Space: 1999 (ITC Entertainment, 1975–1977) was a British science-fiction television show about the journey of the occupants of a Moon base after the Moon is knocked out of orbit by a nuclear explosion. The series was produced by Sylvia and Gerry Anderson, famous for the TV series Thunderbirds and UFO.
Space: 1999 was the first attempt since the demise of Star Trek in 1969 at producing a large-scale weekly science fiction series, and the show drew a great deal of visual inspiration (and technical expertise) from the Stanley Kubrick classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. The show's special effects director Brian Johnson had in fact previously worked on both Thunderbirds (as Brian Johncock) and 2001.
It was the last in a long line of successful science-fiction series that the Andersons produced as a couple, beginning with Supercar in the early Sixties and including the famed marionette fantasy series Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 and the gritty live-action alien-invasion drama UFO. The Andersons' marriage fell apart and their partnership dissolved during production of Space: 1999, although Gerry Anderson has continued to produce TV series into 2005.
Much of the visual design for Space: 1999 was originally intended for a never-made second series of UFO which would have featured an expanded Moonbase. When this fell through the ideas were used for Space: 1999 instead.
The stars were American actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who were married at the time and had previously appeared together in Mission: Impossible. Also starring were Barry Morse (as Professor Victor Bergman
in the first season) and Catherine Schell (as the alien Maya
in the second season). The series also made Australian actor Nick Tate quite popular. There were guest appearances by the likes of Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ian McShane and Brian Blessed.
The special effects in the show were highly regarded. The show featured many well designed and intricate scale models including the Eagle, a lunar shuttle. Special effects director Brian Johnson and most of his team went on to work on Ridley Scott's Alien, followed by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Dozens of models for the various alien spaceships, along with the Mark IX Hawk from the "War Games" episode, were built by model maker Martin Bower, who would later also work on Alien, the 1980 production of Flash Gordon and Outland.
Costumes for the first season were designed by Rudi Gernreich.
The opening credits for the first season featured a dramatic fanfare composed by Barry Gray; it was Gray's final composition for Anderson.
The series premiered in 1975, although the first episode had actually been filmed in 1973. Live action was filmed at Pinewood Studios and special effects at Bray Studios. There were two seasons of 24 episodes each made by Gerry Anderson for ITC Entertainment. The first season was co-produced by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI. In Britain the series was originally seen on ITV stations but never simulcast nationally. In the US it was syndicated.
The series was reportedly broadcast in 96 countries, mostly between 1975 and 1979. The series was shown in Italy as Spazio: 1999, France as Cosmos: 1999, Denmark as Månebase Alpha, Portugal as Espaço: 1999, Brazil as Espaço: 1999, Germany as Mondbasis Alpha 1, Spain as Espacio: 1999, Sweden as Månbas Alpha 1999, Poland as Kosmos 1999, Finland as Avaruusasema Alfa and Argentina as Cosmos 1999. The series was also broadcast in 1976 in South Africa as Alpha 1999, dubbed into Afrikaans by Leephy Atlejees in Johannesburg.
Countries where the show was popular include South Africa, Turkey, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Taiwan. One of the first previews of the series was in Australia on the Seven Network in July 1975, but the station later split the first series into two seasons. The second season was shown in 1979.
In the UK, the episodes of the show's second season were shown sporadically over a period of a couple of years, starting in 1976 while the last episodes still in production. In some regions the final first-run episodes appeared in 1978, more than a year after they were produced; in other regions of the UK, the second series was never shown. In many countries, including the US, UK and Germany, individual episodes were cut to reduce the running time.
- From Wikipedia