by Colin Cutler

This follow-up season has unfortunately fared much worse than its predecessor, with a total of eight out of twelve productions absent from the BBC’s archives.

Of these eight however, audio extracts are currently known to exist from four productions – Second Childhood, The Fastest Draw, Satisfaction Guaranteed and The Prophet, whilst a substantial clip (b/w 16mm film) also exists from Satisfaction Guaranteed.

It is probable that the surviving audio clips originate from the repeat broadcast of six plays from this series on BBC-1 in early 1967 (the other productions being The Machine Stops and Level 7).

Missing, believed wiped: three lost episodes of Out of the Unknown: Wanda Ventham in The Eye; Deborah Watling and Mark Eden in The World in Silence; Jean Aubrey, Paul Daneman and his replicas in Too Many Cooks

Three lost episodes of Out of the Unknown: Wanda Ventham in The Eye (top left); Deborah Watling and Mark Eden in The World in Silence (top right); Jean Aubrey, Paul Daneman and his replicas in Too Many Cooks (bottom).

BBC Enterprises sales brochure for series two, featuring images from (clockwise) Frankenstein Mk II, Too Many Cooks, The Machine Stops and Second Childhood.

Dr Keppler (hugo Shuster) explains the rejeuvanation process to Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock).

Odile Keppler (Caroline Blakiston) and Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock)

Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock)


TX. 10th November 1966

Three audio extracts currently exist from this production

Story Context: In a televised Game Show of the near future, sixty-year-old Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock) has won the “prize beyond price” – a course of unique treatment resulting in complete physical rejuvenation. Travelling to an exclusive clinic in the Swiss Alps to receive this treatment, Dennistoun meets with the brilliant but aged creator of the rejuvenation process, Dr Gerard Keppler (Hugo Shuster)…

Extract 1. The first extract derives from Scene 4, in which Dr Keppler is explaining the rejuvenation process to Charles.

This extract begins at the point where Keppler is using the metaphor of a clock running backwards to describe the process. Pointing to the clock on the wall of his office, Keppler asks Charles to imagine the small wheel turning slowly inside the mechanism. Keppler then describes how this wheel might be stopped and then spun in the opposite direction. When it reaches 9am, it could be stopped again and the procedure reversed – the clock would move forward once more, but now it would be morning, with the long summer’s day ahead of them.

Charles protests that this would be just an illusion, since for other people it would still be the middle of the afternoon. Keppler asks whether Charles is bothered about “what the time is for other people”, to which Charles gives a hesitant “no”.

Keppler goes on to state how the treatment will consist of exposure to a form of radiation. When Charles asks whether this would be all that the treatment entails, Keppler notes that there will also be a “great many injections”.

At this point, Keppler’s wife Odile, who has already undergone the rejuvenation process and looks to be about 28, enters the room breezily and says: “I’m ready if the patient is”.

Duration: 50"


Extract 2. The second extract covers the operation sequence, in which an anaesthetised Charles is sealed off inside the ‘radiation room’ and monitored closely by Keppler and Odile. The soundtrack features the Radiophonic effects composed for the production, and has no dialogue apart from Keppler’s request to Odile to have Charles’s “heart X-ray” displayed on a monitor screen.

Duration: 45"

Extract 3. This last short extract is from Scene 32, in which Charles is discussing the post-operative changes in his body with Odile. The latter tells Charles that his ‘selected age’ (the age determined by the rejuvenation process) will be that of thirty years.
Charles muses on this: “Thirty eh?… could be worse, couldn’t it? A lot worse”. Odile states that this is a good age for a man, and asks whether Charles was a handsome man when he was thirty. Charles shrugs and says that it is hard for him to catch himself, in his mind, at any particular point in his life.

Duration: 20"

Dr Odile Keppler (Caroline Blakiston), Robin Phillips (Dr Willi Herstein) and Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock)

Charles Dennistoun (Nigel Stock) plays 'You Bet a Million' with host Ronnie Cash (Ronald Curram)


TX. 8th December 1966

Two brief audio extracts exist from this production:

Story Context: Electronics expert Peter Stenning (James Maxwell) is contracted by the eccentric Amos Handworthy (Ed Begley) to work at the Handworthy Foundation, a fully automated electronics plant situated in the heart of a Texan desert. Amos is clearly fascinated by the era of the American Wild West and has already constructed a replica of a frontier town street within his ‘automata room’. This comes complete with an automatic Marshal, with which Amos has been ‘drawing’ his electronic gun in the style of an old western shoot-out. In his desire to be the ‘fastest draw’, Amos instructs Peter to speed up the Marshal's actions….

