UFO : Season 1 Episode 1
A single series of 26 episodes (including the pilot) was filmed over the course of more than a year; a five-month production break was caused by the closure of MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, where the show was initially made. Production then moved to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. UFO was first broadcast in the UK and Canada in 1970, and in the US syndication over the next two years. It also has been rerun on UKTV channel Drama.
UFO : Season 1 Episode 1
The Andersons' live-action science fiction movie Doppelgänger (also known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun) is considered an immediate precursor to UFO, which was their first entirely live-action TV series. (Their previous shows had used marionettes.) The series featured actors, costumes, props, locations and music that had appeared in the film, and 11 cast members of the film appeared in at least one episode of UFO.
On the website shadolibrary.org, Deborah Rorabaugh has created a timeline of events in chronological order, using a few known dates and facts. For example, "Exposed" should come before all other episodes featuring Paul Foster, and there are a few definitive dates given (two newspaper dates, a death and script date). UFO Episode Timing.
In addition to the shift from using marionettes to real actors, another key point of difference is that while Anderson's previous series were explicitly made for pre-teen audiences, UFO was a deliberate attempt to court young adult and adult viewers. Some UFO episodes included serious adult themes such as divorce, drug use, the challenge of maintaining work/family balance, mind control, alien abduction, illegal organ harvesting, and murder.
Principal photography commenced in April 1969 with production based at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood. Seventeen episodes were filmed at these studios before they closed at the end of 1969. Production resumed at Pinewood Studios when studio space became available in June 1970, making UFO a 17-month-long production by the time the final nine episodes were completed. After the break, George Sewell (who played Alec Freeman) and Gabrielle Drake (Lt. Gay Ellis) were no longer available, and left the series.
Due to the series being shown out of production order, their omission was not overly noticeable. Previously, Harry Baird, who played interceptor pilot Mark Bradley, had left the series after just four episodes, citing contractual problems (although he reappeared in a few later episodes from stock footage). Also, Skydiver Captain Peter Carlin, played by Peter Gordeno, left after eight episodes out of a fear of being typecast.
Some episodes feature downbeat or tragic elements. In "Flight Path", a SHADO operative who has been blackmailed into giving crucial data to the aliens redeems himself by thwarting a sneak attack on Moonbase, but is killed in the attempt, and dies not knowing that his wife has been murdered by an alien agent. In "Survival", after another sneak attack on Moonbase, an injured Col. Foster encounters an alien on the lunar surface but, although the alien unexpectedly befriends and helps him, a misunderstanding leads to the alien being killed by SHADO operatives. "Confetti Check A-O.K." is almost entirely devoted to the breakdown of Straker's marriage under the strain of maintaining secrecy, owing to the classified nature of his duties. "A Question of Priorities" hinges on Straker having to choose between diverting a SHADO aircraft to deliver life-saving medical supplies to his critically injured son, or allow the aircraft to continue its mission to intercept an alien who appears to want to surrender to SHADO.
Another episode, "The Square Triangle", centres on a woman and her lover who plan to murder her husband. When they accidentally kill an alien from a downed UFO instead, SHADO intervenes and doses the guilty pair with amnesia drugs. Straker realises, however, that the drugs will not affect their basic motivation and, worse, he cannot reveal the truth to local legal authorities. The end credits of this episode run over a scene set in the near future, showing the woman visiting her husband's grave and then walking away to meet her lover.
On Earth, SHADO also uses two SHADAIR aircraft, a Seagull X-ray supersonic jet (e.g. in the episode "Identified") and a transport plane (e.g. in the episode "A Question of Priorities"); a transatlantic Lunar Carrier with a separating Lunar module (e.g. in "Computer Affair"); a Helicopter (actually, a small VTOL aeroplane with large rotating propellers, e.g. in the episode "Ordeal"); and a Radio-controlled (Space) Dumper (e.g. in "The Long Sleep"). Also, the Moonbase has hovercraft-like Moon Hoppers/Moonmobiles that can be deployed for transportation or reconnaissance.
