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3. BEACH HEAD
Commandant Decker, like so many pioneering explorers explorers before him, is a man who has to prove himself to himself. He is a veteran of some thirty-six fault-less missions to alien planets. They were faultless because the ultra-technology which man has evolved overcomes all eventualities, however strange, however "unknown". The spacecraft, robots, computers, drugs, weapons - all are perfect, invincible. Decker and his colleagues have achieved great facts in the conquering of space; but the real achievement is that of science rather than of the men who use it; the human function has been reduced to that of a button-pusher, flesh-robot. And now on his thirty-seventh mission, to planet 0243/B, Commandant Decker is tired - tired of his life, tired of what man has become - tired to the point of rebellion.
And it is not until this new planet subtly defeats their hitherto infallible machines that Decker at last defines both the cause and the cure for his dissatisfaction: that he is first and foremost a human-being.
Written by Clifford Simak
Dramatised by Ronert Muller [sic]
Directed by James Cellan Jones
Commandant Decker is a veteran of over fifty landings on alien planets. He is surrounded by a team of highly-skilled scientists and one woman psychiatrist. 0243/B is to all appearances a friendly planet, so when Decker accepts the statement made by the humanoids on the planet: "You will never leave", his colleagues are appalled by his attitude. They see nothing to deter their departure - until their watches stop. Decker refuses to act, and the team decide to take over command, only to find that the robots they have disintegrate, the ship and equipment are useless and they realise they are marooned. 0243/B, so friendly in appearance, harbours a malignancy for metal.
Alan Bromly is a free-lance producer and director. He was a theatre director at the age of twenty-two, and after about a hundred productions, started his association with the BBC. He has been contracted to the BBC very frequently, as a director, writer and actor. He has this to say about "BEACH HEAD": "Originally an electronic colour recording, it has been transferred to black and white film specifically for this Festival. Unlike a film, it is the dialogue which is most important, and instead of using gadgets, the production has more philosophical overtones. Another major difference is that this production was rehearsed for just over two weeks, and recorded in just over two hours."
James Cellan Jones is a Welsh-born free-lance director, specialising in the classics. Considered one of Britain's up and coming directors, this is his first science-fiction production. He was part of the team which directed the award-winning Forstye Saga and Portrait of a Lady. Commenting on this production of "BEACH HEAD", Cellan Jones says that the story was originally written from an American point of view. He felt, however, that at this stage of the future, international co-operation would have evolved to a high degree. For example, in the original story, Dr. Cassandra was described as a "tall, blond, cool and Nordic", whereas Cellan Jones cast a West Indian coloured girl, because he feels that the time has come to cast by character rather than by outward appearance.
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