The Catacombs These Episodes
Space Brain

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

Space Brain

Christopher Penfold

One of the things that fascinated me, still does really, is the idea of the very big and very small. And the idea that within something as small as an atom there are multitudinous smaller particles. And that particles actually gets smaller and smaller as the search goes on for the smallest particle.

Looking up at the night sky, it's not too much of an elaborate imaginative leap to think of the stars themselves as the individual particle in a much greater macro particle which is the universe itself.

There's something which I picked up from the scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan where he had suggested that at some point in human development what we would discover about space is not that we would find an alien life form, but that it was more than likely that there would be a huge multiplicity of life forms. And given the interest that that anthropologists have in the development of the human race since the Big Bang on Earth, it also seemed highly probable that amongst the multiplicity of other life forms in space there would be quite a few that were quite considerably more advanced than humans. The manifestation that they might have would be something which was completely un-human like.

The particular piece of space territory into which the Alphans had drifted contained particles which were actually cells within a brain. And huge though it meant that this brain must be, and they were unable initially to recognise what was actually happening to them. The idea was that this whole Moon was actually making its way into the body of a biological organism which was a brain. And the space brain then responded in the same way as our own bodies do, in wrapping up the antibody and chucking it out.

All the time through the development of the first series I was talking to Keith Wilson and Brian Johnson. Often they would be telling me of effects that they could produce. And then I would develop a story which would make use of it. And I've got a feeling that the space brain may have been something which was kicked off by either Brian or Keith telling me about what we could do with foam, unstoppable foam.

Zienia Merton

Then foam came via two pumps at the back of the large screen. And they were pumped into the two entrances. They made an incredible noise. They were deafening. So obviously Charlie said "action" and the foam came in and I think it was meant to go up to our chests. I had disappeared from shot, but I was still looking on. Well it went beyond the chest. didn't it. The whole place, Main Mission was a huge set, and it kept getting higher and higher. And we heard Charlie shout "cut". But the guys operating the pumps didn't hear it. Another "cut". Still the foam was now... they were about to be engulfed. And the next thing I see Charlie coming down one of the entrances, arms waving madly, he's in his ordinary clothes, he's not suited up in anything, arms waving madly, shouting at the top of his voice. "Stop the foam! Stop the foam! Stop the effing foam!" And then he slips, and he falls into the foam. And the others are trying to find him and pull him up.

From my perspective, what was quite funny was that we had to suit up again, this huge production which cost thousands and thousands of pounds. There weren't enough survival packs for all eight characters to be shot in one go. So Prentis and I had to share one survival pack. But it meant we couldn't be same shot. And it was very skilfully dealt with. Because both of us couldn't be in the same shot, the commander says:

Koenig: "Sandra! Work up there on panel four! Go ahead!"

Zienia Merton

So off I pop over there, take off the old thingy and then Prentis dons it and he can come into shot. We made it up as we went along, folks.

Contents copyright Martin Willey