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Features: Articles & Interviews

MainMission: 2000 panel session with Catherine Schell (Maya)

The following was transcribed/written by Matt Butts.

Our deepest gratitude to Matt Butts for his permission to reprint this on Please visit Matt online at his Space: 1999 web site: Alpha Chronicle Online @

MainMission:2000 was the first science fiction convention appearance for Catherine Schell, who played Alpha's science officer, Maya, during the show's second season, and who also was a guest star in the first season episode "Guardian of Piri." At MainMission:2000, she was interviewed by John Muir, author of "Exploring Space: 1999" and "Space: 1999 - The Forsaken."

JOHN MUIR: Ladies and gentlemen. We have just seen Alpha's one science office [Barry Morse], and we are about to see Moonbase Alpha's second science officer. It is my great privilege to introduce the beautiful, the gracious, the elegant... Catherine Schell!

[Applause as Catherine takes the stage and embraces Barry Morse.]

CATHERINE SCHELL: How long have we waited to see these two together? Where else will you see these two together?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: "Guardian of Piri!" [Note: That was me, actually. — Matt]

JOHN MUIR: Oh, okay. Together again, then.

CATHERINE SCHELL: We were old mates!

BARRY MORSE: We go back a long way!

CATHERINE SCHELL: We worked together doing a show called The Adventurer and we were working with some horrible people, weren't we? Horrible people! What was his name? Gene Barry! Not very nice.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Science fiction fans may remember Gene Barry best for his role as Dr. Clayton Forrester in the George Pal classic The War of the Worlds.

BARRY MORSE: I had almost forgotten his name!

CATHERINE SCHELL: Mercifully blacked out. Anyway, I noticed that Gene Barry's got photographic shops. Oh, he did in 1987, when I was here the last time. I saw these photographic shops you'd go in to have your film developed or whatever, and there were these cubicles with "Gene Barry, Gene Barry." He deserved to work out of cubicles.

JOHN MUIR: Well, I thought what we would do, Ms. Schell, if it's okay with you is -- I know these folks are going to want to ask you a lot of questions, but I thought maybe a good thing to do to start out, since I am so excited to see you, is that I could ask you a couple of questions first. Many people don't know this, but Catherine Schell was the first celebrity that I interviewed. I was not long out of college, I didn't know what I was doing, and she was just the most gracious, wonderful, giving person. She spent so much time with me on the phone. She asked me about my life, where I was, who I was...

CATHERINE SCHELL: I was interviewing him because I was writing a book about him...

JOHN MUIR: I hope not. But I felt we would do a little Q&A first, then if you would like to say anything to the audience, or you'd like to take questions from the audience -- however you'd like to do this. But I'm going to fulfill a personal fantasy, and I am going to (being a red-blooded American man) I am going to ask her to first speak about "Guardian of Piri," the first episode she guested on in Space: 1999, where she was the temptress of the stars, the seductress, the siren. Specifically, I wanted to ask you about the dress and how you felt about the dress.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Well, it's so funny because Keith [Wilson] is in the other room, and he is the one who obviously designed the dress. When I was offered the part, we had a meeting, and he said "I have to design this thing that will make you look--" I told him all of my bad parts. I said, "I've got hips, and I haven't got a lot of boobs, and I don't really like the tops of my arms very much." I said, "my neck is pretty good, one of my good pieces -- I've got a long neck." So I said, "perhaps you could do something on that." Necks are not glamorous. I was so amazed that when he put me in this costume -- That's another thing -- I tend to have a kind of straight figure, I don't have a bottle-glass figure, so I said, "Could you do something where you don't see that the waistline isn't 22 inches and the hips 36 or whatever; it tends to be 22-22-22 all the way down."

So, when he actually put me into the costume, I couldn't believe that he had made a point of all of my bad points. The waistline was shown, the small boobs were, and the neck was covered by this thing that - well, you know.

