The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Clifton Jones

Comments from the SpaceCon convention, Columbus, Ohio, July 1978

Clifton Jones at SpaceCon I, 1978

Commander! Commander Koenig.. .Commander! I think you'd better have a look at the monitor... Yes, I know exactly that you're in bed.. .but I think you'd better I don't know how to say this, but there have a look at the monitor... What for? Well, there are a hell of a lot of people just sitting, looking, and they look like people from Earth... you know.. .and they've all got these little badges on that say Space: 1999.

What do you mean, talk to them... Well, I don't know them! ...Nell, what do I say to them? Talk to them about what? Space: 1999?... 0h, that!

Space: 1999.. .what I call an intelligent, professional, technical, well put together piece of space fantasy about relationships between people, and imaginative concepts about what could be and what could happen in space. I was very fortunate to take part in the program. Now it's such a long time ago, so I'm sure most of you know a lot more about it than I do.

Whether you know it or not, Space: 1999 has been shown to 120 countries throughout the world. It's been shown to France, Germany, where it's called Moonbase Alpha; Kenya and Jamaica, where it's called Space: 1999. I don't know what it's called in Chile because I haven't been there, The series is on its second run in England at the moment... oh, I'm sorry, its third run at the moment. And you get nothing like this sort of affection in England. It's very strange. It goes on about 11:30 on Saturday morning and it just isn't quite as popular as I'm told it is in America and Japan. Nevertheless, quite often a lot of people made requests that it should be shown again and again and again. People aren't responsive for some reason or the other, or reluctant to put it on again, but I'm sure with the enthusiasm that's coming from America, and especially from the comments, they might reconsider, they might do that series. I hope so, because I enjoyed it very much.

Most of you know I was not in the second series. I don't know anything about the second series! I have seen the second series. I'll talk to you about the first lot and about the people in it. I'd just like to tell you little things and bits about the people who were in it. You might have wondered what has happened to them and where they are and what's going on.

Zienia Merton, she played Sandra Benes. She's working for the BBC television and she's been making two television programs. When I was leaving she said 'please read it to them, and she said 'Oh, no! I couldn't do that; I couldn't do that! Just give them all my love and I very much Wish I was there!

Suzanne Roquette is very heavily pregnant and is about to give us a little space-being about September this year. She also sends her love. It seems the whole of the Alpha Moonbase people are very fertile because Dr. Mathias' wife has just produced a second child. It must have something to do with the moon dust or something.

>Now there's one other thing. You were all here last night when Martin came in. Well, Martin, who I haven't seen for nearly five years, has been one of the most professional actors I've ever had the pleasure of working with. The thing about working with him is that it literally takes eight in the morning until eight in the evening with one break to film. Throughout all that, it took fifteen months to make. He was constantly working, constantly on call. He was almost in every shot, non-stop and not one second did I ever hear him complain or say 'I can't do this'. Constantly, one of the most professional actors I've ever had the pleasure of working with in my life. I just had to say that. Of course, you've all met the ol' mate Nick, who is one of the funniest men I've ever known in the whole show. He's also very hard working and a very good friend of mine. Ne travelled over here together from England. We had a very good time coming over. I don't know if there's anything you'd like to say to me because I'm not really very good at making speeches. I'd just like to leave it up to you for the moment so I can collect my thoughts and I might think of a few other things I'd like to say to you. So if there's anything that you'd like to ask me about the show or about some part I might have been involved in, I'd love to hear it from you.

Q: Concerning Kano's character expansion and the dialogue lines he had to say.

One of the things you must realize is that the show is fifty minutes. We have seven or eight people including main characters. You need to spread the load. There are faults sometimes in the show; there really isn't that much room for everybody. So what you end up with is sometimes, some people get a good episode or three good episodes, and that has a lot to do with it. You have to have your main characters, Commander Koenig and the others, carry most of the show because that's basically who's driving the show on. Lesser characters don't have as much to do. Also, there's the problem of thinking up stories for the supporting actors all the way through the show.

