by Colin Cutler

Sadly this first colour season remains the least represented in the BBC’s film and videotape library, with only a single extant complete entry – The Last Lonely Man.

Alongside the extensive video material from The Little Black Bag, 16mm b/w film clips also exist from three other productions: Immortality Inc., Random Quest and three separate scenes from Liar! The majority of this material has now been carefully restored, including the application of Richard Russell’s Colour Recovery process, for the clips’ inclusion in the 2014 BFI DVD release.

Audio clips exist from each production from this season, alongside complete soundtracks for Beach Head, The Naked Sun (bar approximately 4 and a half minutes) and The Yellow Pill.

Cover of the BBC Enterprises sales brochure for series three.

A Radio Times shot from the Hunt sequence, showing Peter Copley and Tom Bowman.

Foreground - Blaine (Charles Tingwell) and Dr Cole (Robert Macleod)

Riley (Peter Swanick) and Marie Thorne (Dalia Penn).

A behind-the-scenes shot from Immortality, Inc. was used on the cover of the 1969 BBC Handbook


Peter Copley as Hull.TX. 7th January 1969

Four audio extracts and a single brief clip (b/w TR) exist from this production.

The play’s incidental music (including electronic treatments) and assorted effects tracks also survive in a private collection. Full details can be found below.

The rehearsal recordings that underpinned the 1970 feature film Let it Be (with the Beatles performing new material at Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969) also capture George Harrison and Ringo Starr discussing their viewing of Immortality Inc. the previous night with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. An abbreviated transcript can also be found below.

Story Context: In the year 2110, a group of technicians at the ‘Rex Industries’ corporation are busy orchestrating a ‘time transplant’ operation. Two of the corporation’s top scientists, Tom Clarke (Derek Benfield) and Marie Thorne (Dahlia Penn) are supervising this elaborate process, which involves deliberately engineering a car crash on New Years Day 1969. At the moment of impact, they hope to snatch the mind of it’s victim – a man named Mark Blaine - and transport it forward in time to implant in a new ‘host body’...

Summary of Audio Extracts

Extract 1: This first clip picks up the action at a point just a few minutes into Scene 1. Tom and Marie are intently watching a series of instruments in the “Time Transplant” room, which are tracking the movements of Blaine’s car along a motorway on News Year Eve in 1968. As the instruments focus in on the precise date and location, Tom instructs the assembled technicians to keep the delicate process stable. The action intercuts between film sequences of Blaine (at this point played by Peter Van Diesel) in his car and the studio sequences of the technicians at work. When Marie queries the darkness of the picture presented by the instrument’s monitors, Tom reminds her that they “are coming in at night”.

There is a short break in the clip here, with the action resuming at the point where Blaine is listening to the New Year celebrations (a crowd singing Old Langs Syne) on his car radio. As he switches the radio off, the action cuts to the flurry of activity at Rex Industries. Marie asks how long they will have to operate after the crash, and admits to feeling “almost sorry” for Blaine. Tom clinically replies that they’re not really killing him anyway, and keeps his eyes on the instruments as the two cars to be involved in the accident bear down on each other…

We cut to Blaine, who suddenly wrestles with the steering wheel as he sees the headlights of the oncoming car. Watching the proceedings, Tom’s voice rises excitedly, concerned that Blaine appears to have got the car under control again: “it’s not working – boost the laser!”

Seconds later however, there is a tremendous impact, and the screen on the technician’s instruments goes blank.

There is another short break in the clip at this point, as the hushed technicians are assembled around a panel of lights. The action resumes as the lights on the panel begin flashing one by one, indicating the success of the operation. The assembled crowd cheers loudly. Tom says in exultation: “We pulled him over!”

All attention now goes to a covered body emerging from a recess in one of the walls of the room. This is the body into which the mind of Blaine has been ‘transplanted’.

Duration: 1'40"

Extract 2: A section from Scene 2, in which Blaine (now played by Charles Tingwell) awakes to find himself in his new body, laying prone on a trolley in the transplant operation room. In attendance are Clarke and Dr Cole (Robert Macleod).
Cole is excitedly remarking on how everything is functioning perfectly. Clarke asks Blaine how he is feeling and whether he remembers the ‘accident’. Blaine is puzzled, but recalls how the steering wheel broke and penetrated his chest.
On Clarke’s prompt, Blaine looks down at his chest – feeling it first for a wound and then more intensely for recognition. “But it’s not mine” he exclaims. Clarke hands him a small mirror, explaining how only his body ‘died’ in the crash, and how a time transplant operation had been utilised to pull his mind over. “You’ll get used to the body,” he adds glibly.

Blaine simply stares at him, then begins laughing incredulously…

Duration: 1'00"

Extract 3: A sequence from Scene 3, in which Marie has introduced Blaine to a man called Reilly (Peter Swanwick), the elderly head of Rex Industries. Reilly is about to be ‘reincarnated’ into the younger body of a selected ‘Host’ (played by Donald Morley), and Marie suggests to Blaine that they watch the process.
The clip begins with the Radiophonic music treatments that accompany the ‘Reincarnation’ process. Dr Cole notes that although Reilly’s body and that of the Host have gone limp, there is as yet no sign of emerging animation in the latter. Marie explains to Blaine that Reilly’s mind is trying to take possession of the body, but clearly he “seems to be having a little trouble”.

The assembled technicians are beginning to panic; more adjustments to the apparatus are hurriedly made. Dr Cole orders the technicians to “lower the boost” and the strange electronic whining of the instruments slowly gives way to an audible heartbeat.

An oxygen mask is applied quickly to the face of the ‘host body’ and the sound of breathing becomes more pronounced and regular. When the mask is removed however, the assembled crowd is shocked to see that the face is deathly pale. Opening it’s eyes, the figure says slowly and menacingly: “My name…not Reilly”.
The technicians realise with horror that the body has gone ‘Reject’, meaning that another wandering spirit – a disembodied presence looking for a physical host - has entered the body before Reilly could complete the process. The Reject stands stiffly, it’s movements ill coordinated. Slowly, it looks around the ring of faces and pauses on Blaine. “I know you,” it says…

Duration: 2'10"

Extract 4: A sequence from Scene 10, towards the end of the play. The ‘Reject’ has tracked Blaine down to his South Seas hideaway, where he has been forced to flee because of the growing political in-fighting between Rex Industries and the Government. The Reject has at last discovered it’s original identity – James Robinson, the other man who was killed in the head-on car collision in 1969. Robinson’s mind had also been pulled over into the 22nd-Century, but unlike Blaine he had been forced to wander in limbo until the opportunity arose to inhabit Reilly’s host body. However, this temporary body is slowly dying…

The extract begins at the point where Blaine is reiterating that he does not know who the Reject is, despite the latter’s insistence that they’ve met before. The Reject, his voice now virtually a whisper, explains: “late one night…1969…motorway…. you in your car, me in mine…”

Marie is distressed by the Reject’s appearance - she had known all along about James having been tragically caught up in the time transplant process, but wanted to keep this knowledge hidden from Blaine. “I’m not ready for the Hereafter yet, I haven’t had a chance here on Earth…” says James pitiably.

Blaine realises there is something more to this and begins recollecting the crash. During this, one specific detail becomes clear - the fact that for a split second he had regained control of the car, but had still willed the crash to happen. Blaine acknowledges this death wish, which had prompted him to lust for the moment of impact: “I let the car plunge on and I took you with me…”, reflects Blaine.
The revelation engenders a complex moral dilemma for Blaine, and to Marie’s horror he acquiesces and decides to give up his new body for James to inhabit…

Duration: 2'00"

Extract 5: A brief extract from Scene 12, set inside a ‘Suicide Booth’ that Blaine and the Reject have entered to consolidate their pact. Both will ‘die’ here, but James will be resurrected in Blaine’s healthy body.

The extract picks up the action as Blaine and the Reject sit in adjacent chairs, listening to the voice of the Booth’s Clerk as she gives instructions: “Place both your hands on the lever in front of your chair. At the sound of the first chime pull your lever firmly towards you. Do not hesitate or release your grip until you hear the second chime”.

“Good bye” says Blaine. The first chime sounds and the levers are pulled; as the second chime is heard, they release their grip…

Duration: 40"

Surviving 16mm film material

This comprises a brief truncated shot of a sword being plunged into a man’s stomach, over which the sound of the victim’s groaning can be heard. This is almost certainly an excised shot from a lengthy film sequence in the middle of the play, involving Blaine and a group of fellow ‘Hunters’ tracking down the wealthy aristocrat Charles Hull (Peter Copley). Hull has bought the services of these ‘professional’ hunters in order to provide himself with a “glorious death”; their task is to pursue him across his woodland estate and kill him, although Hull aims to dispatch as many of them as possible (armed with a rapier) before he meets his own end.

The shot was discovered amongst the batch of excised BBC material held by the Australian Censorship board. Ironically, this was the same section of the play singled out by The Daily Telegraph critic as being a “particularly gruesome sequence” (b/w 16TR).

To date, the clip has not been professionally transferred and returned to the BBC’s archives.

