Catacombs The Conventions
Destination Moonbase Alpha - 2021

Destination Moonbase Alpha
12 September 2021 starting 8am Los Angeles/11am New York/4pm London

A convention was originally planned for London in 2021, but a world-wide pandemic and lockdown changed plans. The London convention was postponed until 2024, with an 8-hour virtual convention through Facebook held in September 2021 and lasting for 8 hours.

Further events are planned (see facebook for latest details):

Certain scheduled guests were unavailable or could not connect, indicated below with this cross-out

16:00 Virtual Con opens with hosts Warren Friedrich, Robert Wood, and Suzanne Heimer-Peterson.
Robert Wood and guest David Hirsch discuss their upcoming book release, "To Everything That Might Have Been - The Lost Universe of SPACE: 1999".
16:15 Guest Christopher Penfold
Christopher's comments

I've been asked about the central difference between Star Trek and Space 1999 many times. I think Johnny Byrne put it best when he said that the difference was that, in Star Trek, the Enterprise was always under the control of its commander. In Space 1999 the moon was at the behest of whatever gravitational pull the universe had in store for it. The Enterprise was boldly going; the Alpha people were on the on the winds of fortune.

The sense that Humanity was some kind of virus that would infect innocent areas of the universe, that was a thing which wasn't necessarily there at the outset, but which came into the show as we progressed.

I think it was one of Gerry's strengths, Gerry and Sylvia's, that they were open to suggestions from some people like Martin and Barbara and other writers who were contributing to the show. There wasn't really from the outset, although there was a Bible, there wasn't really a template for how this show was going to be. I think that's one of the reasons why it's admired now for not being the kind of formulaic science fiction shows.

I really enjoyed working with Charlie Crichton. I learned a huge amount from him. Charles Crichton was for me, by some distance, the best director we had on the show. It was a privilege to work with him. He and I worked very closely. We worked very closely on the script before it got to the studio floor, and Charles was insistent that I also attended rushes every day. After rushes we could have a discussion about how characters were developing, how particular scenes were working, what needed to be introduced to improve things and so on. Charles's background was as a film editor.

It seemed to be routine for me to be working at Pinewood studios through the day, and then to go home. My own home was quite close by the house that Martin and Barbara lived in Little Venice. I drove to their house, and at the end of the day we would spend an hour or two working either on the script that was in production, or on one that was upcoming. The input that I had from both of them, Martin and Barbara, was terrific. Personally and professionally they very much took me under their wing, and I was very grateful for that.

16:30 Guest Nick Brimble - Ray Torens from Metamorph
Nick's comments

I think this was the first time I worked at Pinewood Studios, so it was quite impressive to me. I remember finding my way there in my little car with the A to Zed. That thing on my head, like an old lady's hair-dryer, getting a perm or something (the Psyche brain-drain cap)

16:45 Guest Carla Romanelli - Melita Kelly from Space Brain
17:00 Guest Gianni Garko - Tony Cellini from Dragon's Domain
Gianni's comments

It was a wonderful experience. Work on the set at Pinewood was very well organized. There was an attitude of great respect for the actors, which the community of actors reciprocated. I remember tat in a window of the studio restaurant that was reserved for the actors, many Oscar awards were exhibited among which I saw the one received by Lawrence Olivier for Hamlet (1948; he won 2 Oscars, Best Director and actor, while the film also won Best Picture by J. Arthur Rank, owner of Pinewood). I don't know if was authentic or a copy, it surprised me because I remember the Oscars of Italian actors and directors were not exhibited in Cinecitta (the largest studio in Rome)

In the course of filming, Martin Landau often told me before the take, don't worry, Gianni, take your time. This kindness put me perfectly at ease. Nick Tate, on his own initiative, recorded my lines with the correct pronunciation. There was no rehearsal for Space: 1999. The director asked the actors, seated around a large table; there was whisky and sandwiches and everything; the director asked everyone if they had problems with their lines. Some proposed changes, others made observations, which the director discussed, and finally for the greater part accepted. I, given my English, remained in silence, satisfied with my text.

17:15 Guest Orso Maria Guerrini - Luke Ferro from The Testament of Arkadia
17:30 Guests Mateo Latosa and Phillip Harbottle discuss publishing SPACE: 1999 books with Powys Media.
Year 2 Hardcover giveaway
17:45 Guest Sam Dastor - Dr. Ed Spencer
Sam's comments

The first one I did was Dorzak, and the director was Val Guest, who knew my work. He wanted me to play this part. It wasn't called Dr Ed Spencer. The first script I received it said Dr Ed Spandau. Somebody had to point out to Fred Freiberger that Spandau was a well-known Nazi concentration camp. He said he didn't know this and said "call him Spencer then". He had to approve my casting. He said "he's mighty thin for a doctor". Val Guest said "doctors can be fat or they can be thin". "Ok, sign him up for just this episode." I was never given a contract for the 3 episodes, he had to approve me episode by episode.

