The Caves Of Steel
BBC 1964
The new channel of BBC 2 dipped it's first toe in the sci-fi water with this production of a 1954 Isaac Asimov's story, shown as part of Story Parade, a season of plays adapted from modern novels. Caves Of Steel was the fifth episode to be transmitted. Set in a crowded city two hundred years in the future, the production starred Peter Cushing as Elijah Bailey a detective investigating the murder of a scientist called Dr Sarton. Bailey is assisted by R Daniel Olivaw (the R standing for robot) played by John Carson and the duo have just 48 hours to solve the case...

The production marked Cushing's first working relationship with director Peter Sasdy who would later the direct the actor in the film Nothing But The Night (1972) and an episode of the TV series Orson Wellles Great Mysteries in 1973. Special Effects for the programme where handled by Jack Kline and Bernard Wilkie who had also previously worked with Cushing on the BBC production of 1984. The Caves of Steel gathered some good reviews and was repeated two months later under a "Best of..." umbrella. Cushing was paid £787 for his appearance in the play. Rehearsals ran from 15th April to 4th May, with camera rehearsals running from 5th - 7th May and recording taking place in Studio One of BBC Television Centre on the evening of 7th May.

Script editor for the series was Irene Shubik who had previously worked on the ABC science fiction anthology series Out Of This World. She would later work as both producer and script editor for the first two seasons of the BBC series Out Of The Unknown. Shubik seemed to particulary favour the work of author Isaac Asimov having selected Little Lost Robot for adaptation as an episode of Out Of This World and later commissioning a further six stories for Out Of The Unknown. The gun prop used in The Caves Of Steel was reused in the 1965 Out Of This World episode Time In Advance which was also directed by Peter Sasdy. Special effects for the production were shot on film and included the fairly graphic death at the start of the programme, model work and a chase sequence towards the end of the play. Location filming for this chase sequence took place on 17th April. The music and sound effects for the play were specially composed by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Sadly the production is missing from the archives, however a small clip (1 minute and 20 seconds in length) of the title sequence and the murder of Dr Sarton still survives, as they where used in editions of Horizon and Tomorrow's World.

Portrayed By
Elijah Baley
Peter Cushing
R Daniel Olivaw
John Carson
Stanley Walsh
R Sammy
Ian Trigger
Commissioner Enderby
Kenneth J Warren
Richard Beale
John Boyd-Brent
Shop Manager
Richard Beint

The producer was Eric Tayler and the story editor was Irene Shubik. Running time was 75 minutes.

Peter Cushing as Elijah Bailey in Caves Of Steel.

The Caves Of Steel
Director : Peter Sasdy
Writer : Terry Nation from a story by Isaac Asimov
TX : Friday, 5th June 1964 and repeated Friday, 28th August 1964

Notes : Terry Nation had recently become an in demand writer thanks to the creation of The Daleks for Dr Who. He would later create the apocalyptic drama series Survivors and Blake's Seven. Australian character actor Kenneth J Warren made numerous genre TV appearances including The Avengers (Girl on the Trapeze), Top Secret, Intercrime, The Little Wonders and Epic), The Champions, The Saint, The Persauders!, Danger Man, Spyders Webb, Up Pompeii, Steptoe and Son and Special Branch. Amongst his last big screen roles are appearances in The Creeping Flesh and Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973). Peter Sasdy would also direct the Nigel Kneale story The Stone Tape (1972). Isaac Asimov's 1957 novel The Naked Sun also featured the character of Elijah Bailey and was produced for television by BBC 2 in 1969 as part of the sci-fi anthology series Out of the Unknown. Peter Cushing had been one of TV's biggest stars in the fifties with roles in productions such as 1984 and The Creature. Actor John Carson also appeared in The Avengers, Out of the Unknown, Doctor Who and Adam Adamant Lives! and had an uncredited role in The Caves of Steel as the scientist murdered at the beggining of the story.

Text © Andrew Screen 2007