Duration: 5" (approximate).

Surviving Music and Effects tracks

The following comprises a detailed breakdown of the surviving music cues and sound effects retained in the recording archive of Tristram Cary. The relevant details are as follows:

TAPE# 131

Score and Sketches - also exist (Score dated May 1968)

Total Music duration: 15’ 31” (instrumental and electronic treatments)

Instrumentation: Flute/Piccolo, Horn in F, Bass Guitar, Percussion, Electronic Treatments

Tristram’s accompanying notes include the following details:

“Musically, I used a small ensemble in which the low end consists of a bass guitar rather than a cello or bass, a versatile instrument with a very individual sound. In general the instrumental sections seem to be fairly friendly sounds, but certain sections were designed for electronic treatment and the results of these are more horrific [in the breakdown below, the electronic treatments consists of M.1A through to M.6 inclusive, and also the later M.16 cue]

The tape I have is in fact the studio tape cued up for transmission, so it contains many effects and snatches of dialogue that are not part of my collection. I haven’t discarded these tracks, but I’ve re-ordered the reel so that the tracks relevant to this archive come first”

The breakdown below re-orders these cues and miscellaneous sound effects into transmission order, using the existing camera script and the surviving audio clips as reference points (the action that each cue accompanied in outlined in the right-hand column). The durations are those described in Cary’s original notes, including his descriptive labels for the electronic treatments.

Cue# Scene description

M.1A An extended electronic treatment accompanying the opening shots of the play (over which the author and adaptor credits were superimposed) with Dr Clarke (Derek Benfield) and Marie Thorne (Dallia Penn) overseeing the operation to bring Blaine forward to the year 2020 in the ‘Time Transplant room’.

Duration: 2’ 39” (Electronics + Treated Music)

M.1B As Clarke gives a hurried instruction to ‘Cut the Lema Circuit!”

Duration: 10” (Sting)


As a console dial displays a decrease from 2020 down to the target year. The sound ends abruptly as Marie, noting that they are increasingly close to 1969, asks if they can “cut that whine”.

Duration: 22” (Rising Pitch)

GRAMS FX Track + crackling sound (as Clarke identifies a series of sudden noises as light waves “bending so violently they crackle”.

M.2 As the action intercuts between film sequences of Blaine’s car travelling at night down a motorway in 1969, and the assembled technicians focusing on these same images displayed on a console monitor.

Duration: 55” (High and Mysterious)

M2A Overlaid over the end of M2, as Clarke gives further instructions to ensure the time transfer is accurately focused on Blaine.

Duration: 31” (Falling Pitch)

M.3 As the transfer operation moves towards its climax, with Blaine’s car careering into another vehicle moving in the opposite direction on the motorway.

Duration: 29” (High, Falling)

M.4 As console lights begin to blink in rapid succession, indicating that the time transfer operation has been successfully completed.

Duration: 33” (Gong Like)

GRAMS A Tannoy announcement calling for Marie to go to the ‘Reincarnation’ Room’ to meet with Riley, the manager of Rex Industries.

M.5 As Riley’s Reincarnation process commences, cutting abruptly as his body jerks at the moment of ‘death’.

Duration: 15” (Speeding up)

M.6 As Dr Cole instructs the technicians ‘turn on the boost’, recognising that something has gone amiss with the process of reincarnating Reilly in the body of the Reject (Donald Morley).

Durations: 30” (Travelling Sound) + 21” (Slowing Down)

GRAMS FX track accompanying the lowering of the boost process, which segues into the sound of a heartbeat becoming increasingly steady.

M.7 As the Reject walks away from Blaine, after claiming to recognise him but unable to accurately pinpoint his identity (the shot closes on a BCU of Blaine as he turns to camera).

Duration: 18”

GRAMS Marie’s phone system ‘buzzing’ + a robotic voice repeatedly answering ‘Records’, as Marie attempts to contact the records department to ascertain the original owner of Blaine’s ‘new’ body.

M8 As Marie reminds Blaine that he has yet to understand what quarry he is meant to pursue as a ‘Hunter’ (this cue bridges the transition into the following film sequence).

Duration: 14”

M.9 – M.9G 8 music cues that accompany the action throughout the ‘Hunt’ sequence.

Durations: 23”, 15”, 1’00”, 33”, 23”, 25”, 12” and 35”

M.10 As the final climatic fight sequence concludes, with Blaine being complimented as a ‘Born Hunter’. Music bridges the transition into the following studio sequence (Scene 5) set in Marie’s apartment.

Duration: 12”

GRAMS Immediately following M.10 above, the sound of the apartment’s door buzzer as Blaine returns to see Marie.

M.11 As Scene 5 concludes, with Marie expressing concern for Blaine’s safety

Duration: 30”

GRAMS Marie’s phone system repeatedly ‘buzzing’, as she wakes Blaine in order to warn him that Rex Industries are setting a trap.

M.12 Short ‘sting’ cue as Blaine is confronted by one of his fellow Hunters, who has been assigned to kill him.

Duration: 6”

M.13 Another short sting, as the Reject appears in the nick of time to gun down Blaine’s assailant.

Duration: 9”

M.14 As Scene 7 concludes, with Blaine and the Reject leaving Marie’s apartment.

Duration: 6”

M.15 No cue listed in script

Duration: 14”

M.16 Additional electronic treatment, as Blaine’s mind is transported into Marie’s ‘host’ body, in order to be reconnected again when they reach their remote hideaway location in the ‘South Seas’

Duration: 26”

M.17 Overlaid on stock film footage of ‘South Sea Islands’

Duration: 21”

M.18 As the Reject appears in the doorway of their hideaway location, having tracked Blaine down.

Duration: 7”

M.19 As Scene 10 closes, with Blaine agreeing to give up his host body to the Reject, having now understood that he had caused his death back in the car crash in 1969.

Duration: 19”

M.20 As Blaine takes a last look at Marie, before following the Reject into the ‘Suicide Booth’.

Duration: 13”

M.21 Closing shot of the play, as the Reject (now installed in Blaine’s body) exits the Booth, proclaiming himself as ‘James Robinson’. He tells Marie that everything went ok and that ‘Mark got away’. Marie looks at him as he leaves, then turns to look back into the Booth.

Duration: 24”

The photographs to the [right/left] show Tristram’s recording studio during the era when the above cues were created. In correspondence, he recalled with some amusement that since open fields surrounded this studio, the “only living beings listening to my dreadful noises in the middle of the night were cows!” The photographs were included as part of an article entitled ‘Electronic Music: Background to a developing art by Tristram Cary’ which appeared in the Audio Annual 1971 (pp.42-49).

Transcript: George Harrison and Ringo Starr discussing Immortality Inc.

Between the 2nd -14th and 20th – 21st January 1969, The Beatles linked up with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg to film rehearsals of the band performing new material at Twickenham Film Studios (the footage forming the basis of their 1970 feature film Let it Be). The abbreviated transcript below relates to a section of audio captured from the sessions held on 8th January 1969, in which George Harrison (GH) and Ringo Starr (RS) discuss their viewing of Immortality Inc. the previous night with Michael Lindsay-Hogg (MLH):

RS: Did you watch the BBC 2 thing?

GH: Yeah, there was that science fiction thing, but then suddenly it turned into all that crap about medals and things. [1]

ML-H: Was the science fiction any good?

GH: It was amazing…. the fella who wrote it had a good imagination, but it contradicted itself somewhere, I don’t remember where though. Did you see any of it? [to Linsay-Hogg]

ML-H: Only the last five or ten minutes of it.

GH: It started very strange, where they had this fella on a trolley and they pushed him into some kind of cupboard or a fridge… [2]

RS: He was the body wasn’t he?

GH: He was just like a body they were going to use. And they were in the year twenty-one hundred and something, and they went back to January 1969 and focused in on the M1 on this car and made him crash. Then they’d somehow take his mind and transplant it into this new body. Rex Industries they were called [everyone laughing]. So he suddenly comes up and he’s in this other body, and they’re saying ‘we’ve brought you from 1969’. And then there’s this other fella who’s running the place, he wanted a younger body…

RS: He goes into the reincarnation machine…but it didn’t work on him did it? The 1969 guy he crashed into, well he died as well and his mind got caught up in the power source that was picking up the mind they wanted, so he took over…

GH: He said “a bit of fight, but I made it” [laughing]. And he was like a Reject…

RS: You know the really white fella? [3] Well, he was the Reject…he was the one who crashed originally.

ML-H: He died again didn’t he? Remember they put him in the chair at the end?

RS: The good guy owed him, because he crashed into him. Did you see where he went through that scene where he said he enjoyed the thought of it.

GH: Because he got his car under control at one point, so in a way he took blame on himself – he said it was his fault that he killed the other guy.

ML-H: When they went into the two chairs at the end…

GH: So the thing was that the Reject was only nineteen when he got killed…

RS: So he took the other body.

[GH and RS then briefly refer to the Hunt scene]

[1] George Harrison is referring here to Europa, the programme which followed Out of the Unknown at 9.55, According to the Radio Times listing for this evening’s schedule, this particular edition was called The Titled and the Untitled, and focused on European perceptions of the various knighthoods and medals bestowed on public figures.