The thing that I most proudly remember is, I think it was on the immunity syndrome, I have this line about something about A to Zed. I said A to Zed. And Barbara Bain looked very shocked and said "zed, what's zed? It's A to zee". She looked at me suspiciously and said "are you Canadian or American?" I said no, I'm British actually. "You're kidding!". That was a wonderful backhanded compliment, because this was the third episode I'd done, and she'd been fooled into thinking that I was either American or Canadian by origin. She was very shocked that I said A to Zed.

They asked my agent, they said would you be interested, we're thinking of doing a third series, would you be interested. I said, yes of course and we never heard anything more. A few weeks later my agent rang them up and they said no we're not doing a third series. So what was the end of that.

18:00 Guest Jamie Anderson: Anderson Entertainment update.
18:15 Guest Carl Held - Jerry Travis from The Immunity Syndrome
Carl's comments

Marty Landau was an old friend, I worked with him on Outer Limits. Marty was just great, no ego, a terrific actor. Marty went out of his way to be nice to people. I'd never met Barbara before. She was a delight. I would see her back in Hollywood from time to time, she had the same hairdresser as my wife. She's just a sweetheart. My recollection is of the people. Nick Tate, I later saw in Hollywood, he was in a play in a little theatre on the strip. And another member of the cast, Alibe Parsons, turned out we had a mutual friend in America. The sets were great, the director was wonderful. Hard to believe it was 46 years ago! In 7 days I will be 90 years old.

I was living in England at the time. I got there in the summer of 68. My wife, Sarah Marshall, was born in England. Because Sarah was born there, I was allowed to work there. I wish we could go back to theatre. We had no theatre in Los Angeles at the time. We decided to go for 1 year. We got a little flat in Chelsea in London, and that 1 year turned into 12. I had a year with the RSC, that was 1976, with such illustrious people as Patrick Stewart, Zoe Wanamaker, Bob Hoskins. I worked on his American accent and he worked on my cockney.

18:30 Guest Martin Bower - SFX in the year 1999.
18:45 Guest Martin Willey - From the Catacombs
19:00 Guest Yasuko Nagazumi.
Yasuko's comments

Keith Wilson and I were neighbours. We lived in Adelaide Square in Windsor. I was always having lunch and dinner with Keith. Because of Keith's influence, I was always interested in interior decoration, so when I moved to L.A., my favourite thing to do was to decorate. Even when I was at the beginning of my career, a little part in a James Bond movie (You Only Live Twice), I wasn't particularly interested in Sean Connery or the other ladies, I was more interested in the set.

19:15 Guest Carolyn Seymour
19:30 Guest Julian Glover - Jarak from Alpha Child
Guest Isla Blair - Carla From Journey To Where and Female Alien from War Games.
Isla and Julian's comments

Isla: Even purple eyelashes I had on, I seem to remember. It was astonishing make-up. When Tony Valentine and I looked at each other, we got a little bit giggly. We were even banned from going to the restaurant at lunchtime. The makeup department were very keen that we kept the bald heads intact, and any sort of laughing or grimacing at all, it would crack a bit.

I was a bit self conscious about the make-up, but they were really encouraging and warm about it. When you come in as a guest to one of these amazing series, you're only on it for a short time, you feel not particularly significant or important. Both Barbara and Martin made you feel as if this was the most important episode, and that was such a lovely feeling, very warm and generous of them.

Julian: I had a rather good pair of legs then. I heard two of the girls talking to each other as I came in. One of them turned to the other as I came in and said "oh, it's not fair." I felt terribly flattered and got a great deal of confidence after that.

I did a thing in my episode which no-one has noticed, and was really hard to do. I didn't have extreme make-up of any kind, my appearance was weird because of my legs, but apart from that, I decided my thing would be that I never blinked. No-one has ever noticed it. It was really difficult keeping your eyes open the whole time.

19:45 Guests Nick Williams: Fanderson Update.
20:00 30 minute celebrity roundtable discussion
Guest stars Jack Klaff (Guard - Seed Of Destruction, Space Warp, Immunity Syndrome) and Brendan Price (Guard - Catacombs Of The Moon), Oliver Cotton (Spearman)
20:30 Chris Bentley - Discussing his new book Space: 1999 - The Vault
20:45 Guest Seretta Wilson - Clea from Dorzak
Seretta's comments

I found my diary, I found 1976. I've got here, I had a really bad day, I cut my knee, I had a really bad stomach - poor Lee Montague! I did not feel well, not on every day, but it seems it was on the Friday in November, 1976. [Montague] was quite fatherly really. It may be because I wasn't feeling to well, but he was quite gentle and fatherly.

The director of the episode was Val Guest. I didn't have a car at the time, and getting to Pinewood Studios early in the morning was nearly impossible. He would pick me up, there I'd be, at some tube station waving, and Val would pick me up very kindly and take me to work. How many directors would do that now days?

