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Morse plans to quit Space 1999 series

Morse plans to quit Space 1999 series ... Few more episodes planned

The Phoenix, 27 July 1976

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. -Somewhere, someone is plotting the untimely demise of Prof. Victor Bergmann [sic].

But it's all pretty much a joke to Barry Morse, the English-born actor who originated the character of Prof. Bergmann on last season's successful Space 1999 television series.

Morse, a former artistic director of the Shaw Festival and back here this summer as both director and actor, said that even "extravagant sums of money" couldn't persuade him to continue making the popular science-fiction series.

"I told the producers I'd like to go and play with the grown-ups for a while.

"I did promise that l would do a few more episodes sometime just to explain whatever the writers consider ought to be the characters exit - dropping off the back of the moon perhaps."

Even a rusted aorta might be a possibility, the actor laughingly agreed.

The series, in which Morse received third-billing after husband-and-wife stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, is set on the moon. In the initial episode, an explosion of nuclear waste stored on the moon blasted the satellite and its colony of scientists and astronauts out of earth orbit. The moon and its inhabitants have been travelling ever since, although the series title refers only to the date of the start of the moon's Inter-galactic voyage.

Prof. Bergmann is the colony's chief scientist and his most distinguishing characteristic Is that he has a mechanical heart.

Morse said he had wanted to give the character "a little bit of originality, but the producers are so scared of that sort of thing."

The characters on the show are all so plastic and one-dimensional. There's something kind of Barbie Doll about the whole thing."

The 57-year-old Morse also has been a regular on three other TV series, including the now-classic The Fugitive. In that series Morse played detective Lt. Gerrard, who pursued the title character (David Janssen) throughout four very profitable seasons.

His other shows were the short-lived The Adventurer, with Gene Barry and The Zoo Gang with Brian Keith, John Mills and Lilli Palmer.

The latter, in which Morse was a Canadian Second World War veteran, was really only a mini-series and Morse Is hopeful that the cast may get together again to do a few more episodes. The series is based on the late Paul Galileo's novel about a present-day reunion of wartime comrades and their Involvement in perilous adventures.

What Morse recalls with particular satisfaction about his series work is that each offered him a role distinct from any other.

But the whole profession of acting seems less satisfying to Morse today than it did when, at age 15, he became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art In London.

In fact, he says, he is thinking seriously about giving It up, "In a few months perhaps."

"Forty-odd years is quite long enough to go around pulling faces for a living.

"I don't happen to think that our trade as a whole is all that desperately significant."

He feels he might have used his natural talents in ways that were more genuinely creative in human terms" had he made a career in politics or education.

But, he adds, he really has no regrets. "It's just that there are other things I feel I could do. And I may yet."

In particular, writing plays appeals to him.

"I'm very much encouraged by the realization that all the best plays are written by actors or by people of strong histrionic temperament."

At this year's Shaw Festival, he plays Sir George Crofts in Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession and has directed the season's production of James Barne's The Admirable Crichton.

But, apart from the obligatory character-eliminating episode or episodes of Space 1999, after the festival ends he has "no commitments at all"

"And it's marvellous. That's the best kind of luxury - when you're able to say, Don't call me, I'll call you.'"