Q: What are your 'roots'?

I don't really know! Other than to say that originally I was born in Jamaica. I went to England as a child and grew up there in London. It's a lovely place. I stayed there a couple of years then went into the air force. I went to Transylvania as a child and appeared in a play called Billy Budd. Believe it or not, at the tender age of 17, I played the character that was played on Broadway by Lee Marvin. [The 1956 play was called The Good Sailor, directed by Frith Banbury at the Lyric, Hammersmith before a European tour in 1957; it was known as Billy Budd for the Broadway run. Clifton played Payne. Philip Bond was Billy, Leo McKern was Claggart, Bernard Breslaw was Jenkins, Sean Connery was O'Daniel] You can imagine how awful I must have been. I'm sure I was. Then I left stage and went to the Royal Institute. Another play down in the West End of London called A Taste Of Honey. It was done on Broadway. Beyond that, my parents were born in Jamaica and that's where I was born. I haven't traced my roots back to the country; I wouldn't know where to start.

Q: Was your parents' reaction when you went into acting?

A blessing. My father's dead; he died in 59. As far as my mother's concerned, it's about time I got a job!

Q: You were in all of the first season episodes except Breakaway. The man in your place, why was he replaced?

T don't know. came on the second episode. I was just called in to replace him.

Q: Sometimes you would have a line to say like: "Commander, that's simply impossible'. To me, you didn't seem too happy about saying them because they were kind of stock things to say. Was there any of fighting saying 'I don't want to say this'?

Oh, no!! Quite honestly, it's one of the happiest shows I've ever, ever worked on. There was never any rank between any of the actors as far as I know. As you see, we all get Barry, Martin and everybody very much. It's extraordinary to work that closely with that many people for fifteen months and to still be friends after it.

But.. it's not my fault, it's not even the producers' fault, but writing 24 television scripts, they sometimes get into little ruts. They think, well, what are we going to say. He has to say something here and they can't think of anything. They're not always brilliant, they sometimes get stuck to say something. Of course, if I do come up with anything better, then I say it. It's just because it's vague and hard in a television series to always come up with clever lines.

Q: In one Space episode, you were playing Backgammon with Paul. Do you play Backgammon in real life?

Somebody's been spilling the beans! Yes, I play Backgammon, but I don't play chess. In Black Sun, you might have remembered that I played chess. I was a bit angry about that because the director, Lee Katzin, who is very nice, wanted us to play chess and I didn't know how to play. I didn't know what I was doing.

Q: Would you like to be in a third year of Space: 1999?

I don't know; I have to think about it. Quite honestly, I don't really like being in a television show for very long periods. I get restless. I'd like to do short periods. I'd like to work on the program again, but I wouldn't want to be in it all the time. If it was One for six months, I might do it again. I would love to do it. Maybe for six months or so. I like working With a whole big mob, but for longer than that, I think fifteen months is too long.

Q: Of the guests who appeared in the show, can you tell us something about the ones you've met?

One thing you must realize is that the show is made in England and a lot of the guests were English. Over the years, I've been working in the theatres and I'd met quite a lot of them. One man who always wanted to meet was Christopher Lee, who played an alien. I was amazed. He's probably as tall as Dave Prowse and charming and he's now moved to America. I also liked Joan Collins very much. Leo McKern, oddly enough, was in the first production I ever did, Billy Budd. I didn't meet Peter Cushing; I wasn't there when his scenes were shot.

Q: Were you the one to make the decision on what kind of guy you would be with the computer? Like Paul Morrow would be very non-emotional, very strict, and you would be very sensitive. Did you that decision or did the director, writer...?

Well, it's very difficult to have a machine in your head and not be sensitive too. I suppose I'm basically a very emotional person anyway. I think that, partly, the idea of it was not mine so much but the creative idea of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and partly my own doing because I figure that with all those circumstances going, that head thing and the computer, it would have been impossible. Also, a bit more different than anybody else.