JOHN MUIR: I doubt there are many people who agree with your description of your so-called "bad qualities," because I don't think you have any. But when we spoke many years ago, you talked to me a little bit about your reservations about playing a robot, and essentially, the Servant of the Guardian, how to play sort of sexy, but also that you were a robot and you felt that the director did not like what you were doing. It was actually a fairly difficult role. Would you like to talk about that?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Well, the way I saw it was that robots, I don't that in the future, they would be very emotional, so it was a very flat performance. There was no depth to it. I had the feeling that people thought, "she can't bloody act!" But I hope that, in the end, when you realized that it was a robot, that is why you know why the way that she spoke was not natural. There was a depth behind the form, though I never saw it myself. I don't know whether it worked.

JOHN MUIR: You've never seen "Guardian of Piri"?


JOHN MUIR: Is it being shown at the convention, does anybody know?

CATHERINE SCHELL: I never saw the whole episode.

JOHN MUIR: Well, I don't want to come off like a fawning fan, but it really is a great episode. [Holds up a photograph of Catherine Schell in her "Guardian of Piri" costume.] This is selling all over the convention.

CATHERINE SCHELL: See -- big waist.

JOHN MUIR: Not at all.

CATHERINE SCHELL: This is exactly the thing I didn't want to look like.

JOHN MUIR: She doesn't realize that we all have a copy of that photo. In the last day, they've sold that out and have had to reprint it. Catherine, we'd like to know: When you got to the sets of Space: 1999 -- what was your feeling being there, on "Guardian of Piri," when you walked in. Can you tell us what it was like?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes. I had never seen something so bizarre in my life. I have to say, my mouth was agape. I mean, it was just so straight, with all these balls, and I didn't know how that would convey onto the screen. I'm told it conveyed beautifully, but that was Keith's work. He had the imagination. Actors don't always have that same kind of imagination: we do something else. But I have to say, I thought "this is either going to be the biggest disaster ever, or it's going to be a fine film."

JOHN MUIR: Okay, so a year passed. This had been a guest shot to do the first season of Space: 1999. I guess about a year passed, and you got a call on a Sunday. Can you tell us how your continued association came about?

CATHERINE SCHELL: I got a call Sunday night from my... it wasn't my agent; agents never ring on Sunday. I got a call from Gerry Anderson, I'm pretty sure, direct. He wanted to see me. He wanted to speak about doing another series, and he sent the Rolls to come and pick me up. He has a house in the country, and I went to see him out in the country, and that's when he actually said, "We are doing another series. We are introducing another character, and we would be very interested if you were to play that character. It's the character of an alien." Of course the only alien I had seen until then was Mister Spock with the long ears, and I just said "no ears." You know, it just sort-of developed from there. Yes, okay, it's interesting. It's always a risk to play a part like that, because it could be fairly difficult to find a job afterwards for a long time, because people identify you with that part. He was terribly keen— we talked about the makeup. He said to me, "go home," — I can draw — and he said, "go home and think about the makeup, think about how different you would want to be. Having explained to me, of course, that this has to do with Barbara [Bain].

Barbara was very against my doing the part because we are very similar. Obviously, I'm younger than she is, but as types, we are similar. She was looking for an Asian girl or an African girl, someone who could really never be confused with her, so that these two women were completely alien to each other. But the production side wanted me to do this, and so obviously I was going to have to look incredibly different, and I don't know what happened to this drawing, because the drawing disappeared. I made a drawing for Gerry and it is very similar to what the makeup eventually turned out to be. Keith had made her add the octopod eyebrows, but in the picture, it looked like fuzz that had been put on my head. It was a thing about doing animals -- pigmentation, different pigmentations, looking almost like a badger or pandas. That would be my idea, to do something like that. So, in the end, a lot of that is what you see. In the drawing, I even did a little whisker, my neck was completely dark and my ears were dark. Now as you remember, in the first episode, my ears are dark. The American producers said, "clean her ears up... she looks dirty!" So, the make up to the ears went, we didn't do the throat anymore, and instead of pigment here [points to forehead] we had a little piece of hair — that was fox, the animal. So anyway, when I gave him this picture, he was really amazed. "You mean you would change yourself to that degree?" Oh -- this is important -- stars in my eyes. The pupils were stars, and I worked for a whole month trying to wear piggy-backed contact lenses, soft lenses and hard lenses on the top, with the stars, and my eyes could never take it. The moment light would shine in my eyes, my eyes would cry.