[2] Referring here to the opening shot of the play, in which the body that will become host to the mind of Blaine is wheeled on a trolley into what the script describes as an ‘oven’.

[3] Starr is referring to the ‘death-white mask’ make-up for the Reject (Donald Morley), which characterises his appearance from the botched reincarnation scene until the closing moments of the play.





Dr Bogert (Gerald Sim) and Dr Calvert (Wendy Gifford)

The team in conference.

Lanning (Hamilton Dyce) ponders the situation.

Lanning: "If only we knew how it happened".


TX. 14th January 1969

Three clips (b/w film recording, sourced from Towards Tomorrow - 2001: An Earth Prophecy, TX 25.3.1969) exist from this production. For the BFI DVD release, a HD transfer and SD colour-recovered version were also created.

Two audio clips (approximately 4’05” of material) also exist.

Context: At the factory plant of ‘United Robots’, a new series of humanoid robots is fresh off the production line. To counter a series of scathing press articles on the perceived “robot menace”, company director Alfred Lanning (Hamilton Dyce) has invited skeptical journalist Milton Brooke (Robert James) to visit the plant to reassure him that his accusations are unfounded. To this end, he wishes to demonstrate the most recent robot off the production line – RB-34, otherwise known as ‘Herbie”. With Brooke arriving for the demonstration, Lanning sends production manager Milton Ashe (Paul Chapman) down to the factory floor to collect Herbie. Once activated however, Ashe discovers to his horror that RB-34 has the remarkable but unnerving capacity to read the minds of its human creators...

Summary of Audio Extracts

Extract 1: This first extract, covering parts of scenes 7 and 8, overlaps with the end of the second of the surviving video clips (see section below).

Having been activated, Herbie registers the anxiety in Ashe’s mind that others will also discover its telepathic ability and begin a general panic. “If you’re afraid of anyone else discovering me, why not lock me up?” suggests Herbie, indicating a cleaners cupboard on the factory floor. Ashe silently complies, and once Herbie is safely inside he locks the door and hurries back to join Lanning’s group.

A short break in the clip here, within which Herbie picks up one of the cleaner’s tacky romantic story magazines that it finds within the cupboard. The clip resumes with Herbie beginning to read aloud from the magazine: “I’ll never forget the day I told my husband I was in love with another man. For a while he stood silent, pale under his tan, staring at me. ‘You Elsie?’ he gasped. ‘You and Arthur?”

Elsewhere, Lanning is handing out glasses of Sherry to an increasingly nervous Brooke, who is feigning impatience at the delay to the demonstration. Also present are the other members of Lanning’s team - Robo-Psychologist Susan Calvin (Wendy Gifford) and mathematician Dr Bogert (Gerald Sim). Lanning tells Brooke that the robot should be arriving with Ashe at any moment, to which Brooke curtly states that he has other appointments to attend to.

A further short break in the clip at this point, omitting a few lines of dialogue, before picking up again with Brooke sarcastically suggesting that the delay is due to a “last minute hitch”. As Lanning confidently reply’s that this is impossible, a very flustered Ashe enters the room and bumbles an unconvincing explanation about a “last minute hitch”...

A longer section is missing after this piece of dialogue. The missing section covers the heated exchange between Lanning and Brooke, for the latter has detected a hasty ‘cover up’ at work and angrily leaves the room. The clip then picks up the action at the very end of the scene, where Ashe explains the reason for his cover-up by telling his colleagues of his remarkable discovery. Lanning decides they should all go and see Herbie for themselves: “You’d better come with me. All of you”.

Duration: 1'15"

Extract 2: A section covering the denouement of the play, including material from scenes 48 through to 51.

We pick up the action as Herbie is confronted by Robo-Psychologist Susan Calvin, who has discovered the logic underpinning the robot’s actions. She tells the assembled group (Lanning, Bogert, Ashe, Brooke and also a Government Inspector called Jamieson, played by Edwin Richfield) how the First Law of Robotics compels Herbie to tell people what they really want to hear, even if this means lying (since it cannot hurt a human in any manner, including hurting their feelings). Pursuing this line of logic, she then gives Herbie an ‘impossible’ order, instructing the robot that it must tell Lanning and the others what it knows of the technical error that resulted in the gift of telepathy.

However, obeying this order implies the possibility of a human being hurt, since the robot is aware that both Lanning and Dr Bogert have been fruitlessly trying to fathom the solution for themselves. Herbie knows that both men cannot stand the thought that a ‘mere robot’ holds a solution that their ‘superior’ human intellects find insoluble. As a result, Herbie suffers the robotic equivalent of a nervous breakdown, caught between its need to obey a human order, and the law that says it must not harm a human. Herbie begins repeating the order to itself, which quickly takes on a frenzied note: “I must, I mustn’t, I must, I mustn’t, I must, I mustn’t...” Turning suddenly, it crashes through the door...

This continues into the following (telecine) sequence, in which Herbie plunges haphazardly down a corridor, still repeating the impossible order to itself. The assembled group then hears a crashing sound, and quickly exits the room.
A short break in the clip at this point, as the group halts at the top of a stairwell from which Herbie has fallen, looking down disconsolately at what is now a wrecked heap of machinery. The clip resumes as Bogert says lamentably (over a telecine shot of Herbie’s wrecked remains): “now we’ll never know” [referring to the mystery of the origins of the robot’s telepathic ability].

Lanning turns to Brooke and asks him whether what he has just witnessed satisfies him regarding the robot’s inbuilt ‘safety factor’. A trembling Brooke admits he is satisfied and Lanning suggests they all return to his office for a drink.

Duration: 2'50"

Surviving film material

Three clips (with a total duration of 2’ 28”) were originally used in the BBC documentary series Towards Tomorrow, in an edition entitled 2001: An Earth Prophecy (TX. BBC 1, 25th March 1969). This still exists as a complete b/w film recording in the BBC archives. As the title indicates, this edition speculated on scientific and social advances thirty years into the future (ironically the Out of the Unknown adaptation of Liar! was also specified as being set at this date), and included extensive interview footage of Isaac Asimov.

Prior to the full extent of the clips emerging on the 2014 BFI release, fragments had re-surfaced within a number of documentary features. These included the 1997 Future Fantastic series (in an edition entitled I Robot), the 23/1/04 edition of Inventions that Changed the World, and a near complete outing of all three clips in the BBC-2 series Sunday Past Times (TX.11/9/05). The most curious re-use of these surviving segments however, was the inclusion of a brief shot within the title sequence of the 2000-2006 American sit-com Malcolm in the Middle (taken from the opening production line scene, in which the two halves of RB 1’s head are snapped together).

Given that the Towards Tomorrow footage presented a number of scenes out of order, the following summary presents a shot-by-shot breakdown of each clip as originally broadcast, using the shot list of the camera script as a reference point and noting any missing/truncated elements [highlighted in yellow].

Clip 1

A clip from the play’s opening scene, showing the robot factory’s production line commencing operation.

Clip 1:

A clip from the play’s opening scene, showing the robot factory’s production line commencing operation.

Shot 1

Long shot – wide angle of factory floor (camera begins to crab right)

Play title ‘Liar!’ superimposed – faded out.

Author title ‘By Isaac Asimov’ superimposed – faded out.

NB. Originally, this was originally followed by the superimposed dramatist credit ‘Dramatised by David Campton’, but this was presumably excised for the inclusion of the clip in Towards Tomorrow.

Shot 2

Workers manipulating robot arms. We see the principal characters of the play - Lanning, Susan Calvin, Ashe and Bogert - assembling to witness the activation of RB-1 in the background.

NB. This shot barely runs for two seconds in the surviving material, suggesting it was truncated from what was initially broadcast.

Shot 3

Close shot of RB-1’s ‘head’ – the two halves are snapped shut.

Shot 4

Long shot of Ian Ogilvy as “RB-1” lying inert on the test bench. At a nod from Dr Lanning, a switch is thrown and the robot is activated. As the robot rises, the camera goes into a close shot as the robot states “I am RB-1”

NB. Audio for this shot is muted under Asimov’s dialogue

Shot 5

Long shot of RB-1 sitting upright, with the assembled workers cheering and congratulating each other.

NB. Audio for this shot is muted under Asimov’s dialogue. The stock incidental music for this sequence (Aquaplane, by the Jazz Trio Paris) would have commenced at this point.

Shot 6

Cut to a newspaper headline proclaiming: ‘Robot Activated’

NB. Audio is muted under Asimov’s dialogue

Shot 7

(Mix to) Similar to shot 4 - with the camera going into a close shot of Ogilvy as RB-2 rising and stating “I am RB-2”

Shot 8

Cut to 2nd newspaper headline: ‘The Robot Menace’

Shot 9

(Mix to) Similar to shot 7, with Ogilvy as RB-15 rising into close-up and stating: ”I am RB-15”

Shot 10

Cut to 3rd newspaper headline: ‘Robots – What is the Government Doing?’

