The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
John Goldsmith

Space: 1999 really got me back into writing for television. At the time, I had dropped out. I was living in the country and I couldn't think of anything to write. My basic problem was that I had peaked too early and I hadn't actually lived so I had little to write about, I went away and lived a little and then I came back to London with nothing but a car, so I flogged the car and bought a banger and lived on the difference.

Gerry Anderson had given me my start in life by hiring me to work on The Protectors and I heard that he was starting a new series of Space: 1999. Initially I was told that the series was already fully commissioned but I was invited to submit a story outline which they bought, so I did the script for Seed Of Destruction. I sent the first draft in and went to see Freddie Freiberger and we spent about an hour going over it. He wanted a complete rewrite from page one to page sixty, but I understood what he wanted and it was much better.

When you commission 24 episodes of a series it becomes like a machine. It's relentless and it's a very tight schedule with a very tight budget and inevitably the scripts get rewritten. Nobody has time to call the writer so there's a script editor to do it. Script editors tend to be good at their jobs. They're not in the business of making it worse, they're there to make it better. There was one thing that they put into my script, which was the trick of everything being reversed, a mirror image. The replica Koenig's hair is parted on the other side and his badge is reversed. I hadn't thought of that and it was an improvement.

What it really boils down to is pace. Whoever worked on Gerry's shows - which were pioneering in that they were aimed at an American market - had to write an American piece. You couldn't have scenes lasting twelve pages with a chap sitting around philosophising. it goes down great in Hampstead but they fall asleep in Idaho. I think Gerry Anderson is one of the great producers and he's very innovative. For various reasons he faded out for a few years and then came back, but all those early things he did are now huge again. Why? Because they're so good.