21:00 Guest Anton Phillips
Anton's comments

There was an explosion of fringe theatre in London, in pubs or screen corners. Everywhere you looked there was a little theatre company doing avant garde theatre. I was in a lunch-time play, in a pub with quite a reputation, the King's Head pub. I was in quite an obscure play, I've no idea what it was about, neither did anybody else. Michael Barnes, the casting director of Space: 1999, came along to see another actor, who was a friend of mine. At the end of the show he invited me to come to visit him at Pinewood Studios. I went to Pinewood, met Sylvia, and they asked me if I'd like to do one episode. There's a scene where I have to run up to one of these communications blocks and report about the damage. When the standby came before "action", I was in the wings, doing heavy breathing as if I'd been running a mile. Action, I rushed in, I reported, I was out of breath. I think he [director Katzin] liked that. They asked me to come back.

(Of Peter Cushing) He went went to see the rushes. The next day when I came in, he sought me out, he said he saw the rushes last night, and how much he liked them, to tell me well done, how pleased I should be with what I was doing. For someone of his reputation to seek out a young actor, it really touched me, he didn't have to do that.

Christopher Lee is a very aloof person. Peter Bowles, I had a closer relationship with. We had a scene together, the scene went well, he was a very nice bloke to work with.

I hadn't really got very much film or television experience, you arrive on set and there were those two (Landau and Bain) along with Barry Morse who I'd watching in the Fugitive years before that... it was really very impressive. You feel like a fan, I wanted to run up and ask for their autograph. It was just really nice working with them, because they were not star struck, they were just ordinary people who had a job to do, which they did very well and welcomed you. They didn't ever try to upstage anyone or impose their superiority in terms of fame or fortune on anyone else yet they allowed everybody to have their moments. It was a great pleasure working with them, with those three not just those two.

21:30 Guest Nick Tate
Nick's comments

The Italian actor that was coming to play the head of the flight crew, he was going to be the chief astronaut, flying the Eagle. He was a very good looking Italian actor, I cannot tell you his name because I don't believe I ever knew it [Giancarlo Prete] but I've seen footage of him. Martin didn't want him to play the role [Possibly, but the main reason was Prete was contracted to an Italian film]. In the beginning nobody knew why he didn't come. One week before the show was due to start, panic stations all around because this lead actor who was coming to play Alphonse Catani didn't show up.

They were auditioning lots of English actors for that role and then Lee Katzin, the director, came out, put his arm around my shoulder and said, "Nick, can you do an Italian accent?"
I said "I can do anything". So I started talking with me Italian accent, you know...
"No, no, a real Italian accent!" Anyway I went in, and I met Sylvia and Gerry and everybody. I did my Italian green grocers for them, and they were not impressed.
I was walking out the door and I said I've still got the role that I die in, yes? No, don't worry about that. Lee raced after me and grabbed me, said "can you do something else?" I should what? and he turned to them and said "look, this is moonbase alpha, they're from all over the world. He looks German, right? Blond hair, could be German?"
I said "but of course I do German, we will ask the questions..." My terrible German, I didn't get that either.
I'm walking out the door, and he said "Let him play it Australian"
Sylvia said "no no no, we've already got cockneys, and everybody gets mixed up the Australian accent and the cockney accent, almost identical"
I said "well, that's bullshit. The Australian accent's nothing like the English cockney accent".
She said "yes, it is darling, you don't understand"
I said "I sure do. Every English actor they send to Australia in the big movies to play an Australian is a cockney and it doesn't sound anything like an Australian. The cockney is deferential, he touches the forelock, opens the door for guvner, in those days they were always playing the little guy with the cloth cap on. An Australian is aggressive, he doesn't kowtow to no man, and he calls a spade a spade."
"That's a guy we want playing, not Alfonse Catani, Alan Carter!" And he made it up on the spot. They said "I don't know about that"
I went home, and the phone rang at 5 o'clock at night, and my agent Marina Martin said "you've got the role, what did you do?" That's how I got Alan Carter.

22:00 Guest Prentis Hancock.
22:30 Barbara Bain & Rosie Badgett
Barbara's comments

Note: the artist of the Cinnamon painting behind Barbara is Mary Lynn Blasutta.

Jenny Lobb asks "Do you remember how Richard Johnson was cast as Lee Russell and did you have input on the decision?"
No I had no input on that, as I recall. In fact all the actors that were cast were splendid. So I had no impact you know input on that. We had such a wonderful crew in London, wonderful stage actors available there. The marvellous pool of people like Maggie Leighton coming on and Richard Johnson. What's his name, he was magnificently scary, they put on the box so he would be even taller. Christopher Lee yes. Every person I met, that group of actors was just wonderful. I didn't have any input, they were doing that very well.

On being a role model: I was told in school by a grumpy high school math professor 'you shouldn't be in my class'. Girls don't do math. I was told by a librarian when I was very little, eager to read 'you can't read those books, those are boys' books' They were adventure books, I guess we weren't supposed to have any adventures. Dr Doolittle was considered a boys book. Fortunately somebody wrote me that first role on Mission, for a woman who could do that. It seemed to crack open the idea for a lot of other women at the time.

On working in London: When we first got there, I asked the camera what they were holding, a tight close-up? He said "your Charlies". It was from here to here (top of head to chest). I asked why. King Charles declared that every bosom in the land belonged to him. So it went into the language, "look at those Charlies".

23:30 Robert Wood, Warren Friedrich and special guests - in memoriam, wrap up, and London, 2022 details and discussion