admirable chap, I've never met him, I'm sure he's kind of animals, writes regularly to his mother, and is in every other way virtuous.

But he works from his point of view and for his reasons. And the very fact they thought of going to someone like Rudi Gernreich to design the uniforms was a symptom, in my view, a mark in my view, of how limited and without real imagination their planning was. Because Rudi Gernreich was at that time, and may be still for all I know, an eminent, you might think notorious, fashion designer, who's only interest, who's only viewpoint, was how to get into Vogue or Women's Weekly, or how to sell his clothes this time next year. Therefore his mind, like everyone else's, is that wide.

Now what they should have done, what I urged and begged them to do, was to start a competition among five, six, seven and eight year olds, in schools throughout the world if need be. To encourage children to design clothes which they visualise their children might be wearing when they went into outer space. Now there you get ideas, because you have fresh minds. A child isn't concerned about Vogue, or what's fashionable. A child is concerned with freedom. My own granddaughters, I know very well, their minds are so free, they are so untrammelled, that they can see and visualise and feel things way beyond what we can. Because we're inevitably trapped, and imprisoned and straight-jacketed, by what somebody did last week or last year, or what somebody said or somebody might think. Children don't give a damn about that. That's the kind of way in which you get originality.

Now that seems to me to be a symptom of the thinking that went into the construction of the series, which was carried through into the quality of the writing, to go into another department, where, sure, special effects, marvellous, wonderful special effects. But there is a limit, I tend to think, to the degree of dramatic tension which can be extracted from explosions. One bang after all is pretty much like another. But one human being is not. And if we could have developed an individuality of character and out of that a sense of relationship and conflict and comradeship between the characters, then you will have had something that was dramatically of real value.

So, not to bore you with the chapter and verse, but just to give you an idea of what my thinking was, when we came to the end of the first series, my contract left an option on both sides. In other words, it was open to the producers to ask me to do another batch, and to me to choose whether or not I should do them. And they were kind enough to ask me to do another batch. And I was unkind enough to say... It's very kind of you, but if it's all the same to you, I'd rather go play with the grown-ups for a while. Now that may seem to be a rather snooty remark, I'm sure that Gerry and Sylvia accepted it in the spirit in which it was meant. The effect was that after a year and a quarter we didn't seem to have made much headway in putting what I would call flesh on the bones of our characters.

We hadn't succeeded, in my view, in creating the sort of quality of dramatic material, which the concept of the series deserved. It was my feeling, and these are just my opinions of course, that we had the possibility of creating not only the best science fiction series that there had ever been, but potentially if we examine everything that was potent in the format, we have the possibility of creating the greatest, or one of the greatest, dramatic series of any kind that there had ever been. I felt that we haven't achieved that, so I thought it might be just as well if I pressed on and turned in a few other directions.

I blush to tell you, but I will tell you, that I've not seen more than one or two, and perhaps not all of them, of the episodes of the series that I was in, or the subsequent ones. But I'm told they never really explained to what happened to poor old Victor Bergman. I always imagined that he must have fallen of the back of the Moon. Whether or not I was missed, I don't know, and frankly I don't give a damn either.