The Catacombs These Episodes
Matter Of Life And Death

From the These Episodes documentary originally on the 2005 Network DVD boxset.

Matter of Life and Death

Johnny Byrne

The script, written by Art Wallace, was called "Siren Planet". When I arrived, it was dropped in my lap, it was a fully written out script.

It harked back to when the show had not really been put together, and now it was really referring to a show that didn't exist. It bore a superficial resemblance to Space: 1999, but it really wasn't of the thing that was organic and growing on the floor. The story concerned the extraordinary arrival of the husband of Doctor Helena Russell whom she had believed to be dead, but suddenly here he was on Moonbase Alpha.

He's in a desperately weak and feeble state, he's trying to warn them about the planet that they're approaching from which they getting very positive signs.

We had Helena dealing with a situation where this man she believed to be dead, but here he was in an apparent state of life, and nobody could explain it. It had sent her into an almost traumatised state of mind. One of the reasons why I chose this, it brought the character together, Commander Koenig and Doctor Helena Russell, for the first time, start to behave as some people who have more than a passing interest in each other.

Because the initial idea had come from Art Wallace, he was never present with me, I never met him in my life and I still have not met him. I felt that was only fair, since it had come from him, that we share credit on it. I extracted from it one or two elements. One was the anti matter. And I built the story up around that.

The Art Wallace script does not include anti-matter, just the return of Helena's husband (who is actually an illusion). Johnny Byrne added the anti-matter storyline.

Zienia Merton

On flipping through the pages I realised that we were gonna go down to the planet, Barbara, Martin, Prentis and I. At some point I was going to spot this bird eating spider, that had been used on James Bond Dr No, sitting on Prentis's shoulder. Heroic Sandra to the rescue, don't worry about it, I'll knock it off. I said no way, you won't find in the same room as a spider. I will be coming in to work because it's my one big phobia. So instead of that, I went blind.

Basically they felt that spiders were a Earth-type phobia, they wanted something more science fiction. So as I said I went blind.

Contents copyright Martin Willey