Anyway, he was quite surprised at how far I would go to actually change my look. Then, we did the test with Keith, and he added peacock multi-colored, then he did the octopods all over my face, and we said, "if you want acne to become popular, then perhaps this is a good idea." So, we compromised, and that's where the eyebrows came in.

JOHN MUIR: There was a prominent TV critic here in America who said that Maya was the only woman to ever look sexy in sideburns, so that was a sort of innovative look for an alien at that time, to have the widow's peak and the coming up here. So the ears, actually — like you said — they thought they looked dirty.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, brown ears. That's only in the first episode.

JOHN MUIR: Now, you told me that you got on very well with your fellow cast members, but I thought maybe we could ask about maybe a couple, just about what you remember about the relationships, for instance, Tony Anholt. Certainly, Maya and Tony had the romantic relationship in the second season. How did that go, and how did that work between actors.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Well, Tony and I just had jokes together. There was never a scene that we were actually racy, but we had this little joking relationship. This relationship continued off the set as well. The lovely thing about doing that series was that we had a lot of laughs. Everybody laughed a lot. I wish I could dig the dirt, but there's nothing more interesting. I don't remember moments of conflict, though things may have been happening off the set. But on the set, we all greeted each other happily in the morning at makeup. I thought some of the fellows were far more vain than the women were. My makeup took less time than Tony's, and Tony and Nick [Tate] made many comparisons with each other's hair: "Should I put a little brown pencil on this balding spot here?" It was quite interesting, to watch the vanity.

JOHN MUIR: When you were talking about having laughs, that reminds of me where there was the episode, the rock story, as you know -- "All That Glisters" [Pained look on Catherine's face, laughter from audience.] I understand there was some laughter on the set, is that correct?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, and I would have to be actually shouted at, very rudely, before I would stop laughing. It was like a cold shower. (At least I hope the writer's not here... I don't know who wrote that script.) There were things we had to say that were so unbelievable for us. If you're really into the part and you're trying to say something with conviction, and then you realize that there is always a monster on your shoulder saying "this is rubbish." [Laughter from audience.] I wept. It was actually worse than working with Peter Sellers, and I laughed. I can't remember the name of the director...

JOHN MUIR: Ray Austin.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, Ray Austin. Absolutely, it was Ray. He really shouted at me: "Catherine! Be professional!" -- "I am, that's why I'm laughing!"

JOHN MUIR: That was fairly early in the filming. Was that the second or third week on the set?

CATHERINE SCHELL: No, it was fairly late. I would have never been kept around with that kind of behavior.

JOHN MUIR: What was happening was that you were supposed to be looking to an eagle that was not on-screen that was flying up and then sort of flying down, and you had to say, "it's going up, it's going down."

CATHERINE SCHELL: No, it was a piece of rock. It was a piece of rock that was changing before our eyes or whatever: we say "it's doing this, it's going up, it's going down, it's gone green, no it's gone read..." And when you knew what you were saying, and knew what you were supposed to be looking at, what you were conveying. Writer...

JOHN MUIR: I think that's the thing people like to hear as far as what was going on, you know, on the set. How did you do it?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Perhaps you'll see it today, if you ever see that episode, because really, there are still creases in all of our faces, and we're actually turning our faces from the cameras because we didn't want to cameras to see us laughing. I'm sure Martin [Landau] was in this one, and Tony [Anholt] -- I think maybe Nick was even in it the three of us became totally hysterical. Anyway, it was a good afternoon.

JOHN MUIR: You also shared with me that at one point, Fred Freiberger had asked you into his office and mentioned the possibility that Maya would go off into a spin-off series. Could you just tell us a little bit about what really happened?