Duration: 45"

In the original play, this would have mixed to a further shot of Ogilvy rising as RB-30, before the scene concluded with a fourth and final newspaper headline (the camera zooming in this time) which stated: ‘Robots – Investigation Demanded Now!

Clip 2:

A sequence from Scene 7.

Shot 40

Long shot of Milton Ashe supervising the activation of RB-34 or ‘Herbie’ on the factory floor. As the robot stands, Ashe orders it to follow him. The camera tracks back as the two characters walk into close-up, then stays on the robot as it comes to an abrupt halt. Ashe returns impatiently and reiterates his order for the robot to follow him. The subsequent exchange establishes Herbie’s telepathic ability, ending on Herbie questioning Ashe whether he can also read thoughts.

Shot 41

 Close up of Ashe, emphasising his horrified expression.

Shot 42

Close up of Herbie, concerned that it is causing mental anguish to his human creator – “I can’t help reading thoughts Sir, I was made that way”

Shot 43

Resuming the close up of Ashe, as Herbie (reading Ashe’s mind) apologises that it can’t switch itself off.

Shot 44

Resuming the close-up of Herbie, who suggests that since Ashe doesn’t want anyone else to discover the robot’s abilities, it could be, locked up in a nearby cleaner’s cupboard. Camera zooms out to follow this action as Herbie walks into the cupboard and Ashe quickly locks the door.

NB. The audio for the end of this shot, as Herbie walks into the cupboard, is muted under Asimov’s dialogue.

Duration: 1'15"

The audio of the following shot (Shot 45 - as Herbie picks up one of the cleaner’s romantic fiction magazines in the cupboard and starts reading) and the beginning of the subsequent scene is captured as part of the surviving audio material (see note above).

Clip 3:

A sequence from scene 10, with Lanning, Calvin, Ashe and Bogert discussing the problem of Herbie’s telepathic ability in Lanning’s office.

Shot 86

This begins mid-way through a shot of Bogert and Calvin in argument, the latter stating that the group is not going to solve the problem of Herbie’s telepathic ability by attributing blame on each other for an apparent fault in production.

Shot 87

(Group shot) Lanning concurs with this, and rising from his seat, summarises the main issues: “We have produced a positronic brain of supposedly ordinary vintage that has the remarkable property of being able to tune in on thought waves”. Ashe asks: “Well, what’s wrong with that?”

Shot 88

(CU of Lanning) “Nothing”, he continues, since this fact marks “the most important advance in robotics for years”.

Ashe (OOV): “Well then?”

Lanning adds thoughtfully: “If only we knew how it happened”.

Duration: 28"

Originally, this would have resumed with Lanning returning to his seat (mirroring Shot 87) and the assembled group discussing how they might keep RB-34 a secret while they determine how the malfunction occurred.

Rehearsal shot with Commandant Decker (Ed Bishop).

The Humanoids in their village.


TX. 28th January 1969

A complete off-air soundtrack recording survives from this production.

The existence of this soundtrack now enables us to identify a small number of recorded scenes that were trimmed during the editing process. These concern the end of Scene 11, when Ensign Carr (Barry Warren) informs Commandant Decker (Edward Bishop) of the discovery of a village inhabited by ‘Humanoids”.

At approx. 32’ 57”, after Decker’s line “before their darkness falls”, the script indicates that the scene would have continued with Ensign Carr saluting and turning to leave. Decker then calls him back and asks, “Do you believe God is on our side Ensign?” Carr responds by saying that the thought had never occurred to him, since they have ‘robot control’. Decker pauses and reflects on this: “yes, we have robot control…”

This would have then cut to the telecine sequence in which the survey party visits the Humanoid’s village. The beginning of this sequence was also trimmed, with the assembled group (accompanied by unspecified music) making their way through the jungle set. They come to a stop as Carr indicates that the village is in the next clearing. After checking to see whether the heat is bothering anyone, Decker then gives the order to proceed. At this point, Carr asks whether they will attempt to make contact, to which Decker replies emphatically, “I shall make contact”.

The script indicates that the full telecine sequence would originally have run to approximately 2’ 40”. The surviving soundtrack indicates that approximately 30’ of filmed material was excised.

Radio Times billing photo - showing Clive Morton as Doctor Pugh and Milo O'Shea as Doctor Lafcado.

Milo O'Shea as Doctor Lafcado.

Fred (Murray Melvin)


TX. 4th February 1969

12 audio clips survive from this production.

Radio Times cover for "Something In The Cellar".Story Context: In the cellar of his rambling Victorian edifice of a home, Professor Monty Lafcado (Milo O’Shea) has been tirelessly building and perfecting a complex computer capable of translating any language, aided by his loyal assistant Fred (Murray Melvin). Unknown to Lafcado, the computer quickly begins to develop it’s own distinct personality – which is ultimately revealed to be that of Monty’s possessive mother, who had died several years earlier...

Extract 1: From Scene 2, in which Monty and Fred are first seen experimenting with various settings on the computer lash-up in the cellar. The computer’s ‘output’ speaker emits a curious string of words whilst shooting into the female register: “History, Goldfish, every rough potato…” and then disintegrates into a rapid cacophony of sounds. Fred throws a switch to turn the speaker off, saying laconically: “she’s flipped again”.

Monty ponders on this, wringing his hands: “Oh dear, it does that – and that curious frequency jump...”

Duration: 26"

Extract 2: From Scene 4, in which Monty is taking an afternoon nap in a ‘fleapit’ cinema that is screening a B-Grade horror movie. It is here that he meets a woman called Bettina (June Ellis), who strikes up a conversation with Monty as he wakes towards the climax of the film.

The extract begins at the point where Bettina is pointing out how the hero of the film is about to rescue a lady threatened by a “seaweed” monster (played by John Lawrence, in a mock sequence specially shot on 35mm film for the play). Monty asks how she knows the story so well, and Bettina admits to having sat through the same film at the “Majestic” the previous week. The film draws to a close and the finale music begins. Bettina begins to gather her bags and rise...

Duration: 27"

Extract 3: From Scene 8, in which the computer is systematically enunciating (in what the script describes as a grating “Dalek-like” voice ) a series of words beginning with the letter ‘b’: “bissextile, bisulcate, bisulphate...”

Fred turns to Monty (who is working out calculations on a blackboard) and says: “Hungry ol’ cow – she started on ‘er A’s yesterday and now she’s halfway through B”.
Monty is immersed in his calculations: “I think I’ve found a reason for those curious frequency jumps Fred”.

Duration: 25"

Extract 4: From Scene 10. In the evening, Monty is working alone in the cellar when Bettina, now employed as his housekeeper, comes in with something for him to eat. She asks about the various pieces of equipment and the strange enunciations of the machine.
Monty attempts to explain to her how the machine works. Feeling ill at ease, Bettina remarks that it sounds like the computer has “swallowed a dictionary”. Continuing to demonstrate, Monty switches the computer to ‘print-out’ only, silencing the unnerving mechanical voice.

Duration: 45"

Extract 5: From Scene 13, in which Fred inspects the computer’s “D-Circuit”, which he believes is the source of the various technical glitches. As the machine continues to coldly articulate a string of words, the electronic voice suddenly begins to rise in pitch and intensity. “You’re excited today you old cow”, says Fred, looking at the frenzied patterns displayed on the computer’s monitor screens. He looks narrowly at a complicated piece of circuitry and says to himself: “I bet it’s that D Circuit”...

Duration: 40"

Extract 6: From Scene 17. The computer has now reached a bank of words beginning with ‘S’ and while it quietly drones on in the background, Monty and Fred continue to make fine adjustments to the main console. As Monty speculates on a possible fault with the machine’s “modulator”, Fred indicates that the professor has just received two letters from his financial benefactors I.C.M.

Duration: 32"

Extract 7: From Scene 23, in which Fred attempts to tamper with the system’s D-Circuit. With the computer relentlessly ‘Daleking’ away to itself, Fred removes the panels containing the circuit and begins making adjustments. Suddenly the computer’s voice rises in pitch again and there is a sudden flash and spit of electrical arcing. Fred screams in agony – and as he pulls out his hands from the interior of the cabinet, he sees that the screwdriver he has been using has penetrated his wrist. He grabs this and pulls it out, doubling with pain and shock. The machine’s electronic screaming rises unchecked.
This cuts to a telecine shot of the exterior of Monty’s house. The script indicates this as follows: “A FULL SHOT of the house. FLAT ON. It screams exultantly”.

Duration: 1'05"

Extract 8: From Scene 27. With Fred in hospital, Monty works alone in the cellar. He has just replaced the D Circuit panel and is listening to some curious sentences (once again spoken in a distinct female register) emanating from the computer’s speaker. Monty checks the machine’s ‘Reading Element’ and realises that these sentences bear no relation to the text that has been inputted to the computer.

Duration: 45"

Extract 9: From Scene 37, in which Monty attempts to show ICM representative Harold Pugh (Clive Morton ) how the computer responds to certain key words relating to sexuality. Monty shouts these into a microphone on the console, then tears off the computer’s printed out response and shows it to Pugh. Bizarrely, the print out relates to mating patterns, jealousy and love...

