- Homage to the Space: 1999 science fiction series.
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Features: Ask Brian Johnson

Brian's responses

The following answers were posted 6 September 2001. Your questions can be sent here. Please take advantage of this unique opportunity to communicate with Mr. Johnson!

In your opinion, which is the best episode (or episodes) of Space: 1999?

If pushed, I prefer the first series to the second and so of those I guess that "War Games" [ directed by the sadly late, wonderful Charles Chrichton] has my vote. That is when I feel like a shoot-em-up type of show [ lots of bangs and things], otherwise I like "Collision Course" with the incomparable Margaret Leighton. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that the whole first series was pretty good. The second series in my view for various reasons was not so well conceived.

My question for Mr. Johnson is about all the filming for Space: 1999 that did not make it into the show. Is any of that still around? Also, what happened to all the storyboards that you used for your film shots?

When we started the series we had to produce approximately 50-65 shots per episode [11 days shooting time] and as many of these were multiple exposures on one original negative we had almost no overages, merely held takes of identical action, other than hi-speed footage of explosions/crashes etc., using two cameras usually. All the out-takes would have been held at Denham Labs for a time and then probably used as film leader [negative perf] Gerry Anderson would not have held on to anything that required payment longer than was necessary! Producers are not wasters of time or money!

I have recently moved house and discovered a large wooden box [ILM made] full of my '99 scripts and a large number of story boards and sketches, etc., hidden away in a workshop store. If anyone is interested, I might publish a list of items that might be for sale. (Editor's note: We imagine everyone is! We'll post a notice as soon as Mr. Johnson is ready.)

I recently completed scratch building a model of the "Meta Probe" in the same scale as the 12" Eagle. I used two b&w pictures that showed you holding the original model. My question is this: If you can recall what happened to that model and how can I get more pictures of it?

Because I went on to do a load of very busy movies I have no idea what happened to any of the models used on the show other than one 44" Eagle. Many of the models were fairly fragile and would have fallen apart with time. Martin Bower, who was just out of school, made some of the models and was notorious for using the wrong glue and even when we were shooting, Terry Reed would be gluing bits back on! I think we modified the Meta Probe for a different programme altogether ["Into Infinity" - a pilot for another TV series] which was still born.

The EAGLE SPACECRAFT, I noticed, had four windows. Two were for Pilot, Co-Pilot. What were the bottom two for? Mapping Cameras? Instruments? Or were they solid?

When I came up with the original idea I did envisage all four windows with crew looking out. As the production got under way it was obvious that there was no need for the inverted positions, however I liked the symmetry and left it alone. They were solid. If you look at the Hawks in "War Games" you will see that I only used two windows in that design. I have somewhere a concept sketch of what the Eagles would have looked like for a possible third series and that has a two window set up.

(Answers to your questions for Mr. Johnson will continue to be posted. You can submit them here.)

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