CATHERINE SCHELL: It wasn't only Freddy, it was also Gerry. The two of them mentioned the fact that there is this thought that they would do a spin-off on the Maya character, which would have been obviously very interesting for me, but the conversation was really about, "what would happen, what do you think, would you want to do it?" Yes! Of course. Then, they were very sweet, because I was with an agent at the time who was really a small time agent, and when I received the contract to be signed, I had to send it back twice because I thought there were mistakes in the contract. "They're having me here, and I'm only being paid for so many episodes, and I know it takes two weeks to do each episode, so that means there are two episodes being done back-to-back, so anyway...

JOHN MUIR: If it was about Maya, you'd have certainly been taken off Moonbase Alpha, out of the family so to speak, where the character developed such great relationships.

CATHERINE SCHELL: It was in such the beginning of the planning stages. There were no scripts involved. It was just a theory of, if there was some interest, perhaps we could do this, then obviously outlines of where it would go and whatever, but we never really discussed it theoretically.

JOHN MUIR: I don't want to hog all the action here. I know people are dying to ask questions, of you, so if it's okay, I'll hand over the mike to you and let you work with the audience. Anybody just like to raise their hands to ask questions of Ms. Schell?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You said you were worried about not getting another acting job after this series?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, absolutely. I did not work for a long time. I didn't work for well over a year after the series. I guess I am just trying to think of what I did after that.

JOHN MUIR: The Doctor Who episode "City of Death" with John Cleese.

CATHERINE SCHELL: But that was two years after the series. Then, in 1979, I did another film with Peter Sellers, The Prisoner of Zenda -- [one person applauds]

You remember the [chicken clucking sounds] — you know, that was my idea. The producer came up with me and says, "Catherine, you have to meet in the forest and you have to make noises, animal noises. Can you do an owl?" "No." "Well, what kind of noises can you do?" I said, "I can do a chicken." He says, "All right, do me a chicken." So I did a chicken just like that and he said, "That's not bad." So, they went running to Peter and said, "Peter, can you do chicken noises," so Peter had to try. That was another moment when I had to be shouted at that. There is a close-up of me, and I know I am dressed incredibly elegantly, with wonderful makeup. There's this woman going bu-u-uck-buck-buck-buck and I knew how funny that would look, so I kept laughing. The producer was standing there, "Catherine! Be professional!" I am told it is a very funny scene. You see, I never saw the film either. I am told that it's very funny, with these crazy people running like chickens, making chicken noises in the middle of a forest. What are chickens doing in a forest?

JOHN MUIR: You don't like to watch your own work?


JOHN MUIR: Did you see On Her Majesty's Secret Service?

CATHERINE SCHELL: I saw that years later, when it was out on the television. The one film that I was forced to see was Return of the Pink Panther because I was there sitting in the audience at the first showing with the press, so I had to see it. I just go into a terrible depression and it's awful. So why torture yourself?

When we started doing Space, Martin and Barbara went to rushes every night, and they forced me -- "C'mon, Catherine, you've got to go" -- so I thought that if I was really being professional, I have to go watch myself. I walked out totally depressed. "I don't know why you're doing it. Why are you doing it? What are you learning from it?" Of course, Barbara was learning about the best camera angles, what to do when you're -- [At this point, Catherine poses herself like a marionette to lampoon Barbara Bain's way of holding herself, turning her whole body instead of just her head, and holding her hands up so she would not have to be photographed below the elbows. The audience applauds wildly.] Sorry, Barbara! That's what you go to rushes for. I mean, you should try to be as natural as you can, so tough.

JOHN MUIR: It's the opposite of the acting process. It kind of limits you.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, because you're looking at yourself. Some people love to see themselves on the screen. I see myself on the screen and I hate my voice, I hate myself on the screen. I would never go see that person on the screen. I don't know why people pay me to do this. It's a torture for me, and I wouldn't learn from it. I learn more from the theater, because you don't see yourself in the theater. If you're doing a stage play, and you know that a line was delivered badly on one performance, you know you can correct it the following day. You think about it. "Oh, my timing was completely wrong there." You can't do that when you're doing television or film, because it's finished, gone, unless you have the power to say, "we're going to do a re-shoot -- I didn't like the way I said that. I didn't like the way I looked that way, or the way I was photographed." So, it's a waste of time actually. I think it actually harms.