Duration: 30"

Extract 10: From Scene 56 through to 60. Acting through the computer, Monty’s deceased mother cruelly deals with Bettina by discharging a huge burst of electrical energy through the house, killing her instantly when she touches a metal contact in the bathroom (this sequence would have shown Bettina backing away from the apparition of Monty’s dead mother in a wardrobe, then stumbling into the adjacent bathroom where she clutches at a tap to steady herself). Note: This wardrobe can be distinctly seen at the top of the landing in John Wood’s set design photograph [below]

Duration: 25"

Extract 11: From Scene 68 through to 69. Monty now realises that the personality of his dead mother inhabits the computer. His mother’s distorted voice can now be heard through the computer’s speakers: “Mother’s boy – dear old boy, didn’t you guess?…”

Monty attempts to switch the console off, but each time he reaches out there is a flash of electrical discharge. The voice calls out sternly: “Mustn’t touch...naughty…Mum will be angry...”

Monty then rushes to the main switches near the cellar stairs, but again there is a sudden electrical flash. As he turns and rushes up the stairs to the ground floor, he can hear: “And don’t run away. I want to talk to you. It’s your mother...”

Attempting to flee the computer’s influence, Monty exits the cellar and quickly ascends the stairs. The distorted, echoing voice of his mother can still be heard in the distance: “come back... come back... come back...”

Duration: 1'40"

Extract 12: From Scene 72. Coaxed back by the hypnotic sound of his mother’s voice, Monty returns to the cellar. The soothing voice intones: “dear old boy, mother’s boy, mum’s been lonesome on her own-some, mum wants to talk, nice and cosy on our own-some, just the two of us...”

At this point, concerned that he is suffering a nervous breakdown, Fred and Pugh return to the house and discover Monty lying in a foetal position in the middle of the computer apparatus. The monitors are displaying (in rapid succession) images of his mother’s face, with the echoing voice repeating: “just the two of us, for ever... and ever... and ever... and ever...” [this scene would have faded out into the closing credits].

Duration: 1'00"

Some set photo's, courtesy of designer John Wood...

The ramshackle computer set-up in Monty Lafcado's cellar. Donald Bull's script describes this as follows: "Against one of the walls is the heart and centre of the shebang, a control deck surmounted by an array of panels. Across the top runs a row of winking monitor lights like the multiple eyes of a monster. In evidence is a microphone, and a device like the mouth of a letter box behind which we are to imagine a reading element which can take up and scan printed material. Nearby, a print-out element, like an automatic typewriter".

The hallway, stairs and landing of Lafcado's 'peeling Victorian Gothic' residence. Note the wardrobe visible at the top of the stairs - this prop takes on particular significance in the scene where Monty's housekeeper Bettina meets an untimely end, when the door of the wardrobe creaks open to reveal the 'corpse' of Monty's deceased mother 'standing in cloche hat and full twenties rig, dead vampire eyes fixed on Bettina"

View from the top of the stairway looking down into the main hallway of Lafcado's house.

The main sitting room of Lafcado's house (looking through into the hallway).



Colin Trafford (Keith Barron)

Colin Trafford (Keith Barron) and Mrs Gale (Beryl Cooke)


TX. 11th February 1969

A single clip ( b/w T/R ) and two audio excerpts currently exist from this production.

Radio Times clipping - Keith Barron and Tracy Reed.Story Context: Scientist Colin Trafford (Keith Barron) attends a routine laboratory demonstration at British-Physical Industries. The demonstration goes wrong however, and the resulting explosion knocks him unconscious. He awakes and finds himself inexplicably sprawled at the bottom of a stairway in a fashionable Gentlemen's Club. Bewildered by his new surroundings and personal appearance, he eventually realises that he has been transported to a parallel world, where his ‘counterpart’ has been living a quite different life...

Summary of audio extracts

Extract 1: This first extract bridges the telecine sequence of the laboratory explosion (a blinding flash, with Colin staggering towards the camera and falling slowly out of frame) and the opening shot of Scene 2. This would have been an out of focus shot (i.e. from Colin’s point of view) of the club’s Hall Porter (Arnold Ridley) anxiously looking down on him and asking repeatedly: “You all right Sir?”

Colin awakes with a start and looks around in astonishment. The Hall Porter, oblivious to Colin’s confusion, continues with his polite fussing: “You must have tripped on the stairs, sir. No bones broken, I hope?”

Colin is unable to account for the sudden change of location, nor does he recognise the Porter either: “What am I doing here…. who are you?”

“Munnings, Sir”, the Porter replies genially, “You know me...”

Duration: 30"

Extract 2: A short section from Scene 8, in which Colin enters the luxurious flat of his parallel world counterpart, which he explores with intense curiosity. Having idly switched on a 1930’s type television set, the picture flickers into life and displays a news broadcast (read by MacDonald Hobley). The clip begins at the point where the newsreader is giving a summary of various ‘contemporary’ world events:

“...many eminent scientists throughout the world were concerned over the latest German experiments, and while there was little doubt that nuclear fission was still a theoretical possibility, the proposed methods of control were totally inadequate. The King’s State visit to Lichtenstein...”

Colin switches off the TV set and ruminates reflectively on the last item: ‘So the random neutron is still at large...” He shakes his head in wonder and goes on to explore the next room.

Duration: 21"

Surviving Clip:

The surviving clip derives from the end of Scene 20, as an argument between Colin and his parallel world wife Ottilie (Tracy Reed) has reached a peak at the end of a party held at their apartment. The clip begins on a close up of Colin as Ottilie flees the room in rage and frustration. He goes off in pursuit, repeatedly calling her name. This cuts to a film sequence (shot at Ealing) which shows Ottilie hurriedly descending a flight of stairs outside their apartment. Turning a corner, she suddenly slips and tumbles headlong down to the next landing (with stuntwoman Roberta Gibbs standing in for Tracy Reed). Trafford rushes to her aid….

Duration: 17"

The clip derives from an interview with Roberta Gibbs, which was featured in a 1970 edition of Nationwide (TX. 22/10/70). Although the interview segment is in colour, the clip from Random Quest is in b/w (presumably derived from a 16mm copy made for overseas sales). BBC archivist Andrew Martin located the clip in September 2005, following a lead from engineer James Insell. Approximately the first nine seconds of the clip has a ‘burnt-in’ on-screen caption ‘Out of the Unknown BBC 2’ (see screengrabs). Along with the surviving clips from Liar!, the clip was treated to the colour-recovery process for it’s inclusion in the Return to the Unknown documentary on the 2014 BFI DVD.

BBC publicity photo showing Dr Harsham (Noel Howlett) and Colin Trafford (Keith Barron)

Gladia (Trisha Noble) and Baley (Paul Maxwell).

The Solarian suspects assemble together for Baley's questioning.


TX. 18th February 1969

Radio Times billing.A near complete off-air audio recording survives from this production, missing only two sections that run to approximately 4 minutes and 40 seconds of material.

The first of these missing sections is the episode’s opening sequence, including Baley (Paul Maxwell) making his way to the U.S Department of Justice in Washington (shot on film) and the first part of his conversation with the Under-Secretary (studio recording). The surviving shot list indicates that the former sequence opened on a single tracking shot of Baley walking along the Department’s corridors, over which we hear his narration regarding “endless, hiving corridors, a city within a city” etc. As he approaches the camera and leaves the frame, the shot centres on a representation of the American Eagle Crest, before cutting to the studio material where Baley enters the Under-Secretary’s office (over which the opening section of John Philip Souza’s Stars and Stripes Forever was played). Excluding the title sequence, this runs to approximately 1 minute and 55 seconds of material.

The second missing section occurs midway through Baley’s group interview with the assembled murder suspects, with the audio cutting out as Baley begins to focus his questioning on the actions of Doctor Leebig (Frederick Jaeger). In the missing section, Leebig becomes increasingly desperate and evasive, and finally breaks viewing contact. Baley quickly exits the room to view Leebig on a separate monitor, where he threatens Leebig with personal presence if he fails to hand over his records for examination. The audio resumes as Leebig breaks down under this unbearable prospect, and starts acknowledging that robots may have been manipulated to cause harm to humans. In total, this missing section runs to approximately 2 minutes and 25 seconds of material.

The existence of the audio also enables the identification of a number of scenes that were recorded but removed during editing (presumably for timing reasons).

The first substantial edit was a film sequence (running approximately 1’32”) that would have followed Baley’s first encounter with Gladia (Trisha Noble). When Gladia abruptly breaks off the interview (“Done viewing!”), it was originally intended that the action would cut to Baley and his robot partner R. Daneel (David Collings) discussing Gladia’s actions as they walk through a wooded area outside their Solarian apartment. As they talk, Baley is overcome by his exposure to the sun and feels unable to breathe. Before he collapses completely, he orders Daneel to help him back inside. The surviving audio indicates that this entire scene was excised, with the action simply transitioning to Baley lying exhausted on his bed, recovering from the effect of his exposure to open spaces.

