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TV: S is for...

Space: 1999

The giant wheels-slowly-rotating-one-way-then-the-other computer starts acting up *again*GERRY ANDERSON thinks he can better STAR TREK and decides to arrange a nuclear explosion on the “dark side of the moon” thereby sending the titular satellite, its research station MOONBASE ALPHA and all 311 inhabitants into deepest space. Ongoing “mission” was to try and, well, stop. Except various Bacofoil alien encounters kept getting in the way and pissing off MARTIN “KOENIG” LANDAU and BARBARA “DR RUSSELL” BAIN. Plots included finding Voyager II (like in that Star Trek film), a big piece of fluff in space, and the old “duplicate Moonbase” ploy. Crew boasted a woman who could turn herself into a pot plant. Those green and white Eagles (with ace detatchable T-Bird 2-style pods) were neat enough though, with the Dinky toy versions rising in price to about £500 at exactly the time we threw ours out.



  1. Tony Verdeschi

    August 15, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    How many of those Eagles did they have? They had a very cavalier attitude to blowing them up, even destroying one in the titles of every episode.

    The one with Bernard Cribbins doing the voice of the killer computer made me feel weirdly sorry for the thing once it was blasted into oblivion at the end. Too much Jackanory influencing my emotions I suppose, couldn’t they have simply turned it off and turned it on again? Now I’m imagining 2001 A Space Odyssey with the Cribster doing the voice of HAL 9000.

    The scariest episode is supposed to be the spaceship’s graveyard one, but I didn’t remember that from when I was little, so my vote goes for the two-parter where Commander Koenig was the only one who could see that the new arrivals to the Moonbase were not the crew’s old friends, but actually one-eyed compost heaps.

    Sadly, if you watch the repeats on ITV4 now the whole series looks incredibly stupid, but what a great theme tune. Both of them.

  2. Tom Farrell

    August 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    It’s very fashionable to bash George Lucas these days but just remember what science fiction was like in the dark ages before those words ‘A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…’ first materialised on a cinema screen.
    After the character limitations of the head wobbling Tracy dynasty and having seen the limited appeal of putting a specky twat into a huge revolving metal globule thingy at the start every episode, Gerry Anderson became the Man who Fell to Earth in 1970. We thought he’d learnt his lesson with the rather plodding UFO (alot of purple-wigged woodeness on the acting front but without the pizzaz of Scarlet and the ‘Birds) but apparently not…
    Even in 1975, it was egging the pudding a wee bit to think that in just 24 years time, we’d have a self-sufficient city about the size of London on the dark side of the Moon, but that is the least of 1999’s sins. Very rarely does sci-fi let the sci get in the way of the fi, but Dear God….Nuclear waste (which has to be reprocessed in a very painstaking matter) creates an explosion big enough to rip the Moon out of Earth’s orbit (without turning both bodies into sterile cinders) and sends it into deep space faster than the speed of light (Einstein where are you?) where there is always enough sunlight to illuminate the Moon’s surface. On that premise, each week’s episode began with a severe looking Landau and Bain turning to camera, heralding a jazz funkabout with Eagle transporters hurtling to their doom, cyclops aliens wrestling with Koeing in an airlock and oh yeah, Peter Bowles in platform boots. One episode had the crew blasted back to medieval Scotland, another saw them meet ‘God’ (actually an alien con man). Support cast included Dr Victor Bergman, ‘G-Day matey’ pilot Alan Carter and the rather yummy Sandra Benes. A bunch of them were dropped without explanation when the 1977 season started. In their place came a woman named Maya who was the spawn of Brian Blessed and who could turn into falcons and leopards when the going got tough. It apparently ended with them still drifting across the galaxy.
    I remember the Dinky toy Eagle all too well. Some prick always brought it into school to wave under your nose. At least until Star Wars came along and the ‘arms race’ began with the kid down the street. He got the Darth Vader TIE fighter for his birthday, so you must top that with the AT-AT next Christmas. Once again, Thank you George…

  3. Stig Rutterblug

    August 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Sorry guys, but Space:1999 didn’t feature either “funny futurespeak” or “computers with giant reels rotating first one way then the other”.

    And you’d never have got £500 for your Eagle because, like everyone else, you’d thrown away the original packaging about five minutes after you’d been given it as a birthday or Christmas present.

  4. John McMenemy

    August 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    That graveyard episode, is that the one with the ‘some scenes will be unsuitable for children’ too scary monster thingy that ingested the astronauts and then spit ’em back out, all emeciated and, well…dead? If so that freaked me out and kept me awake for nights on end. Never shown on ITV4 though – keep looking for it in the listings. Probably for the best.

    Good point about the number of Eagles on Moonbase Alpha; I always wondered where they all came from as well. Hundreds of the blighters and the spare parts shop on Alpha must have been running triple-overtime shifts with fixing them back to space-worthy status. And yes, I had an Eagle transporter which is now lost into the mists of time. Best spaceship model ever created by Dinky.

  5. paulus

    May 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Thank Christ it was not only me… those freakin’ monsters scared the shite out of me. Dragging the (expendible) crew members in and then spitting them out all dead and burned or something! It freaked me out for decades. In fact I will probably start my recurring nightmareas about them again. Thanks TV-cream

    The upside was that Maya was hot… I could even forgive those scabby eyebrows or side-burns or whatever they were on her face. Maybe I can wedge her into my dream somewhere… between harmony angel and lady penelope. NIce.

    It’s moon-tastic

  6. johnnyboy

    May 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    But surely, Barbara Bain as well, she was really the business …..that accent too, so nice. Is she Canadian? it sounds like she is, otherwise, perhaps from upstate California (no Googling the answer for me, just pure guesswork).

  7. johnnyboy

    May 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Also, in that photo at the top with Koenig, look at the analog clock on the panel. May gran had that on her wall (probably still does). Has ‘Westclox’ written on the face – supplier to the US space program, now that I did not know.

  8. Borgduck

    February 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Yep, I threw mine out, think I’ll go find a cliff.

  9. Grant

    April 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    The ‘scary’ one was called Dragon’s Domain, I remember it from my childhood, prepared me for the film Alien later in life

  10. Egrorian

    April 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    ‘Titular’ satellite? The programme’s title is ‘Space 1999’.

  11. Scott McPhee

    December 8, 2018 at 4:45 am

    The forecasts made by this show did not eventuate, did they?

    Just like those old books that suggested in the early 21st century, people would work less, have far more leisure time, and have intelligent robots in their homes.

    • richardpd

      December 8, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      It sounds like the writers were of the same school of thought as those Usbourne science books in the 1970s that had some “half right” suggestions.

      The Dick Tracey style wrist phones with less computing power than a pay as you go 2001 Nokia come to mind, but a wall mounted 1cm thick TV was quite a good guess.

      The pictures still had people with 1970s haircuts & clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in S:1999.

  12. Sidney Balmoral James

    August 16, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Remembered for the Dragon’s Domain episode, with the alien that spat out people’s desiccated /charred remains (I saw that one Sunday lunchtime, early 80s, when I was about five or six and it was extremely upsetting) but on the whole, not remembered in the same’hide behind sofa’ way as Dr Who despite its violent and even shocking scenes: Brian Blessed transforming into a putrid corpse before Barbara Bain’s eyes must be one of the most gruesome shocks ever perpetrated in a family TV show. I’m still in love with Barbara Bain however.

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