JOHN MUIR: Would you say that Maya was such a warm, bubbly, vivacious character, and if I may presume, you're almost a kind of shy person to some extent. Are you just incredibly modest that you don't like to see yourself? How did you get into acting if you're so tentative about seeing yourself on the screen?

CATHERINE SCHELL: I didn't think that was part of the acting. That wasn't part of my job, to watch myself. My job was to present myself. My job is to present what has been written for me, in whatever capacity I can do it. My job is not to watch myself.

JOHN MUIR: So your work ends when you finish the shoot?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Absolutely. My work ends at the end of the day. I go home. It's like whatever jobs you do: you're in an office, you do this, you do that. As far as I am concerned, I leave the studio, and other than studying my lines for the following day or whatever, my day has ended. I mean, it's a job, or it was. I am doing something else now.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How long did it take to do the episode "Guardian of Piri?"

CATHERINE SCHELL: There was a two-week schedule, fifty minutes. Fifty minutes normally takes two weeks, six days in a week. That would have been twelve days. I don't know whether I was shooting every day of that, but that is normally what is scheduled for 50-minute television. Yes, absolutely— there were two weeks. They do them a little bit faster today, depending sometimes they now do fifty minutes in ten days.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What are your thoughts on being in one of the best Bond films?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Did you consider it one of the best? You know, they're doing a remake, and it's not with George Lazenby. It's not with Catherine Schell either.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I appreciate it now because they're very different, in terms of that they're more --

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, they were more emotional. I think that's why they're redoing it. They're doing a remake of it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What were your thoughts on George Lazenby as a director. Did you enjoy yourself?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Not a lot. [Laughter] He was fine. He wasn't meant, actually, for that part. It wasn't right for him at all.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Knowing that you're getting laughing over some of the lines of dialog, like you talked about a lot of times when you had to set your body posture into whatever kind of animal you would be transforming into, like it ended up with a leopard or tiger leaping or something. Did you find that difficult to get down for the first time?

CATHERINE SCHELL: That's interesting that you would say that. Does it look funny?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, it doesn't.

CATHERINE SCHELL: I didn't find that funny. I found that quite a challenge. I rather liked doing it.

JOHN MUIR: We could tell that you put yourself right into it.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes. I mean, I don't know what I did for the mouse. Did I shrink? I remember the leopard, I remember doing that. That was something where I had to trust the director as well, because obviously if you do that, it's pretty funny. You could be making a fool of yourself. It was up to the director to actually do it and go to photograph me in such a way that it was realistic.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How did you get along with Martin Landau? I personally love the episode where you kissed. I kind of wish that you and him had gotten together. Did you get along well personally?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Yes, yes. Absolutely. We were great mates, and we laughed a great deal together. You know, it was a pleasure to work with them, and when we finished, we kept in contact. He used to come to London quite often and he always rang us and we would meet up. When I went to Los Angeles, we would meet up with him, so that contact remained. I am very disappointed that he was not able to come. I was really looking forward to seeing him. I haven't seen him now for about twelve years.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Could you talk about the one where you ate the plants and they were life forms -- "The Rules of Luton." There were the three aliens on the planet. You spoke about Maya's brother, and Koenig talks about his wife...

CATHERINE SCHELL: I had a brother? And Martin had a first wife?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: She was killed in a world war, and he talked about racism, and Maya was horrified. She says, "People killed people because they were different? That's disgusting."

CATHERINE SCHELL: I'm sorry, I do not remember this at all.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It was filmed out in the countryside.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Ahh, there was one. There were very few that we did external shots. There was one that was in, like, a gravel pit. Was that it?


CATHERINE SCHELL: Birds... I had to be a hawk or something like that. The only reason I remember that is because we were all so ill when we did that. So I remember it as we were working with 104º fever. England was suffering -- oh, god -- a drought and heat wave that had hardly ever existed before. Working in the studios, which were obviously air conditioned, and going home or just coming from work. The differences in temperature all the time. Everybody came down with a terrible, terrible flu. Some of us had pneumonia and we were working, so I remember that one, because we were having to film outside and we were sweating like everything. Everybody was terribly sick. That's all I remember about it: I don't remember what I had to say, I'm afraid. I'm sorry.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What was it like working with Gerry Anderson?