Extract 1: From Scene 12. In the automata room, Amos is proudly showing Peter the workings of his automatic Marshall. To Peter bemusement, Amos demonstrates the speed by which he has been drawing his gun against his mechanical component. When the Marshall is ‘hit ‘, the machine’s taped voice is triggered: “You got me you dirty varmint”
Amos explains that the voice recording was a little idea of his own, and is triggered every time his shot hits the Marshall on its ‘target photo cells’.

Peter is beginning to fear that Amos is unbalanced, and says to himself: “Now I’ve seen everything”.

Duration 10”

Extract 2: From Scene 14. Peter has modified the Marshall to enable both Amos and his opponent to ‘shoot’ at each other with ultra-violet light. Furthermore, if the Marshall is hit the taped voice will no longer be triggered, since Peter has rigged the guns to switch off if either opponent is hit in a prescribed ‘vital area’ (i.e. the heart).

The clip begins as Amos puts this new set-up into practice. The Marshall and Amos draw their guns simultaneously, but after the initial flash of ultra-violet light Amos begins flourishing his gun in frustration: “My trigger – it’s locked!”

Peter points out that the Marshall has already killed him, to which Amos protests: “But I beat him to the draw!”

“Just,” says Peter, “only he hit you in the heart”.

Duration: 13”


TX. 29th December 1966

A single clip (b/w 16mm film) and one extended audio extract exist from this production.

Story Context: Larry Belmont (Barry Warren) is an ambitious executive of a company keen to conduct a field experiment involving a new range of ‘domestic’ robots. The experiment is to take place at his own home, much to the anxiety of his wife Claire (Wendy Craig). His first step is allay her concerns about the safety of the new robot, a machine indistinguishable from a man and known simply as TN-3 or ‘Tony’ (Hal Hamilton)…

Existing film material

A section lasting approximately two and a half minutes exists from Scene 4 of the play, in which a bemused Claire is introduced to Tony for the first time and is initially skeptical of its non-human status.

The clip derives from an edition of the BBC-1 science documentary series Towards Tomorrow entitled Robot (TX. 28/12/67, Produced by Ramsay Short). This edition contained a large amount of interview material featuring Isaac Asimov, in which he related his thoughts on current trends in the field of Robotics. (Frame-grabs of the opening title sequence can be seen below). The Satisfaction Guaranteed clip was used in an early segment of the programme, in order to illustrate Asimov’s reflections on the various reasons for disregarding purely functional considerations in robot design and create robots in the shape and form of humans.

Title sequence of the 1967 'Towards Tomorrow' programme 'Robot'

The clip begins as Claire, Larry Belmont and Tony, along with company Robo-psychologist Dr Jensen (Ann Firbank) gather together in the living room of the Belmont’s home. Asimov’s narration (a continuation of the interview footage which precedes the clip) obscures the first thirteen seconds of the extract’s soundtrack in the first two shots. The lost dialogue is outlined below:

As Dr Jensen and TN-3 sit, Claire turns in consternation to Larry:

Claire: How long will you be away?

Larry: Two or three weeks. Three at the outside

Claire: Three weeks...!

Larry: I know – it’s a nuisance. And I loathe leaving you on your own for so long.

Dr Jensen: Mrs. Belmont won’t be quite on her own.

The play’s soundtrack then cuts in, with Larry turning to Claire and saying: “Claire, while we’re away, we’d like you to take charge of TN-3”. Since Clare looks at him blankly, Jensen goes on to explain: “TN-3 is a robot”.

Claire protests against the idea, and Larry attempts to calm her by pointing out that TN-3 is fully programmed – she “won’t even have to press a button”. When Claire suggests leaving the robot somewhere else, Larry explains that their field-test “isn’t quite legal”, since domestic robots aren’t as yet permitted by law - as a result, nobody must know about ‘Tony’. Again Claire looks at him blankly, to which Larry responds by adding: “I mean that he’s a robot”.