The second lengthy edit was a scene following Baley’s altercation with Deputy Head of Security Corwin Attlebish (Ronald Leigh-Hunt), which leaves him determined to start viewing his suspects “in the flesh”. After responding to Daneel’s warning over this decision (“How will you stop me – robot?”), there would have been a fade to Baley visiting the sociologist Quemot (John Robinson) at the entrance hall of a ‘Foetal Farm’. This was described in the script as an ‘Octagonal, windowless, orange room, with abstract statuary in niches’.

As Baley questions Quemot over his knowledge of the murder victim, they approach a group of children being supervised by an attending robot. Quemot notices than one of these children – a young boy called Bik – is aiming a bow and arrow directly at Baley. He calls out to alert the detective, who quickly throws himself to the ground as the boy unleashes the arrow. The arrow is found to have a poisoned tip, and it becomes clear that the attending robot had been programmed to hand this to the boy when Baley approached.

Notably the removal of this scene necessitated some cuts to the dialogue in the group interview noted above. For example, as the assembled Solarians express contempt for Baley’s idea that robots could be utllised as murder weapons, Baley was originally to have referred to the attempt on his life at the Foetal Farm. The surviving audio however, indicates that the action simply cuts to Leebig protesting: “in any case, how can anyone arrange to have a robot smash a man’s skull?”

Curiously, despite this edit, the character of Bik (played by a young John Hicks) is still credited as appearing in the Radio Times listing for the episode.

Baley (Paul Maxwell) in the communications room.

Radio Times billing.

 Al (Harvey Hall) attempts to track the loss of Medical Kit 674101

Dr Full (Emrys James) performing miracles with the aid of the Bag's instruments.

Angie (Geraldine Moffatt) monitors the proceedings pensively.

Angie (Geraldine Moffatt) demonstrates the Bag's 'foolproof' surgical knife on herself.

Mike (James Chase) and Al (Harvey Hall) watch the horror unfold at 'Bag Control'.


TX. 25th February 1969

Four audio extracts and a series of videotape fragments (comprising consecutive scenes which make up for approximately twenty-eight minutes of the play) currently exist from this production.

Story Context: A sophisticated Medical Kit is advertently transported from the far future back to the year 1969, where it falls into the grateful hands of the disbarred Dr Full (Emrys Jones) and a scheming woman named Angie Quiller (Geraldine Moffatt). The kit’s future creators Mike (James Chase) and colleague Al (Harvey Hall) at ‘Bag Control’ are unable to retrieve the bag from its new ‘timescale’, although they have the capacity to monitor the bag’s movements – including its ruthless exploitation by Dr Full and Angie in driving a highly successful ‘cosmetic surgery’ business…

Extract 1: A segment from Scene 3, set in the Medical Centre that forms the backdrop to the opening of the play. It is here that ‘supernormal’ Mike, ostensibly working as a lab assistant to the inept Dr Gillis (Robert Dean), constructs a portable time machine. The clip begins as Mike is describing the operation of the apparatus to a curious Gillis and his equally naive colleague Dr Hemingway (Denis Bowen).

“Touch that switch, turn the dial, it’ll go to wherever you want” concludes Mike casually. As Mike leaves, the two doctors decide they might as well try out the apparatus. Gillis places Hemingway’s Medical Bag inside the machine and then throws a switch. The machine hums into life and the bag duly disappears. At first stupefied, the doctors suddenly realise they have no idea how to reverse the process...

Duration: 50"

Extract 2: A segment from Scene 4, in which an anxious Hemingway goes to meet Al (at the Medical Centre’s ‘stores’) in order to obtain a replacement bag.

Hemingway is furious with Mike and his apparently useless time machine, stating that Mike is “not as bright as he makes out”. Struggling to explain the process, he tries to describe how the machine had apparently worked on a “one way only” basis. Listening to Hemingway’s story, Al queries whether Mike had explained “the recall mechanism”.
"I don’t think he included it in the design”, Hemingway replies, and then switches the subject back to his immediate predicament: “The point is, how am I going to manage without my bag?”

“How indeed”, Al says breezily, “Well, we’ll just have to get you another one”.

Duration: 30"

Extract 3: An extract covering most of Scene 5, set inside ‘Bag Control’. After giving Hemingway a replacement Medical Kit, Al retreats to a hidden control room to the rear of the stores. When Mike joins him, Al berates him for his reckless decision to build a time machine for Gillis. He reminds him that they should never do anything to alert their so-called superiors to their own advanced intelligence.

Mike is astounded that the doctors were foolish enough to put the medical bag in the time machine. Al then queries where the bag might have ended up, but Mike is at a loss to pinpoint its destination. While Al attempts to trace the kit, Mike asks whether they should ‘kill’ it, although both acknowledge that turning it off might produce a ‘social loss’.
Al then alerts their superiors, known simply as ‘Control’, to the loss of the bag. Control advise leaving the kit’s instruments switched on, although any “deviations from normal” are to be reported immediately. Mike breathes a sigh of relief at not being asked how the bag ended up on another timescale...

Duration: 1'00"

Extract 4: The final extract features material from scenes 24 – 26, which are missing from the recovered video sequence (approximately the final thirty seconds of the play). The following text outlines the script for these closing moments, immediately following the point at which the recovered video material finishes (i.e. after Mike’s line: “That’s no reason to let them discipline me for disobeying orders”). The sections surviving on audio are outlined in red:

Scene 23: Inside ‘Bag Control’

Al: “One murder, two murders. What’s the difference?"

Mike: "For you? That’s no reason to let them discipline me for disobeying orders. How do I destroy the damn thing?"

Al: “Try the kill button”

[Close-up of the ‘kill’ button on the instrument desktop]

Scene 24. Inside Full’s Surgery

Mrs Coleman: “Let me see you do that with your neck”

Angie: “All rightee!”

[Angie inserts the ‘surgical knife’ into her neck (utilising the same sound effect used in an earlier scene in which she demonstrates the knife on her forearm)]

Scene 25: Inside ‘Bag Control’

[Mike’s finger pressing button in Close-up]

The bleeping of the alarm at Bag Control suddenly ceases as Mike hits the “kill’ button.

Scene 26. Inside Full’s Surgery

[Angie’s face - contorting in sudden pain and surprise – falls from frame. Cut to Mrs Coleman giving a gasp of ‘pure horror’]

Mrs Coleman screams!

[After the close-up of Mrs Coleman, the script indicates that there was to be a final shot of the Medical Bag in a ‘corroded’ state and possibly a close-up of Angie’s body on the floor of the surgery]

Duration: 10"

Some of these fragments were used to augment the final seconds of Jonathan Wood’s reconstruction of the episode. These comprised Mrs. Coleman’s line: “Let me see you do that with your neck” (dubbed onto a re-used shot of the character talking in close-up), and her scream overlaid onto a shot of the Medical Kit becoming corroded. The sound effect of the bag dematerialising at the beginning of the play (as Dr. Gillis places it within the Time Machine) was also re-used to accompany the bag’s corrosive demise.

Surviving videotape material

The extant recording was discovered in late January 1999, during the BBC’s then systematic D3 conversion of its archived videotapes. Having started work on the regional archives, the fragments turned up on an engineering training tape held in the Glasgow holdings of BBC Scotland. As Peter Crocker pointed out in the booklet notes accompanying the BFI DVD release, this was technically a black and white recording of a colour source on a low band quad recorder. However, since some of the colour signal had been “recorded accidentally”, extensive amplification and noise reduction was then utilised to enable this colour signal to be boosted.

The videotape recording starts mid-way through Scene 9, just after Full has cured Angie of the facial scars inflicted on her by a criminal gang she has become involved with. Angie suggests that they go and get a drink at a local bar, where she gently teases him over his alcoholism. Watching him shrewdly, she looks off and notices several of the gangland members enter the bar. The recovered material begins after this ‘eyeline shot’ of the gang moving to the rear of the room, with the recording then capturing the action up to Scene 23 (when Angie tragically demonstrates the medical kit’s instruments to a suspicious Mrs. Coleman).

Unfortunately, the last thirty seconds of the play were missing from the recording. However, as noted above, surviving audio fragments from this section (scenes 24 – 26) were utilised to help reconstruct the denouement for the episode’s DVD release.

Mary (Julia Lockwood) at the Medical Centre.

Mary Beldon (Julia Lockwood).

1 + 1 = 1.5

TX. 4th March 1969

Four audio excerpts exist from this production.

Story Context: The year is 2020, and Britain is leading the world in the field of effective Population Control. At the outset of the play, local Population Control Officer Henry Beldon (Garfield Morgan) has been awarded a ministerial commendation for his efforts in ensuring that his target population area abides by the computer calculated average –of 1.5 licensed children per married couple. However, his pride soon turns to anxiety when he discovers that his wife Mary (Julia Lockwood) is pregnant with a second and unlicensed child...

Extract 1: From Scene 1. Mary and Henry are enjoying a relaxing weekend in their rural cottage retreat, along with Henry’s close friend and colleague John Stewart (Bernard Horsfall). The clip begins as they sit down in the cottage’s living room to watch a television news interview regarding his recent Ministerial Commendation.

