The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Nick Tate

Comments from the Alphacon 2012 convention, Los Angeles, September 2012.

I absolutely adored Sylvia. Sylvia was my champion. When I originally started on the show I was playing a very small peripheral character that was going to die in the first episode. During the course of making the first episode, it took six weeks to make. The director was Lee Katzin. Prentis was talking about how Lee would shoot the hell out of the thing. He thought he was making a feature film. He just shot so much footage but fortunately thank God he did, because he shot a lot of footage of me. They were looking at all the dailies and they thought, hey, maybe we shouldn't kill this guy. Lee said to them I think you should let nick be Alphonse. They had another character called Alphonse Catani, which most people know about. He was an Italian astronaut who was supposed to be in the show but he didn't show up for some reason or another. Now the reason I got the role is because Sylvia liked me and talked with Lee about me. They brought me in and tested me specifically for that role. Sylvia was really the driving force behind all the casting in the show. And Gerry didn't like actors. One time he came into the room and was trying to say something to Sylvia. He was just so abrupt. I said, you alright Gerry? He went, I can't talk to you about it, I don't like actors. And he left and Sylvia said, have a scotch. And so she would sit me down and give me a nice little glass of scotch. She was a doll. And sadly they divorced later on and he married Freddie Freiberger. Well not really, but it seemed like it. It was just so sad that he would let the major artistic driving force behind his television series go. She really understood the heart of the show.

Barbara was a very strong force. Barbara was a very quiet person. Barbara's not demonstrative. She's very, very bright. I'm sure that when she went into their offices and sat with them, they towed the line and did what she wanted or at least listened to what she had to say. But she never demonstrated that out on the set, she was always immaculate and calm. I would sometimes see something in a scene that was happening, that if she didn't like it, she wouldn't say I don't want to do it like this, or raise any negatives. She'd just quietly go to the bathroom or something, she'd be gone for a little while. And then things would change. We played word games. We had a wonderful crossword game that we used to play, that I think I invented, but I don't know. Twenty five squares and you could play with one or two or three people; it was a bit hard to play with four or more. You give each other letters and you had to put a letter in one of the squares. You end up with words that you make, four letter words, three letter words and five letter words. Five letter words are worth 10 points, four letter words are worth 5 points, three letter words are worth 3 points and 2 letter words aren't worth anything. It is impossible to get 5 across and 5 down. One girl I know worked out how to do it by repeating the words, but for the life of me I can't tell you how she did it. Barbara was brilliant at this game, she nearly always won. If she didn't win she'd come a very close second. She's just a very smart person. Martin was also very bright.

Charlie loved a tipple, they had to give him a driver in the end because he was always pissed out of his brain. We socialised a lot in the beginning, Zienia, Prentis. We loved to drink in those days. You had to realise when you're doing a television series like that you had to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to drive from London down to Pinewood studios to be on the set at 7 o'clock. That meant showering, shaving, make up, wardrobe, the lot. You had to be bright eyed and bushy tailed because you started work at 7. In the British film industry, the whistle blows at 5:20, the lights go out and everybody walks off. If the director was saying I've only got another 30 seconds, nobody would stop. So the next morning you'd have to pick up right where you left off. You brain had to be in that scene, right with it. Sometimes that's difficult, particularly if you've been out the night before. We realised pretty soon you can't keep that kind of life up. I went from working in British theatre where I was making £15 or top whack maybe £17 a week to suddenly making £275 a week making a television series. Whereas Martin and Barbara and the ones who were in on American contracts, they we making mega bucks.