Claire is incredulous at this, and refuses to believe that the ‘person’ sat opposite her, apparently listening politely, is anything less than human. On Larry’s suggestion, Claire then gingerly feels for Tony’s (non-existent) pulse. Dr Jensen then suggests that if Claire is still not convinced, she can demonstrate how Tony’s eyes are removable. However, her demonstration of this is cut short by Claire’s frightened protests and she resorts instead to describing the level of detail that has gone into TN-3’s design: “He is beautiful don’t you agree…”

At this point in the clip, a short piece of narration (by John Stocksbridge) is overlaid on the play’s soundtrack as follows: ‘In his recently dramatised novel Satisfaction Guaranteed, Isaac Asimov reveals the standard of engineering he expects to see’. This obscures Jensen’s line of dialogue, which ran as follows:

Dr Jensen: No human body is so perfectly proportioned; no human skin is so unblemished. Magnificent…a miracle of detail”

The episode’s soundtrack returns with Jensen going on to explain how the “real miracle” exists inside Tony’s skull – an artificial brain, nearly as complicated as a human’s, which works like an “immense telephone switchboard” receiving and acting on billions of possible connections.

Claire is completely dumbfounded by all of this, saying weakly “it’s very interesting”. Larry asks her whether she’s now agreeable to the proposition, to which she can only respond with: “I don’t know – couldn’t we talk about it in another room?" The others laugh at her naiveté.

Duration: 2'26"

NB. For the clip’s inclusion in the BFI DVD release, the original documentary narration that obscures Jensen’s line of dialogue was replaced by interview reflections from the episode’s director John Gorrie.

Surviving audio extract

The existing audio material consists of a section (lasting just over two minutes) from scenes 12 and 13.

This begins at the point where Claire walks into her kitchen at night, and discovers Tony ‘reading’ a magazine in the dark, courtesy of its ‘ultra-violet’ vision. Claire is confused at the manner in which Tony seems to be hurriedly flicking over the pages of the magazine, and accuses it of not being able to read. Tony politely corrects her by saying that it is scanning the pages and that it’s memory is photographic. When Claire queries why the robot is looking at “women’s magazines”, Tony states that one of it’s duties is to assimilate all available information, of whatever nature, and that this helps to increase it’s usefulness.
Changing the subject, Claire mentions that she thought she had heard a kettle boiling. Tony offers her tea, and when Claire refuses, the robot begins suggesting a range of alternatives despite Claire’s insistence that she does not want anything. She accuses Tony of “impertinence” and storms out of the kitchen.

There is a short break in the clip at this point, within which Claire notices that Tony has followed her into the living room. This loses two pieces of dialogue, comprising Claire’s request that Tony returns to the kitchen and the robot’s monotone refusal: “No, Mrs. Belmont”.

The extract then picks up the action at Claire’s startled reaction to the robot’s refusal to obey a human order. Running around the living-room table in order to put something between herself and the robot, she demands that it stays away from her. Tony attempts to assuage her fears by acknowledging that it is obliged to obey. However, the robot continues, there is also the question of priority. It reasons that if it were to return to the kitchen, then Mrs. Belmont would continue to remain frightened of its presence in the house.

When Claire blusters: “Frightened? Who says I’m frightened?”, Tony replies that her voice and manner betray her anxiety.

A second break in the clip at this point, losing Tony’s statement that Claire’s fear is based on the fact that it so closely resembles a human being and she cannot accept Tony as a machine – therefore she looks on the robot as a stranger in her house.

The extract resumes again with Claire’s reply: “So you are!”. Tony states that it is a mere appliance like her vacuum cleaner and washing machine, and that until she realises this, the experiment is a failure. It states that Claire must believe that its actions are merely for her own good.

A third short break here, losing Claire’s nervous statement that although the quality of Tony’s voice has now changed, the robot’s facial expression has remained unaltered.
The extract resumes as Tony explains how facial expression is dictated by mood and instinct, both of which it is incapable of experiencing. Having said this, Tony then offers to ‘smile’ if it makes Claire feel more relaxed. However, the ensuing ‘smile’ is unnerving since only the curvature of the mouth is altered. Claire shudders and says: “Never mind…”

Duration: 2'04”

Astronauts Mike Donovan (Brian Davies) and  Greg Powell (David Healy), with robot QT-1

QT-1 leads the brethren.

QT-1 watches the humans assembling a robot.


