The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Gerry Anderson Interview

Time Screen 17 (spring 1991), p17-26 Extract from an interview by Chris Drake with additional material by Andrew Pixley

How far did Gerry get to filming the proposed second season of U.F.O.? "I was shooting the second season of The Protectors in Saltzberg and I got a telephone call to say that U.F.O. was leading the ratings in New York and Los Angeles and had been doing so for seventeen consecutive weeks, and they were considering renewing. When I got back to London they had decided to make a new series, so we were in a situation where we going to make another season of The Protectors which was very successful and we were also going to make another season of U.F.O.. We were going to do two series in parallel, which is a hell of an operation. Then halfway through the preparations on U.F.O., the ratings started to drop in the States, panic set in and they cancelled the show. And then Lew Grade simultaneously had a row with George Barry of Fabergé, who was funding The Protectors, so that fell through, and both series collapsed. I remember I went to see Lew and told him we had all these plans for the series, like the uniforms and this huge base on the moon which had been updated, and various vehicles. And I said we wouldn't have to go that far to make it into a new series. He said it was a great idea, so that became Space: 1999

In 1973 after production had completed on The Protectors, Gerry had devised a new marionette series called The Investigator which would reuse elements of the abortive The Secret Service. Using puppets and live action in a crime story featuring miniaturisation, a pilot episode was shot in Malta for Starkits Productions and NBC in America. Although merchandise for the show was released, the series progressed no further and soon plans were afoot to chronicle the space wanderings of Earth's own moon in Space: 1999, an ITC co-production with RAI of Italy.

Whose idea was it to have the moon leave Earth's orbit? "That idea came from Hew York as an instruction. There was a great belief at that time that audiences wanted to see aliens and monsters and alien environments and so on, and the New York office had a lot of power. I got a call from Abe Mandel 1, the head man at ITC New York, to say 'Gerry, Lew is asking me whether I'll support this new show that you're conjuring up and if I say 'no', it's not going to be on, And I will only give my support on one condition, and that is that you do something in that show that will make it impossible to do an earthbound story." And I came up with this idea of the dump blowing up and acting as a giant rocket motor, and I sent a telex back and they bought the show.

"Space: 1999 was hugely expensive. Not for what was on the screen, but it was just a lot of money. The American artists wanted to get a network sale which would mean huge receipts and a lot of money. I went to Hollywood and was told if I could get Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, that was the key to a US network. If I got them I got a network sale. So go get 'em! And I went to Hollywood specifically to sign them. I met them and fired their imagination and finally got them to agree and paid an absolute fortune for them. The result was we didn't get a network sale. So, another story of good advice not working out,"

After the first season of Space: 1999 completed shooting in early Summer 1975, Gerry and Sylvia separated to pursue their own lives and careers. At this point, with American sales high in his mind, Gerry felt that an American adviser on the show was needed. Thus Fred Freiberger, producer of Star Trek and The Wild, Wild West was brought to Pinewood before shooting on the second batch of episodes started in January 1976. During the unit break on Space: 1999 though, a semi-educational adventure was shot for NBC's Special Treat series in July 1975. Entitled The Day After Tomorrow, it eventually showed up on BBC1 in December 1976 as Into Infinity.

Who appointed Fred Freiberger to work on the show? "I brought him in. They asked that there should be an American head writer and I went to Hollywood to interview writer after writer after writer. One guy told me he wanted to come to Europe because he collected wine labels and thought it would be wonderful to spend a year in Europe collecting wine labels. Others I thought were good, but when I 'phoned the office if they hadn't done a named science-fiction show, I didn't want to know. Then Fred came along. He'd been on Star Trek, he was available, he wanted to come to Europe so he seemed to be a good choice. New York said "Is he available?" I said he is." They said "Why is he available? " I was so cheesed off at the time that I said "Look, if you want me to find you someone that's not available, just say the word and I'll 'phone you back tomorrow With a list."

"So Fred came over, and L was the one who appointed him as producer because I didn't want him to write stuff that we couldn't afford to film. He was a very nice man, and we had a very pleasant time working together "

Did any actors who were ask to appear as guest stars on the show refuse? "As far as I recall, everyone that was asked to appear did appear, I mean other than international stars who were tricky anyway, and we had enough common sense to know that some people wouldn't so we didn't ask. But providing people were available they would do it, as it was a fairly entertaining show to do at the time and we had very international casts

What did Gerry think of the American input to casting the programme ? "My overall opinion was that if the New York office had kept out of it we probably would have had a more interesting cast, and I think the first season would have caught on in its rerun and I think the show would still be running today. But I don't think the American input on the second season was particularly good. I didn't like it." With the death of science-fiction and Space: 1999 in particular in America over 1976/7, Gerry and Fred Freiberger formed a new company to produce two shows for the USA: the live-action Intergalactic Rescue: 4 of which thirteen half-hours were offered to NBC, and Starcruiser for CBS. All that came from these projects was some merchandise for the latter. Gerry's next production was Alien Attack, a thirty-second Supermarionation commercial for Jif in 1977.

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, a number of TV Movies and feature films for foreign release were cut together from episodes of ITC television series. One of these, Alien Attack, principally featured the 'Breakaway' and 'War Games' episodes of Space: 1999, but also had additional new material starring Patrick Allen, scripted by Dennis Spooner. Was Gerry involved in the filming of these new scenes? "It had nothing to do with me at all. It was made by ITC and those additional sequences were handled totally by them."