CATHERINE SCHELL: Well, it was a civilized business in England. Nobody takes guns to work, so I think everybody behaved, certainly superficially. We behaved terribly well toward each other, and I have to say, I never had any problem with Gerry at all, as I didn't with Freddy. There was never a moment of an argument. Things went more sour afterwards, but certainly not while we were working together. You never knew -- the actors behaved terribly well. There was never a single moment of temperament. I know that there were other stories, but we didn't speak to each other about them. I know Zienia [Merton] had a lot of problems, which I had no idea about.

MICHAEL FARIES (SPACE1999.ORG): First of all, thank you for coming all the way transatlantic...


The one question I have is, every actor has an interpretation of the character. Did you feel that the producers and the writers were able to convey what you wanted from Maya? Did you have ideas that were never implemented for Maya?

CATHERINE SCHELL: In a way, yes. There were some things that I talked about with Freddy to make it just a little more imaginative. I was thinking of things of the future, where people would never wear glasses: there would be something that we do today -- ear implants that we would be able to hear much better. These things could be picked up eventually in the future, seeing humans behave with instincts which animals have, which we were born with anyway, which we would have been born with because we're animals, but our science has actually stopped us from developing the instinctive things that we have, the telepathy we might have between us, so we talked on those types of subjects that people from another planet, perhaps Maya, would still have these instincts— that would not have been over-developed. That is, something could have been placed on top of it, if you know what I mean. We wear glasses. Cows don't wear glasses. Horses don't wear glasses. Dogs don't wear glasses. They have other senses that take over when one sense begins to wane, and we have stopped developing that because it is easier to put glasses on, easier to wear hearing aids, so we haven't developed the senses the way we actually should have. These are the things that I talked to him about.

Also, I was very disappointed in all the monsters. I mean, why always monsters, all these old, great hairy apes. There could have been far more interesting things. If you think there is life on another planet, then it would not be much different to life on earth, because we would have all developed. There's the planet that's been discovered recently -- Europa? There's life. They think there might be life on Europa, and it seems to be in that state of development, that some day they might find the beginnings of life. Well, it would have developed the same way that it did on earth. So all these monsters you see from outer space -- why? They should have been more, okay, so the gorilla rules on another planet, but don't make it so different to what we know is life. I mean, have the unicorn. Why don't you do a unicorn? On a planet there might be a unicorn? [Mimicking Freddy] "That sounds like a different idea, I think we'll forget about that one..."

Most of the scripts had originally been done anyway, and all the outlined scripts had been done. There is very little that actors can do once they're doing the part of changing it. If there is another series, then you can have long discussions of how you want to change, how you see something developing, but it's almost too late.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Something I was unaware was that you were up for the role or Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, that you had submitted your resume for the part of Kathryn Janeway.

CATHERINE SCHELL: Kathryn Janeway? Who's--

AUDIENCE MEMBER: She's the captain on Voyager.

JOHN MUIR: I remember, I said, you know they're casting a new series and you would be terrific as the captain. You said, "I was up for that, my agent--" This was seven seasons ago...

CATHERINE SCHELL: That's a long time ago. Yes, there was something my agent put me up for. I never saw the series, so obviously I didn't get the part.

JOHN MUIR: You would have been wonderful. Is there anyway you can tell them the story of your meeting with Fellini. They have never heard that one.

CATHERINE SCHELL: My agent telephoned me to tell me that I had an interview with Fellini, who was waiting for me at a particular hotel. Everything got confused. A, I knew Fellini liked very strange people and he cast very strange people, and I thought, ‘he won't want to see me, I'm far too straight,' so I had to do something to myself. I have a girlfriend who dresses very bizarrely. So I borrowed shoes with enormous heels that I was not used to wearing, and I wore very strange make-up and jewelry in my hair. My hair is naturally curly, but I would never wear it like that. I used to have great arguments with them, "straighten it, straighten it," so anyway I looked very odd. I went to a hotel for the meeting and I actually looked a bit like a tart. Unbeknownst to me, I picked this hotel— in the lobby, a few of these people of the night had gathered to, you know, make a bit of money, and I think he thought I was one of those. So I went up to him rather brazenly and said, "I'm here to see Fellini," and he said, "oh, yes, madam, you just sit there."