TX. January 1st 1967

Six audio extracts currently exist from this production

Story Context: Astronauts Greg Powell (David Healy) and Mike Donovan (Brian Davies) are working as the only human operatives on a remote Space Station, overseeing the tireless working of its robot workforce. One of the station’s newest acquisitions is robot QT-1 (Tenniel Evans), whose logical deductions lead it to the conclusion that humans could not have constructed either itself or the other robots because of their inferior physical and intellectual prowess. QT-1 reasons that it’s true ‘master’ is the central power source which lies at the heart of their operations - the station’s ‘Energy Converter’ which directs steady beams of solar energy to Earth…

Summary of Audio Extracts

Extract 1: A short segment from Scene 9, in which Powell and Donovan are checking some calculations. Donovan notes that they can turn off the space station’s scheduled energy beam. Powell nods in abstraction, telling Donovan to ‘flash’ QT-1 who is down in the control room, in order that the robot can take care of this procedure. He then directs Donovan’s attention to his calculations [which notes an imminent solar storm]: “Mike, what do you make of these figures?”

Duration: 10"

Extract 2: From Scene 9a, in which QT-1 is giving the first of several ‘sermons’ to its fellow robots down in the Converter room. QT-1 stands by the Converter mechanism and asks it’s ‘brethren’ whether it is right that they “should obey creatures who live in the darkness of inferior reason?”

The assembled robots chant in unison: “No - no - no”

QT-1 then continues by intoning: “Is it fitting, that we should obey instructions from so-called humans, who show no reverence for truth and reason, and who are lost in self-righteous delusion?”

The robots again chant their dissent.

Duration: 32"

Extract 3: A longer section from scene 11, in which Donovan comes across QT-1 preaching to the assembled robots down in the Converter room. The clip begins just after the point where Donovan has witnessed the robots chanting “There is no Master but the Master, and QT-1 is his Prophet”.

“Oh, we’ll see about that!” Donovan shouts in anger, furious at the robots for ignoring their tasks and kneeling reverently before QT-1. Donovan notices Powell entering the room, and screams out for assistance: “Greg - this is insurrection!”

Powell orders QT-1 to report to his office immediately, saying he will “deal with these animated gadgets in my own fashion”. QT-1 is unperturbed, claiming that the humans clearly do not understand how robots are reasoning beings, and how they recognise the Master now that QT-1 has preached the truth to them. “They call me the Prophet”, it adds, calling on the robots to rise and praise the Master.

The robots rise as a group, and chant in unison: “The-Master-be-prais-ed”. Donovan is furious, and says sarcastically: “well isn’t that nice - isn’t that just fine!”

Duration: 55"

Extract 4: From Scene 13, where QT-1 is holding another ‘religious service’ in the Converter room.

As it speaks to the kneeling robots, it moves among them with an oil can and cup, ‘anointing’ their heads: “We shall trust thee o Master, who made us and ask thee to bring reason and light, and the wisdom of light to those lesser beings who know not what they do, because they fail to comprehend your infinite wisdom…help us, O Master”.

This is followed by a piece of Radiophonic music [based on Bach’s Toccata & Fugue]. The robots then begin a rhythmic chant: “O Mas-ter, O Mas-ter…” [NB. This is a completely different piece to the well-known Delia Derbyshire composition for this episode. See note below.]

Duration: 1'28"

Extract 5: From Scene 15, in which QT-1, having barred Powell and Donovan from entering the converter room, consents to see them again. It informs them that their usefulness to the ‘Master’ is over, and that they are no longer required at the station. With a pontifical gesture, he directs them to leave: “Go to your officer’s room and pack up your personal belongings – especially your revolting food. Then you may join your wives and reflect upon reason.”

Shaking it’s head ‘sadly’, QT-1 turns to two other robots and instructs them to take Powell and Donovan away. The robots chant “Away”, and lead the bewildered humans out [a reprise here of the Radiophonic music noted above].

Duration: 27"

Extract 6: From Scene 19, set in the assembly room, where the humans are constructing a robot from scratch in order to convince QT-1 that humans are responsible for creating robots (and are therefore the legitimate ‘superior’ beings).

As the newly constructed robot (QT-13) lifts itself from the construction table, it begins haltingly to ask for its first orders: “I….I….”. Powell looks on and says in encouragement: “We hear you QT-13”.

“I-would-like-to-start work”, QT-13 says slowly, “where-must I-go?”

“Down to the control room. The others will tell you what to do”, responds Powell, before turning to QT-11 and asking it to open the door to allow the new robot to exit.

Duration: 35"

Note: A Radiophonic track, specially composed by Delia Derbyshire for this production, entitled Ziw-zih Ziw-zih oo-oo-oo, was released on the 1971 album BBC Radiophonic Music (itself a commercial issue of an earlier internal BBC record). The surviving script indicates that the track was used on at least two occasions in the production.






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