SPACE 1999

At the time, this was the most expensive TV Series ever to have been produced for British TV, and it was essential viewing for sci-fi fans - I certainly remember that this was the talk of the playground at primary school.
1999 was only 24 years away, but as a child that seemed like an eternity, and the series really gave us the notion that we would all be living in space by then. You have to remember that the last moon landing had taken place only three years before the series started, so it was still fresh on many people's minds. Of course, the reality is that some 40 odd years later we are still very much living on Earth.
The series was very much of its time, from the bell-bottomed uniforms and 70s furniture to the scrappy science, although, it has to be said, it has aged better than expected. The sets were certainly more realistic than the low budget offerings on Doctor Who, and it was far better than watching puppets in space.
Talking of which. Space 1999 was the last production by the legendary Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who were also responsible for the 1960s sci-fi puppet shows Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Stringray and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
Two series were created and they were originally shown from 1975 to 1977. The setting is Moonbase Alpha, a research centre on Earth's moon. Humans have been storing vast amounts of nuclear waste on the far side of the moon, and in the opening episode "Breakaway" (set on Sept 9th 1999) we see a massive explosion caused by the build up of waste which pushes the moon out of its orbit, sending it and the 311 personnel on Alpha hurtling out of control into space.  
After the moon leaves our solar system, it passes through a black hole and through a couple of space warps, sending the crew further into deep space.
The series premiered in some regions on ITV on Thursday 4th September 1975 at 7pm. However, in the London and Anglia regions, this was delayed until Saturday 6th at 5.50pm. The Granada region didn't broadcast the first episode until Friday 26th September at 7.35pm. The last area to see the first episode was HTV, and the poor viewers in this region had to wait until October - this must've been pretty frustrating for sci-fi fanatics!
Space 1999 titles from series 1
Watching the first episode again for the first time since the 1970s brings back a lot of memories, and the multiple explosions are actually pretty impressive for a 70s sci-fi series.
48 episodes were made in total, with 24 in each series. The plot revolved around the personnel on Alpha (the Alphans) and their encounters with aliens, a parallel universe, and undesirable societies, as well as issues with mortality and loneliness. The two main stars of the series were husband and wife Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who had previously worked together in the 1960s spy fiction series Mission: Impossible.
Sylvia Anderson objected to the use of American actors and wanted a purely British cast. However, Lew Grade, one of the founders of the show's distributor ITC Entertainment insisted that the couple would be used.  
There were also regular guest appearances by well-known actors throughout the two series. These included Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ian McShane and Patrick Troughton, to name but a few. 

Main Characters

Doctor Helena Russell, Head of Medical Section - Barbara Bain - 48 episodes

Commander John Koenig - Martin Landau - 47 episodes

Alan Carter, Chief Pilot - Nick Tate - 45 episodes

Sandra Benes, Data Analyst - Ziena Merton - 37 episodes

Professor Victor Bergman, Science Adviser - Barry Morse - 24 episodes

Maya, Science Officer - Catherine Schell - 24 episodes

Doctor Bob Mathias, Deputy Medical Officer - Anton Phillips - 24 episodes

Paul Morrow, Main Mission Controller - Prentis Hancock - 23 episodes

David Kano, Computer Operations Officer - Clifton Jones - 23 episodes

Tony Verdeschi, Head of Security and Command Centre - Tony Anholt - 23 episodes

Tanya Alexander, Base Operations Officer - Suzanne Roquette - 19 episodes

Bill Fraser, Eagle Pilot - John Hug - 9 episodes

Doctor Ben Vincent, Deputy Medical Officer - Jeffery Kissoon - 7 episodes

Doctor Ed Spencer, Medical Officer - Sam Dastor - 3 episodes

Alibe, Data Analyst - Alibe Parsons - 3 episodes

Barbara Bain as Doctor Helena Russell in Space 1999
Martin Landau as Commander John Koenig in Space 1999
Many of the visuals and scenery used in Space 1999 were inspired by the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The special effects were directed by Brian Johnson who had previously worked on the Thunderbirds series. A mix of detailed scale models (created by model maker Martin Bower) and full size props were used. Johnson and his team would later provide special effects for the movies Alien and The Empire Strikes Back.
The moonbase uniforms were created by a friend of Barbara Bain, the Austrian fashion designer and gay activist Rudi Gernreich. Some outfits were designed by Keith Wilson who also designed the sets. The uniforms became more colourful for the second series and included trendy turtlenecks and new badges. There was also the addition of different coloured jackets, and the females wore skirts and knee high boots rather than flared trousers.
The theme music and opening titles were changed for series two, and became somewhat more dramatic.
Overall, this was an above average sci-fi series and one that I am finding enjoyable to watch again in 2017. The effects are still impressive enough, and it's interesting to delve back into the naive 1970s vision of what the future might just look like.