As Henry and Stewart switch on the TV monitor, the channel’s announcer announces: “Now just before we bring you Community Newsreel, here is a time check...”

Stewart calls across to Mary, who is busy gathering together coffee cups on a tray: “C’mon Mary – Henry’s interview”. Mary, who unbeknown to the two men is on the point of fainting, looks up and says listlessly, ‘Yes of course”.

The announcer continues: “Year 2020. September 3rd. 1815, Precisely”. The signature music that heralds the beginning of the news broadcast begins as Mary sits alongside Henry and Stewart. The headlines begin: “A Ministerial Commendation, First Class, was awarded today to Henry Beldon, Local Population Officer...”

Duration: 50"

Extract 2: From Scene 8, set in Stewart’s office in the Department of Health, where he has called Henry in on a most urgent matter. As his friend arrives, he switches on a monitor screen that displays a computerised printout. The clip begins as the text on the screen is rapidly displayed – it is a diagnostic report on Mary’s recent medical check-up. To everyone’s alarm, the printout concludes with: “General Conclusion: The subject is four months pregnant”.

Henry registers amazement and turns in horror to Stewart: “Mary’s pregnant! My God, we’re not licensed for two!”

An incidental music sting at this point, as we cut back to the monitor screen that simply states: “Report required”.

Duration: 25"

Extract 3: From Scene 12B. Back in Stewart’s office, Beldon consults the department’s computer at for advice and a possible solution to his personal dilemma. Nervously, he types his ‘hypothetical’ question: “Hypothesis. Mother of one, licensed, gives birth to a second child, unlicensed. What action can husband effect to maintain statistical status quo?”

The extract begins as Beldon and Stewart watch the computer’s printed reply appearing on the screen, accompanied by the machine’s impassive electronic voice: “Alternative courses of action: One – emigrate to severely under-populated area. Suggest Greenland. Two – divorce wife on grounds of criminal negligence. Three - arrange for child to be adopted as laboratory observation specimen. Four - place child in basket and float down river...”
Beldon angrily switches off the set: “Rubbish, the lot of it!”

Stewart hurriedly attempts to quell his friend’s outburst: “Sssh, Henry – Westminster might be listening in...what would the Minister think?”

Duration: 45"

Extract 4: Fragments of a subsequent scene in which Mary is participating in a pre-natal exercise class, following the directions of the computer (whose prompts are accompanied by jaunty music, e.g. “deep breath - side together, side together – tightly – and re-lax…”).

Duration: 21"

The Foster siblings (Richard Pearson and Freda Bamford)


TX. 11th March 1969

Six audio extracts exist from this production.

Radio Times billing.Story Context: Bio-chemist Harry Gerwyn (Bernard Hepton) receives an enigmatic telephone call from the seemingly innocuous Peter Foster (Richard Pearson), informing him that his wife will soon become ill. Investigating the matter, Gerwyn visits Peter at his quiet suburban home, where he appears to be living a life of placid retirement along with his sister Joan (Freda Bamford). Gerwyn quickly comes to realise however, that he is dealing with people who boast extraordinary scientific knowledge, as well as a propensity to casually commit murder...

Extract 1: From the opening telecine sequence, in which two youths - Geoff (Anton Darby) and his girlfriend Anne (Pauline Cunningham) - investigate a seemingly abandoned hanger in a disused airfield.

Finding a storeroom at the rear of the hanger (complete with shelves of medical equipment, flasks and bottles), they are covertly watched by Peter and Joan Foster through a partition at one end of the storeroom.

“I will kill the female”, intones Joan to her partner. Peter acknowledges this in what the script aptly describes as an “infinitely tired’ tone of voice.

Meanwhile, Anne looks around at the equipment and says: “Probably some firm’s taken over the place.”

“Just what I was thinking”, agrees Geoff, “I wonder what sort of racket they’re in then?” [NB. this last line of dialogue would have been heard over a shot of Peter Foster’s hand reaching for a knife].

Duration: 11"

Extract 2: From Scene 2, set in the Gerwyn’s home, in which Harry receives his first telephone call from Mr. Foster.

The clip begins at the point where Foster is flatly repeating his enigmatic message to Gerwyn: “Your wife may become ill. Be ready for it”. The dialling tone purrs as Foster abruptly rings off.

Gerwyn’s daughter Sally (Ann Penfold) asks who the caller was. A puzzled Gerwyn repeats what he has heard, adding: “But what the hell does that mean?”

Duration: 11"

Extract 3: A longer extract from Scene 3, in which Harry’s wife Mary (Yvonne Manners) is surreptitiously drugged by Joan Foster whilst travelling in a London Underground train.

The clip begins as the train alights at a station; amongst the crowd that boards the train is Joan Foster, who makes her way along the carriage and sits in a vacant seat next to Mary. As the train starts up again, Joan unfolds a newspaper and pretends to read, although this is only a ploy to obscure her actions from the fellow passengers.

Accompanied by Wilfred Joseph’s eerie incidental music, the scene continues with Joan hypnotising Mary into immobility and then scratching her hand with an odd looking implement (introducing a chemical into Mary’s bloodstream which will send her into a coma). Her work accomplished, Joan exits from the train at the next station.

Duration: 1'45"

Extract 4: A very brief fragment from Scene 5, in which hospital consultants Calton (Kevin Stone) and Digby (John Dawson) and puzzle over Mary Gerwyn’s comatose condition.

Duration: 7"

Extract 5: An excerpt from scene 7, in which Harry visits the Fosters at their quiet suburban home. When Peter explains that they are indeed responsible for his wife’s condition, Harry becomes angry, but he is quickly subdued by Peter using the hypnotic technique employed earlier on Mary.

The clip begins as Peter sits the hypnotised Harry in a chair, with Joan asking calmly: “How is your wife Dr Gerwyn?” Harry replies flatly: “she’s alright, thank you”.

“That’s better”, says Peter, “please do not make me do that again, it’s most tiring for me”. He then asks if Harry is sitting comfortably, and tells him to listen very carefully to what he has to say...

Duration: 32"

Extract 6: From the final scene of the play (shot on film), set within the hanger which formed the backdrop for the play’s opening sequence. Gerwyn has forced the Fosters to take him there, having scratched the hands of the enigmatic couple with the same implement used earlier on his wife. The storeroom of the hanger contains the only known antidote for the poison that has been injected into their system, but it soon becomes clear that the ‘Fosters’ are beyond any medical assistance.

Weakening rapidly, Peter explains to Harry how he and his ‘wife’ are actually beings from another planet, who had taken over the bodies and identities of the real Fosters in a quest to save their own dying race from extinction.

The clip begins as Peter explains to Harry how his people have similar bodies and share the same natural laws, but they do not share the same society. A cut in the clip here omits several lines of dialogue, picking up again as Peter is breathlessly acknowledging that he and his race are dying. Another cut in the clip loses Peter’s revelation that once they leave their borrowed physical form, the real Fosters will emerge again. His voice then fades and his eyes close.

The clip resumes just after this moment, as Gerwyn stands and walks away (assuming the ‘Fosters’ to be dead). At this point, the real Peter Foster re-emerges within his body and his confused voice calls out. Harry looks over and asks tentatively: “are you… the same?”
The real Joan also re-emerges and asks: “what’s happened?” whilst her perplexed husband queries whether there has been an accident.

[NB. The clip finishes just before the final line of dialogue – Harry’s rueful reply: “Yes, Mr. Foster. Yes, I suppose there was an accident.”]

Duration: 45"

Jon Hoff (David Buck) discussing the navigation plans with Joshua (Owen Berry).

Radio Times photo - Jon (David Buck) and Joshua (Owen Berry).

Mary Hoff (Suzan Farmer)


TX. 18th March 1969

Five audio extracts exist from this production:

Radio Times billing.Story Context: A multi-generational spaceship is nearing its final destination after 900 years of travel. The inhabitants of the ship have long since forgotten the meaning and purpose of their existence, but they know that the ‘end’ will come when they feel the “tremor” (caused by the ship’s engines slowing down). Only one man in this puritanical, superstitious community – Jon Hoff (David Buck) – knows that when the tremor occurs he is to read a set of instructions bequeathed to him by his dying father. These lead Jon to a sealed and long-forgotten control deck, where he will come to understand the true nature of the ship and it’s inhabitants...

Extract 1: This begins with a scene inside the ship as the ‘Tremor” occurs, with people screaming and shouting as the ship begins to tilt and shudder. This cuts to Jon Hoff and his wife Mary (Suzan Farmer) in their living quarters, with Mary exclaiming that the Tremor has begun and that “the End will come swiftly”. Jon is disbelieving, saying that they do not know that this is the end. Mary is insistent however, claiming that the falling of the Holy Picture (an iconic picture of a Tree) from its place on the wall is “a sign”. The clip ends with a brief cut back to the crowd scenes.

