Of course it's a Space Vacation. Given that the people of 2063 are even more obsessed with space than the people of, well, of 1963, what other kind of vacation could it be? (I wonder if holiday resorts on earth are still forlornly trying to get the punters in, like holiday camps after everyone started going on cheap package tours). The location for the Fireball XL5 crew's holiday is the tropical paradise planet Olympus (introduced to us with the music of a steel band), the inhabitants of which are at war with the people of barren, storm-lashed Kemble. Enwhosiasts may like to note that Space Vacation is written by cult TV legend Dennis Spooner, who later co-wrote the Doctor Who story The Daleks' Masterplan (with his fellow Hancock writer Terry Nation), featuring a planet called Kembel.
As is usually the case, we only meet two of the razor-cheekboned Olympian people - the planet's ruler, Jankel, and his son Ergon (another name with Doctor Who associations, but ones best not gone into). Here they are, looking... Olympian. Jankel has a sort of Mexican bandit voice, whereas Ergon has a cod West Indian accent. Neither really goes with their appearance.
Ergon's birthday's coming up, and Jankel's hit on the ideal way to celebrate: inviting his archenemy Kanerick, ruler of Kemble, to a birthday meal and planting a bomb behind his chair. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't seem to be quite what Ergon would have chosen. Kanerick, meanwhile, has his own similarly wicked plans.
Also invited to the birthday meal are Steve Zodiac, Venus and Prof Matt Matic, who are busy getting ready for their holiday. What an ideal opportunity for sexist jibes about how much Venus is packing.
|"Women! Never did understand 'em!"|
|I'd guess this is from the Value range|
The meal doesn't go how Jankel would have wished though - Kanerick doesn't get blown up, but the elixir of life he gives to Ergon turns out to be a deadly poison. How brutally ironic.
The only person who might be able to save Ergon is Venus (described here as not just a Space Doctor but a Doctor of Space Medicine), but she's been kidnapped by Kanerick and imprisoned in his strange puppet S&M dungeon on Kemble.
Jankel, in turn, holds Matt hostage until Steve can bring back Venus and the cure for Ergon. Will he be able to save all the various people who need saving from something or other? Well, yes. The episode ends happily, with the people of Kemble moving to the more pleasant Olympia and the two races putting aside their differences at Ergon's behest. "He's got more sense than both of you tooties put together," Steve sagely advises the two leaders. However, once the Fireballers depart the pair continue to spring nasty surprises on each other.
You can watch Space Vacation here if you want (you should, it's very entertaining).
Now hush please, as ITV's most prestigious drama series makes its TV Minus 50 debut. Or as, the show's announcer puts it: "And now, for your Sunday night dramatic entertainment, we bring you - Armchair Theatre."
|This is not a very good picture of Carroll Baker. It looks more like Mrs McClusky from Grange Hill.|
|"You're the only one, Baby"|
|I think they might be trying to say she's narcissistic|
Constantly washing down pills with champagne, Lena's a woman on the verge if ever there was one. The Paradise Suite sees her experiencing brief encounters with a series of very different men, but the most important is the one we only hear her talk to on the phone: her psychiatrist. Lena's fragile psyche is communicated to us through the magic of image masking.
|This might be significant|
The highlights of the episode are two comic segments - one intentionally so, the other presumably not. Lena's paid a visit by journalist Donald V Staveley (Derek Smith), who's given her latest performance a glowing review. Lena assumes he's one of the UK's most prestigious critics, but rather than the Addison De Witt-like figure we're led to expect, he turns out to be a meek Northerner who can't even pronounce Dietrich properly. His reaction to Lena's enthusiastic welcome is one of stark terror.
Later, Lena attempts to seduce hotel bellboy Jess Conrad by encouraging him to do the twist with her. Jess's performance is, incredibly even worse than the one he gave a couple of years before in Killer Ape movie Konga. He certainly knows how to swivel his hips, though.
|"Take it, baby!"|
But perhaps the most memorable part of the episode is the end credits sequence, Norman Kay's discordant chimes accompanying defaced contact sheet images of Lena - it summarises the play's message far more eloquently than the preceding hour of drama has managed.
Jet Harris & Tony Meehan are still at number 1 in the hit parade with "Diamonds". Here's this week's number 2 - it's Frank Ifield with "The Wayward Wind".