Catacombs The Conventions

Danger Zone
Watford, UK April 15-17th 1995

This was the longest ever Fanderson convention, covering 3 full days of events over the Easter weekend plus an additional evening on Good Friday beforehand. Each day focused on a particular series: Thunderbirds on Saturday, UFO on Sunday, and Space:1999 on Monday (celebrating its 20th anniversary). The other focus throughout the convention was Space Precinct, currently finishing production at nearby Pinewood. The series is due to broadcast in Britain this autumn.

Eagle and original art

As always, the convention was extremely well run and the programme was full and varied. The only disappointment was the dealers room, which was small and contained little of interest (annuals, cards, jigsaws and some Italian hardcover books). The model room was exceptional, filled with props, models, costumes and photographs from Space Precinct, plus a selection of recreated models from the Gerry Anderson puppet series and Andrew Frampton's original models from Space 1999 (the second Eagle, an Infernal Machine laser tank, the travel tube bulkhead, a couple of Alpha buildings and Taybor's jump drive plan). Original Barry Gray music was also played (it is hoped to release the music, but there are lengthy negotiations with Barry's estate to complete). [These were completed in 1998, and the Supercar and Space 1999 CDs were released by Fanderson to their members in 1999] The convention package included a nice booklet reproducing the script to the 90 minute pilot The Void Ahead, illustrated with numerous black and white photos of the episode it became, Breakaway (the script was my own humble contribution to the events, although Chris Bentley had the unenviable job of typing it up).

As usual there were plenty of episode screenings. A few unusual items were screened including the original titles and credits to Space: 1999 Year One. These used a different font for all the captions-(preserved only in Rudi Gernreich's credit in Matter Of Life & Death). Many of the title scenes were different, and the end credits were shown over paintings of alien landscapes. A video quiz included clips of actors in other roles, including Martin Landau (you had to identify his parts in Mission Impossible, Gunsmoke, Sliver, Man From Uncle and Tucker). There was also a preview of the "Making Of 1999" documentary that Kindred are producing. This was due to be released at this convention, but has been delayed because of the number of interviews they have been able to get recently (Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, with Barry Morse booked for the end of April). Among the interview previews shown, Zienia Merton told a story about how she refused to work with a spider on the set of Matter Of Life and Death (as the planet started to turn against them), while Emma Porteous remembered how Willoughby Goddard was so big they couldn't find a single tape measure big enough to measure him. The documentary includes behind the scenes footage on the location shoot for Matter Of Balance, and the special effects stage for Seed Of Destruction and The Taybor. Apparently the completed documentary could be over 2 ½ hours long, and may have to be split into two parts because of the volume of material they have, but it may not be released until the autumn. [It was eventually released as the Space 1999 Documentary in August 1996]

There were fewer Space 1999 guests at the convention than anticipated, as Martin Bower was sick and Prentis Hancock busy. It looked as if it would be just Derek Wadsworth, but unexpectedly Keith Wilson arrived and was able to give a talk. Both Derek and Keith were fascinating guests, full of stories about the production. Derek told how he decided to clear out his loft, so he put all the old scores for Space:1999 into a skip outside his home. He then got a phone call from a record company, who were interested in his making a record of the Year Two music. He ran out to retrieve the music from the skip- to see a lorry driving it away. So he got in his car and drove after the lorry. It started to rain, and he got caught at traffic lights, losing the lorry. But he drove on, and found the rubbish dump where the lorry had just emptied the skip. He ran over the rubbish, starting to search for the scores as a mechanical grab scooped up the waste around him, the operator not seeing him in the pouring rain. He was able to save almost all the scores (although with various stains and smells added!)

Contents copyright Martin Willey