The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Back in Time

Space: 1999 New Season
Back in Time with the TV Sci-Fi Interview: Jerry [sic] Anderson

TV Sci-Fi Monthly - No. 8, 1976
by Kate Logue
Article Source Provided by: Curt Duckworth

At last, the new Space: 1999 series is on the starting blocks and ready to go. And who better to tell us about what is in store than the creator himself, GERRY ANDERSON! TV SCI-FI's KATE LOGUE contributes this exclusive interview...

How do you see the new series developing?

The first point I'd like to make is that unlike a taped show- Upstairs, Downstairs for example- where a programme is made, very quickly transmitted, and the producer can get word-of-mouth reaction and press reaction, we have the problem whereby we make 24 shows before the thing goes out. So now, when we deal with the second series, we can take into account all the reactions world-wide to the previous series. The difference between the two series is basically as follows. First of all, we've had world-wide acclaim for the special effects element, so obviously we've retained that, and I think in fact improved it. We have a new interpretation of the roles of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. We've given them a full human dimension. We've now got on the show Catherine Schell- she was the female star of The Return of the Pink Panther (which, by the way, was the highest grossing comedy of all time!)- who plays the part of an alien called Maya. She's a resident alien, and she possesses the incredible power of molecular transformation, so she's able to transform into any living thing- an animal, an insect, or a plant! We've introduced a totally new human character, Tony Anholt, who used to be in The Protectors. Then we've also brought in Fred Freiberger, who produced the third series of Star Trek. Going back to the special effects, I would say that they're more dazzling than the first series. We've introduced new fashion costumes inasmuch as when people are off-duty, we'll see Catherine Schell and Barbara Bain in futuristic dresses. And we also have new music throughout. So there've been quite a few changes.

Are there any special effects sequences you would single out as being spectacular?

Yes! As a matter of fact, I've just come back from the theatre, having seen yesterday's shooting, and I've just watched an Eagle in an underground hangar on Moonbase Alpha. Here's this enormous hangar, with many Eagles lined up, the thing goes out of control, flies up and hits the roof, crashes down into another Eagle, then flies along the ground and turns over on its back! Quite honestly, looking at the screening just now, it looks fantastic. This is just one example [from the episode Space Warp] of the new-look special effects. In this particular series the special effects have found their way onto the studio floor. This involves us in a lot more work, and of course it's very risky, because a day's shooting costs around £6,000, and if you start monkeying around with the photography on the floor you've got to be very sure about what you're doing. If it doesn't work you've lost a day's shooting!

Where exactly is Moonbase Alpha going in the new series?

Obviously, even if you travel at the speed of light or near the speed of light it takes forever to travel a relatively short distance in terms of galactic travel, so in the new series we shall have been through several time-warps, and this has taken us to different parts of the Milky Way and also other galaxies. So we're now moving around quite a lot. Of course, the whole point about the show is that the trajectories are totally random and affected by the gravitational pull of stars. This is one of the crucial things- the crew aren't able to control the moon. In the case of time warps, of course, you can jump any distance.

Are there any particular episodes that stand out in your mind as working better than others?

Certainly. The first feature, called [The] Metamorph, is very spectacular. It deals with an encounter with the planet Cyclon [Psychon], which is where the moon base crew meet Maya. The entire planet disintegrates at the end of the show, and the only survivor is Maya, who goes back to Moonbase Alpha and stays with them. That's a spectacular show from all points of view- the human angle, special effects- and, of course, it deals with Maya's ability to transform into other life-forms. That show is certainly worth watching!

How are the characters on Alpha developing in their relationships to one another?

Very strongly. Martin [John] Koenig and Helena Russell have now very strongly shown their hand, they are very much in love. This is no longer hinted at, but shown very, very strongly. We've introduced an attitude that here are people now resigned to their fate, and their behaviour is a good deal more normal. For example, there's a considerable amount of humour in the new series- humour, I emphasize, as opposed to comedy. It doesn't detract from the action and adventure of the show.

Can you tell me something of Maya's ability to transform into other creatures- including monsters?

You use the term monsters. We prefer to call them space animals. These came about because Maya has the ability to transform- so, for example, if the story requires Maya to suddenly rush out on to the moon's surface and there isn't a space suit available then she will transform into an animal that can live in space without a space suit. Maya's transformations so far- there's a long list, but I'll give you a few: lion, panda, caterpillar, ladybird, space animal- give us a great deal of story potential. If somebody is caught in a room filled with a particular deadly gas, Maya will transform herself into a life form which can breathe this gas. It's an interesting concept, you see. For example, we have one episode with one guy in a sealed room [Alan Carter in The AB Chrysalis], with a gas in there which is suffocating him. Maya's outside, and she changes into an animal that normally breathes this gas. The second she transforms, she's gasping for breath because she can't breathe oxygen! So now she rushes into the room, and she's okay, as she's now in her own environment. She drags the guy in the room out, he now starts to recover, but she immediately collapses and has to transform back into her natural form before she dies!

So there's tension every time she transforms...whether she'll be able to get back in time?

She can only hold her form for one hour. For example, she can change herself into a bird on a planet where Tony wants her to fly high and do some reconnaissance work. Well, that's fine, so she flies around, comes back and says, "The aliens are over there," so that's very useful. Now Tony says, "Okay, go back and watch carefully." So she flies back, and is caught by the aliens, who put her in a small wire cage. Now there's trouble, because if she starts transforming back from a bird to a human, she's going to shred herself to pieces on the wire walls of the cage!

Talking of aliens, can we run through some that we're going to see in the new series?

Well, we have a visitation from a man called Taybor, who appears in a very gaudy-coloured spaceship which is capable of flying through hyperspace, and has what we call a "jump drive." He presents himself as a trader who travels around the galaxy. In fact, he has designs on Maya, who is a very beautiful lady, and the story deals with the attempted abduction of Maya. Then we have the appearance of a Christ-like figure who appears on Moonbase Alpha and announces himself as the Creator- God, as it were. We have to be very careful here! He arrives on Alpha, announces himself and talks about everyone as "his children," and they say, "Okay, if you're who you say you are, get us back to Earth," and he says, "That's unnecessary, I will create a new Earth for you." And, in fact, a new planet Earth appears in the sky! Well, as the story proceeds, we find that what he is in fact doing is experimenting genetically, and on the planet we find the result of previous genetic experiments by this man- and, of course, he has produced the most terrifying monstrosities!

Space: 1999 copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Thanks to Robert Ruiz