The extraterrestrial spacecraft can readily cross the vast distances between their planet and Earth at many times the speed of light (abbreviated and pronounced as "SOL"; e.g., "SOL one decimal seven" is 1.7 times the speed of light), but are too small to carry more than a few crew members. Their time on station is limited: UFOs can only survive for a couple of days in Earth's atmosphere before they deteriorate and finally explode. The UFOs can survive for far longer underwater; one episode, "Reflections in the Water", deals with the discovery of a secret undersea alien base and shows one UFO flying straight out of an extinct volcano, which Straker describes as "a back door to the Atlantic". A special underwater version of the standard UFO design is seen in "Sub-Smash". In flight they are surrounded by horizontally spinning vanes, and emit a distinctive pulsing electronic whine that sounds like a Shoooe-Wheeeh! (produced by series composer Barry Gray on an ondes Martenot). The craft is armed with a laser-type weapon, and conventional explosive warheads can destroy it. The personal arms of the aliens resemble shiny metal submachine guns; these have a lower rate of fire than those used by SHADO. Later episodes, such as "The Cat with Ten Lives", show the aliens using other weapons, such as a small device that paralyses victims.
Only two of the alien suits were made, so at no point in the series are more than two of the aliens seen on screen at any one time. In the episode "Ordeal", Paul Foster is carried by two aliens while he is wearing an alien space suit, but one of those two aliens is always off-screen when Foster is on-screen.
The alien spacesuit costumes were made of red spandex. At the start of production, the alien spacesuits were ornamented with brass chain mesh, as seen in the episode "Survival". Later, this was replaced by silvery panels. In reality, the dark vertical bands on the sides of the helmets were slits meant to allow the actors to breathe.
The Andersons never explained at the time why female Moonbase personnel uniformly wore mauve or purple wigs, silver catsuits, and extensive eye make-up. Furthermore, their unusual apparel is never discussed in the series. Gerry Anderson has since commented that it made them look more futuristic and that it filmed better under the bright lights, while Sylvia Anderson said she believed wigs would become accepted components of military uniforms by the 1980s. However, in an interview given toward the end of her life, Sylvia explained that the decision was a combination of visual appeal and practicality - the wigs provided a striking and futuristic look, but they also saved the production the considerable time and expense of having to style the hair of each of the female Moonbase staff for each episode, as well as keeping the 'look' of the hairstyles consistent from episode to episode. However, whenever female Moonbase personnel visited Earth (as Ellis and Barry did from time to time), their lunar uniforms and wigs were never worn.The show's fictional conception of futuristic dress can be compared to André Courreges' actual futurist 'Space Designs' really worn just before the show's time.
Ed Bishop, who had naturally dark hair, initially bleached his hair for Straker's unique white-haired look. After the break in production he began wearing a white wig. Until not long before his death he possessed one of the wigs he wore on the show, and took great delight in displaying it at science fiction conventions and on TV programmes. In the episode "Mindbender", Stuart Damon is seen wearing the same white wig, although deliberately ill-fitting, in a dream sequence segment. Bishop also kept a Certina watch that was specially made for his character.
Other male characters in the series also wore wigs, again because the Andersons felt that they would become fashionable for both sexes by the 1980s. Michael Billington does not wear a wig in early episodes; these can be identified by his receding hairline and long sideburns.
Sylvia Anderson, having had made a pair of very sheer trousers for actor Patrick Allen to wear in the episode "Timelash", later regretted not having had the nerve to ask him to wear a jockstrap underneath, and commented on the DVD release of the series that "you should not be able to tell which side anybody's 'packet' is on".
The futuristic, gull-winged cars driven by Straker and Foster were originally built for the Anderson movie Doppelgänger. During the shooting of UFO, David Lowe and Sydney Carlton raised funds to form a company called The Explorer Motor Company, dedicated to the mass production of these cars for sale to the public. A plastic mould was made of the Straker car, in preparation for mass production, but the company never got off the ground. Both Ed Bishop and Michael Billington commented that the futuristic cars were "impossible to drive", partly because the steering wheel was designed for looks rather than functionality. Also, the gull-wing doors did not open automatically. Every shot in which the car door was seen to open automatically had to be arranged so that a prop man could run up to the car, just outside the frame, open the door, and hold it open while Ed Bishop stepped out. In certain episodes (most notably "Court Martial") the prop man can be seen. The show also made limited use of American models, which were unfamiliar to British viewers. These supposedly futuristic vehicles included a 1965 Ford Galaxie station wagon and an Oldsmobile Toronado. 041b061a72