Duration: 31"

Extract 2: Jon’s friend Joe Manx (Ronald Lacey) has followed Jon to the newly discovered control deck of the ship. Joe sees the dictionary that Jon has been using to decipher the instructions for the ship’s navigation and denounces this as blasphemy (since all reading is strictly forbidden on the ship). Jon attempts to reason with his old friend, but Joe exits the room in order to denounce his heresy to the rest of the community. Jon pursues him, repeatedly calling his name...

Duration: 45"

Extract 3: A brief fragment of Jon talking to his mentor Joshua (Owen Berry). The old man is urging Jon to say what is on his mind, eliciting Jon’s confession that he has just killed Joe (to prevent him from revealing the control deck to the others).

Duration: 8"

Extract 4: Having disposed of Joe’s body, Jon leads Joshua to the hidden control room. The clip begins as Jon is explaining to the old man how their remote ancestors set the ship on its course when this room was sealed nine hundred years ago. He goes on to relate how generations have lived and died on the ship so that the current inhabitants could reach their destination...

Duration: 11"

Extract 5: An extract from the closing moments of the play, in which the ship has successfully landed on a suitable planet. A hatch has opened and light and the sound of birdsong has flooded the control room. Jon and Mary are getting ready to leave and Mary wonders whether the others will disembark with them.

The clip begins at the point where a taped voice announces over a PA system how a deadly gas will be released within the ship within 24 hours (in order to force the inhabitants to exit).

Jon remarks to Mary that their ancestors were “one step ahead of them all the time” and had even taken precautions to ensure that everyone leaves the ship. He takes Mary’s hand and the two of them begin exiting through the hatch [this would have led into the closing credits]

Duration: 11"


TX. 25th March 1969

A complete audio recording of this episode survives.

The existence of this recording first came to light in early 2003, when archive TV enthusiast Mark Slater had an opportunity to sift through approximately 70 reel-to-reel audio tapes owned by his friend Keith Underhill, a SF fan who had routinely taped various television broadcasts since 1968.

Keith had also retained a notebook that catalogued the contents of these tapes, which indicated that The Naked Sun (another third series production) might also be found amongst the collection. Although this recording was not to be found when Mark patiently went through the recordings, it subsequently emerged that the BBC sound archives already held a near complete off-air recording of this play (see separate entry for details). It was surmised that Keith’s recording of The Naked Sun (alongside that of Liar!) were simply unfortunate casualties of the tapes being re-used.

Subsequently, Mark and Keith kindly loaned the original reel-to-reel tape to the BBC sound archives, where the recording was professionally transferred by Mark Ayres. Further restoration work was completed by Michael Fillis in 2014, for the use of the soundtrack in Derek Handley’s reconstruction of the episode for the BFI DVD release. The restoration has carefully removed the extraneous ‘DIY’ noises (including occasional hammering!) that plagued sections of Keith’s original recording.

Helen Carter (Angela Browne) and John Frame (Francis Matthews)

Steve (Peter Barkworth) prepares Peter Parnell (Donal Donelly).

Steve (Peter Barkworth) and  Peter Parnell (Donal Donelly): "I must need my head examined!"

Parnell (Donal Donelly) and Craswell (Peter Jeffrey) poised to face the 'demons'.

Pete (Donal Donnelly)


TX. 1st April 1969

Five audio extracts exist from this production.

Marsham Craswell as Multan The Mighty (Peter Jeffrey) and Pete Parnell as Nelpar The Mighty (Donal Donelly).Story Context: SF writer Marsham Craswell (Peter Jeffrey) has suffered a nervous breakdown through overwork. He now lies in a catatonic state ‘living’ his fantasies rather than writing them, his delirious ravings noted and recorded by a supervising Psychiatrist (Peter Barkworth). The Psychiatrist has an extraordinary idea for bringing Craswell back to reality, involving linking the writer’s subconscious mind to that of ‘down-to-earth’ wily Sports reporter Pete Parnell (Donal Donelly). In effect, he hopes to introduce a dose of “common-sense reality” that will undermine and subvert Craswell’s fanciful imaginings.

At the play’s outset, Parnell is relating a childhood experience to the Psychiatrist, in which an extraordinary technique was employed by his father to help counter recurring nightmares about the Daleks...

Extract 1: The first short clip derives from the play’s opening ‘flashback’ sequence, shot on 35mm film. In a remote farmhouse, a young Pete Parnell has been having nightmares about Daleks appearing in his bedroom at night. His father attempts to empower Pete by showing him a picture of a Colt.45, which he says will ‘enter’ his dreams whenever Pete needs it. The clip picks up the action at the point where Pete is having a further nightmare, within which a group of Daleks enter his bedroom chanting “exterminate, annihilate, destroy” (accompanied by Herbert Chappell’s electronic incidental music rising to a crescendo). Pete lifts the gun out of its picture frame and fires five shots in rapid succession. The Daleks begin screaming as they make a hurried retreat...

NB. The script refers to how the Daleks ‘diminish and scuttle away across the floor’ as they retreat, lending weight to a viewer recollection of how they are reduced to the level of toys after Pete fires at them (perhaps using the Louis Marx toy versions popular at the time).

Duration: 14"

Extract 2: From telecine sequence 4. Having been rigged up to a bizarre form of encephalograph in a private hospital ward, the adult Pete Parnell ‘materialises’ (in a puff of smoke) in the subconscious fantasy world of Marsham Craswell. He finds himself in a burning desert with twin suns blazing down on him. Scornfully facing him is the extraordinary figure of Craswell, who has re-created himself as “the Mighty Multan”, laughably adorned in a Pulp-SF ‘gladiator’ costume. Pete takes a diffident no-nonsense approach and says: “How do you do, Marsham Craswell I presume?”

This cuts back briefly to scene 6, in which the ‘real’ Craswell is seen writhing in the hospital bed, moaning at the sudden mental intrusion: “No, no - go away!”

We cut back to the telecine sequence, with Parnell quickly adjusting to his new surroundings and mockingly remarking on Craswell’s bronzed and muscular dreamworld counterpart: “You don’t half tan quickly don’t you?” he quips, “the last time I saw you, you were as white as a bed sheet”.

Hurriedly adjusting to the intrusion himself, Craswell attempts to ‘write’ Parnell in as part of the fantasy, and asks whether Pete is an “Earthman....?” [He later renames Parnell as “Nelpar the Mighty” – see extract 3 below].

Duration: 30"

Extract 3: [From the subsequent film sequence] Finding that he has the power himself to translate his own thoughts into ‘real’ objects in this imaginary world, Pete conjures up a Police Phone Box (the TARDIS prop) in order to request help. Nearby, Craswell is screaming a succession of battle cries and oaths as he prepares to fight against a hoard of alien creatures.

Pete hurriedly calls his friend the Sergeant to help deal with Craswell’s fictional demons: “Oh, hullo Sarge, is that you? Pete Parnell here. Could you get a few of the boys over…”
Irritated by Craswell’s continued ravings, he rounds on him and shouts: “Keep it down will yer? I can’t hear myself think!”

He then gets back on to the phone: “What? Oh we’ve got a bit of trouble on hand…what? Oh, well er…civil disturbance you might call it. Oh, thanks Sarge, alright, yes, I’ll wait – cheers.”

As he puts the phone down, Craswell ravings continue: ‘Hear my Battle Cry, the Snake shall die, death to them all! Come Nelpar, join me…”

There is a cut in the clip here, with the action resuming as the Sergeant and a group of Policemen arrive on the scene to make short work of Craswell’s demonic hoards. “Oh hullo Sarge”, says Pete with relief, “thanks for coming...”

Craswell is horrified at the anachronism of London “Bobbies” intruding in his science-fantasy world: “Madness” he screams...

Duration: 50"

Extract 4: Parnell conjures up a group of Daleks from his childhood nightmare, promising Craswell (who does not recognise the fictional creations) that he’ll tell him about them sometime.

Craswell however, is reluctant to admit anything that counters his own ‘reality’. Accordingly he denies seeing them: “Daleks? Daleks? There are no Daleks here...”

Annoyed at his denial, Parnell retorts: “Oh, don’t be such a sop Craswell, you’re not the only imagination...”

Duration: 10"

Extract 5: Parnell and Craswell have made their way to their final destination – the throne room of the High Priestess Garor (Vicki Woolf), the evil nemesis to Craswell’s ‘Mighty Multan’ and keeper of the “Great Diamond” which they must destroy in order to complete their quest.

The clip begins as Garor confronts them and intones that both intruders must die. “I don’t think she’s kidding….”, says Parnell glibly.

Craswell however, is insistent that they must complete their objective. “Behind that shield is the hidden diamond”, he urges, “Nelpar, you must break it down!”

Duration: 10"

In addition to the above, there are a few snatches of dialogue from a couple of very brief fragments, including Craswell cursing Parnell and the latter saying resignedly “Here we go again” (probably from the sequence in which Parnell is briefly brought back to reality, but prompts the Psychiatrist to send him back as he feels he was getting close to breaking Craswell’s grip on his fantasy world); and Craswell’s fantasy alter-ego saying melodramatically: “Condemned to die here in the Pit of the Beast”, presumably from the later film sequence in which the two heroes are staked out in the lair of the giant spider.






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