An expensive little treat for you this one! A very rare magazine that features a look at the then new, DOOMWATCH Feature Film with some eyebrow raising predictions of life in 1980 and the first time we've read anywhere about a planned sequel to the film...
The hit TV series Doomwatch now comes to the big screen.
Photoplay previews this film which looks at the disturbing problem of pollution.
TWENTY-SIX per cent of the population of Great Britain watched "Doomwatch" on television. It is, perhaps, synonymous with the age we live in that a television series, a dramatic, fictional situation given credence by its documentary approach, should do more to ram home the immense problem and
danger of pollution than all the learned dissertations of experts. Pollution is a problem we have to face — and do something about — before it is too late. The success of the television series has now led, naturally enough, to the production of a full-length feature film. Unlike so many similar transitions, Doomwatch has mushroomed into a really exciting and adventurous film. Starring Ian Bannen, Judy Geeson, George Sanders, with John Paul, Simon Oates, Jean Trend and Joby Blanshard from the television series also featuring in the film, Doomwatch was written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis (the men responsible for the original television concept), with a final screenplay by Clive Exton. The film is directed by Peter Sasdy. Kit Pedler and co-writer Gerry Davis have a frightening knack of predicting the future; many times they have preceded an actual occurrence by a matter of weeks. I went to Kit Pedler's home in Clapham to talk about his work. A Doctor of Medicine, Kit found himself attracted to research shortly after qualifying and completed a second degree. One of his greatest dreams is the setting up of a real life team to keep an eye on pollution. He told me: "What we've got to elimihate is the dreadful apathy which people have about pollution. I'm sure they don't realise how serious it is. I feel that one of the best and most effective ways of making the public aware of the problem is dramatically. Talk a lot of dry, dusty facts and they couldn't care less, but absorb those facts into a dramatic, fictional work and they start to take notice. He and Gerry Davis spent an afternoon by a blackboard deciding on a name for their project; such ideas as ‘Monitor’ and ‘Protector’ were eliminated and finally they decided to join together ‘Doom’ and ‘Watch’, both of which had figured in their final list. It must be gratifying to them both that Doomwatch has been integrated into the English language. “If only," he joked, “we could collect 1p every time someone says Doomwatch!". Dr. Pedler is doing his bit to make the public more aware of environmental pollution; he gives lectures at universities and to the general public, he has appeared on television, talked on radio. But in spite of his deep concern he is basically optimistic: "I believe in people. I am sure that one day they will turn round and say ‘stop’ and do something before it's too late." The ironic and frightening thing about Doomwatch is that within weeks of the film being completed in Cornwall the ‘Cornwall Canisters’ scandal came to light. Even more coincidental is the fact that the plot of Doomwatch concerns what happens after canisters containing a hormone substance are illegally dumped in the sea by a large chemical company. The hormone escapes into the water, is consumed by fish and subsequently by people living on a small island off the west coast of England. The result is a very real disease known as acromegaly, which disfigures the face and body. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis have just written another book, ‘Mutant 59', on which the film company, Tigon, have an option. It tells of the evacuation of the whole of London to save it from a bug that eats plastic and destroys the city. The director of the film is Peter Sasdy. Born in Budapest, Peter escaped to England during the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and after a determined struggle he worked his way into television. He finally broke into films two years ago and his work has been highly praised. His last two films were Countess Dracula and Hands Of The Ripper. With Doomwatch, Peter is particularly concerned that there should be a successful marriage between the entertainment value and the serious message. "I hope that in this film I have made a personal statement combined with entertainment. My main function, as a director, is to entertain. I feel I can look in the mirror in the morning and say ‘Pete, you tried’. I can't’ be my own critic and say I succeeded — I leave that to you. I have tried to make it in a documentary style — a ‘News At Ten‘ plus entertainment. But do stress that it's not just a serious subject; it's also an exciting story." Already there are plans for a sequel. One of the most commendable aspects of Doomwatch is the attention to detail, the insistence on scientific authenticity. Dr. Pedler could be found on the set many tirnes setting up equipment, overseeing the scientific ritual. He even demonstrated the correct way to dissect a fish, for the benefit of Ian Bannen! Peter Sasdy says he thinks that in one way it is exciting to be able to make a statement on pollution when it is still a relatively new subject for British concern. "The Americans and the Japanese are much more advanced in it than we are." Dr. Pedler told me that he felt Communist China was doing the most in actively protecting the environment. I asked Peter Sasdy whether his concern about pollution had happened since the film or whether he had been concerned even before Doomwatch became part of his way of life? "Yes, I was concerned. I hate going on a beach and finding it filthy with oil which you get on your feet and clothes." The personnel connected with the film both stars and technicians have all absorbed Dr. Pedler's feeling about pollution. Talk to any of them and they all express concern. Some are taking positive steps, particularly Jean Trend who starred in the television series as well. Jean has organised a housewives’ group who are all actively involved in antipollution activities. In the recent controversial report on the environment it was stated that by 1980 we won't have to worry about the population explosion: pollution will have overtaken the birth rate! This sort of frightening data cannot be ignored. We must do something before it is too late. Doomwatch will help to make the public aware of the problem; now it's up to us to realise that it isn't just a fictional situation.
Original article by Susan d’Arcy