I remember having to wait ages and ages, and I think I was smoking. I put a plant alight. It was a rubber plant, not a proper plant. Anyway, I don't remember the entire story, except that it was a complete disaster. In the end, Fellini was waiting for me in an office that he was borrowing for this production, and I was waiting at the hotel. The whole thing fell to pieces, and I never met Fellini. He left the following day, so I obviously never got the part. [Pouting:] And I tried so hard.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you have any favorites among the episodes you made?

CATHERINE SCHELL: I don't know them anymore! I can't choose. I would have to see them all and say, "oh, yes, I like that one, and…" I don't know. I can't say. I suppose if I see them again, I would think, "Oh, yes, that was a fun one to do." It was so long ago -- 1976. Some of you weren't born yet, I bet! How dare you be so you be so young?! Is that it? I have to go get a glass of wine.

JOHN MUIR: [Offers a glass of water.]

CATHERINE SCHELL: Oh, no, no -- that's okay. Wine is better.

You know, an edition came out of something like "The 200 Worst Films Ever Made." And I am proud to say that I am on the back cover of this particular edition wearing a space-suit and looking horrified (what you could see of my face beyond the space suit), with a big bubble coming out of my mouth saying… There is a joke, but I can't do it because it's a little bit naughty.

JOHN MUIR and AUDIENCE MEMBER: [Encourages her to go ahead and tell it.]

CATHERINE SCHELL: There's a joke: "I know who I had to fuck to get on this picture, who do I fuck to get off?" [Laughter, applause.] On the balloon, it just says, "What do I have to do to get off this picture?" Not as good as the original joke. But I'm proud of that actually! I remember hitting Warren Mitchell rather heavily with a space helmet. I had never done any action until then. I had done romantic things or whatever, but I had never had to do a violent action until then. Warren Mitchell was a baddie in it: he is quite a tough character. I had to try and get away from him, so I take the space helmet which I'm holding in my hand and I whack him in the stomach, and I meant it! He went bwaaaah! Oh, Jesus, I'm supposed to be acting -- I'm not supposed to do these things for real! He says, "Warn me next time!" It was fine, quite a fun film to do.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What was it like working with James Olson?

CATHERINE SCHELL: James Olson? Very nice. Very, very nice. He used to run to work. He used to get out of his car -- we filmed it at Elstree, and there are two roundabouts before you get to Elstree, and he would get off at the first roundabout, which meant that he had a good ten miles, almost, to run. I used to wonder, "Why is this man arriving in the morning all sweaty? He just got out of bed!" That's why: he used to run to work. Do you know anything of him? I've seen him in things for a while.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: He's done theater.

CATHERINE SCHELL: I haven't seen him in a long time now. Okay, I'll take one more question, then I will take a glass of wine.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you remember working with Edward Woodward on...

CATHERINE SCHELL: Ed Woo-woo-woo-woo-wood. Can I tell you something rude about him, as much as I like Eddie because he's adorable. His name -- you know what we called him in England? He's "a fart in a bath." "Ed-wood-wood-wood-wood-wood-wood- wood..." Oh, we're awful, aren't we?

JOHN MUIR: That's what we're here to hear.

CATHERINE SCHELL: What was the question?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you remember working with Edward Woodward on Callan. I understand it's one of the most exciting car chases.

CATHERINE SCHELL: That's right -- and I was in it most of the time, actually. They couldn't afford a stand-in, so "do your own stunt, Catherine -- get in the car!"

JOHN MUIR: They all must got tired of seeing the space helmet...

CATHERINE SCHELL: Well, I was wearing the space helmet in the car for protection. That's right. I don't know whether the film was terribly good though.

JOHN MUIR: Let's give a big hand to Catherine Schell...


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