OUT OF THE UNKNOWN
SEASON 3 CLIPS GUIDE
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
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
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
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’.
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
Blaine simply stares at him, then begins
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
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…
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…”,
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…
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…
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
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:
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
“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
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
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
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
Durations: 30” (Travelling Sound) + 21”
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).
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).
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.
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
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
M.13 Another short sting, as the Reject
appears in the nick of time to gun down Blaine’s assailant.
M.14 As Scene 7 concludes, with Blaine
and the Reject leaving Marie’s apartment.
M.15 No cue listed in script
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
M.17 Overlaid on stock film footage of
‘South Sea Islands’
M.18 As the Reject appears in the doorway
of their hideaway location, having tracked Blaine down.
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.
M.20 As Blaine takes a last look at
Marie, before following the Reject into the ‘Suicide Booth’.
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.
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).
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
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
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… 
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? 
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
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
 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.
 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’.
 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.
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
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
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”.
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.
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].
A clip from the play’s opening scene,
showing the robot factory’s production line commencing operation.
A clip from the play’s opening scene,
showing the robot factory’s production line commencing operation.
Long shot – wide angle of factory floor
(camera begins to crab right)
Play title ‘Liar!’ superimposed – faded
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.
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
Close shot of RB-1’s ‘head’ – the two
halves are snapped shut.
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
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.
Cut to a newspaper headline proclaiming:
NB. Audio is muted under Asimov’s dialogue
(Mix to) Similar to shot 4 - with the
camera going into a close shot of Ogilvy as RB-2 rising and stating “I
Cut to 2nd newspaper headline: ‘The Robot
(Mix to) Similar to shot 7, with Ogilvy as
RB-15 rising into close-up and stating: ”I am RB-15”
Cut to 3rd newspaper headline: ‘Robots –
What is the Government Doing?’
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!’
A sequence from Scene 7.
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.
Close up of Ashe, emphasising his
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”
Resuming the close up of Ashe, as Herbie
(reading Ashe’s mind) apologises that it can’t switch itself off.
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.
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
A sequence from scene 10, with Lanning,
Calvin, Ashe and Bogert discussing the problem of Herbie’s telepathic
ability in Lanning’s office.
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.
(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?”
(CU of Lanning) “Nothing”, he continues,
since this fact marks “the most important advance in robotics for
Ashe (OOV): “Well then?”
Lanning adds thoughtfully: “If only we knew
how it happened”.
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.
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
SOMETHING IN THE CELLAR
TX. 4th February 1969
12 audio clips survive from this
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
Monty ponders on this, wringing his hands: “Oh dear, it does that – and
that curious frequency jump...”
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...
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,
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”.
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.
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”...
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.
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
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.
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...
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]
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
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
set photo's, courtesy of designer
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".
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).
A single clip ( b/w T/R ) and two audio
excerpts currently exist from this production.
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
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...”
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
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.
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
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.
THE NAKED SUN
TX. 18th February 1969
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
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.
LITTLE BLACK BAG
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
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
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”.
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
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...
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
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
Scene 24. Inside Full’s Surgery
Mrs Coleman: “Let me see you do that with
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
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
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
1 + 1 =
TX. 4th March 1969
Four audio excerpts exist from this
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
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...”
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
Henry registers amazement and turns in
horror to Stewart: “Mary’s pregnant! My God, we’re not licensed for
An incidental music sting at this point,
as we cut back to the monitor screen that simply states: “Report
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?”
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…”).
TX. 11th March 1969
Six audio extracts exist from this
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
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
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].
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
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.
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.
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...
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
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.”]
TX. 18th March 1969
Five audio extracts exist from this
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
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.
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...
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).
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
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]
THE YELLOW PILL
TX. 25th March 1969
A complete audio recording of this
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.
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.
TX. 1st April 1969
Five audio extracts exist from this
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).
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].
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
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
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
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...”
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!”
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.
CLIPS LISTING - SEASON ONE
CLIPS LISTING - SEASON TWO
CLIPS LISTING - SEASON FOUR