The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Terrance Dicks

I wrote a very weird episode for Space: 1999 and the whole experience was very strange. Basically, I heard from my agent that they were making the show in England and were going to take a certain number of scripts from English writers. I went down to Pinewood where they were making it and had a very peculiar meeting with Fred Freiberger who was the American producer and terribly high-powered. He said, "We're in the middle of discussing our storyline aren't we?" and I said, "No." Then he said, "But you've read all our material and seen the other films," and I said, "No."

He told me briefly about the show and said that if I had any ideas to give him a call. Well, I went away thinking that it was never going to work but after a while I got a nagging feeling that I really should give it a go. I worked out an idea that was basically about a combination of science-fiction and the supernatural. The Moonbase and, in particular, the Martin Landau character were haunted. I phoned up Fred Freiberger and this voice at the other end said, "OK, shoot." I told him the story and after a long silence he said, "We have a deal. I'll call your agent, it and he put the phone down.

A contract came through, I wrote the script, sent it off and after a while the money came through but I never heard anything more. I never got any feedback or an invitation to the shooting - nothing, not a word! The whole thing faded from my memory until an American Doctor Who fan told me he'd seen The Lambda Factor, my Space: 1999 episode. I didn't even know it had been made! I did eventually see it when it got relegated to 10 o'clock one morning on ITV. There had only been minimal tinkering, but it was basically the show as I wrote it. I had one meeting and one phone call and that was it!

Infinity #23 November 2019 p28

"My agent, Harvey Unna, phoned me up and told me that he'd heard that there was going to be a new series of Space: 1999, and that the producers had come to an agreement with the English Writer's Guild which meant that they had to employ a certain number of English writers on the show. He asked me if I wanted him to put my name forward for the show, and so I said OK. Then Harvey said, 'I must warn you, I think you're wasting your time, because they've not bought a script yet from a single English writer. I think they're just going through the motions because they're legally obliged to.'

"So I got an appointment to go and see the producer of Space: 1999, whose name was Fred Freiberger. They used to call him the 'Serial Killer', because every time he got put on a show, it got cancelled [Unlikely that Frieberger had this nickname in 1976, as only his season of Star Trek had been cancelled. 1999 would later be cancelled, and Six Million Dollar Man. Other producer credits lasted longer: The Wild Wild West, Quincy, Cagney and Lacey]. I went down to see him, and eventually got through about three layers of secretaries, and was taken to his office.

"He said, 'OK, you're doing a story for us.' 'Am I?' I said, rather taken aback. 'Well you're working on one, aren't you?' And I said, 'I've just been sent in to meet you on the off-chance of writing one.'

"So we talked for a bit, and I said, 'Well, look, if I get an idea, I'll write you a brief storyline and send it in.' And he said, 'Jesus Christ! Don't do that! If you put pen to paper, I've got to pay you.' So I said, 'What do you want me to do?' And he said, 'If you get an idea, ring me up and tell it to me.'

"So eventually, I did get an idea, which was about Koenig being haunted by two people he'd had to abandon on a plague-ridden planet. They're driving Koenig crazy, because he can't get any sleep without them appearing and saying, 'You left us to die!' And so the idea was to do a ghost story set in a brightly-lit space setting for a change, and not in an old spooky castle. Quite a good idea, really. And so I phoned up Fred Freiberger, and I said, 'You probably don't remember me, but I came in a few weeks ago, and you said that if I had an idea for a story, to ring you up'. And he said, 'OK - shoot!'

"And so I then spieled the whole story down the telephone, there was a little pause, and then he said, 'OK, we have a deal,' and then he put the phone down. And that was that! They commissioned the script, for which they paid handsomely, very large sums of money, and I wrote it, sent it in, and then - nothing. No discussions, no first draft, no second draft, nothing at all. And I thought that they must have hated it, and that they'd written it off. But they paid all the money.

"A few months later, a friend of mine came back from a trip to America and said, 'I saw your Space: 1999 show on American television - very good'. That was the first I knew about them making it! I got to see it sometime later, and it was pretty much as I'd written it."