Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lost Asimov TV: The Caves of Steel


John Carson as R. Daneel Olivaw and Peter Sellers as Lije Bailey

Here's the text from the YouTube summary showing a very few, very brief clips from The Caves of Steel:

The Documentary - Time Shift Machine Men provides an extended scene towards the end of the clip and a further scene pruned from the documentary series Future Fantastic I Robot.

This was a BBC 2 production that was broadcast as part of "Story Parade" which specialized in adaptations of modern novels. It was broadcast on June 5, 1964 and repeated on August 28, 1964. The teleplay was by Terry Nation (who invented "Blake's 7" and the Daleks in Dr. Who), and Elijah Baley was played by the late Peter Cushing. It also starred John Carson as R. Daneel Olivaw and Kenneth J. Warren. The master tapes of the program were erased, however a few clips from the production have turned up in various documentaries about Isaac Asimov's work.


In the UK, a BBC documentary series hosted by Gillian Anderson titled "Future Fantastic" was broadcast in 1997. One particular edition was titled "I, Robot", and focused a great deal on Asimov's work. It also contained some of the rare clips from "Liar!" and "The Caves of Steel".

Asimov presented an episode titled "Robot", about developments in robotics, in December 1967 as part of the BBC documentary series "Towards Tomorrow". This is thought to be the original source of surviving clips from the Out of the Unknown teleplay "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and the BBC teleplay of "Caves of Steel". If you have a copy of this please get in touch!!!

The adaptation was the brainchild of Story Parade story editor Irene Shubik, who was an enthusiast of science fiction and a fan of Isaac Asimov in particular, once referring to him as one of the most interesting and amusing men I have ever met.[1] Shubik had previously devised and story edited the science fiction anthology series Out of This World, which had adapted Asimov's short story "Little Lost Robot" in 1962. The adaptation of the novel was handled by Terry Nation, who at this time had recently found fame and fortune as the creator of the popular Dalek monsters for the science fiction series Doctor Who.

The screenplay was generally faithful to the plot of the novel. The only major deviation was the conclusion in the television version the murderer commits suicide when he is unmasked, although in the novel he agrees to work to convince the Medievalists to change their ways. The other major change is that the roboticist Dr. Gerrigal is a female character in the television version.

Director Peter Sasdy later directed a number of Hammer horror films as well as the Nigel Kneale television play The Stone Tape. The Caves of Steel garnered good reviews: The Daily Telegraph said the play proved again that science fiction can be exciting, carry a message and be intellectually stimulating while The Listener, citing the play as the best of the Story Parade series, described it as a fascinating mixture of science fiction and whodunit which worked remarkably well.

The play was repeated on BBC1 on 28 August 1964. As was common practice at the time, the master tapes of "The Caves of Steel" were wiped some time after broadcast and the play remains missing to this day. A few short extracts survive: the opening titles and the murder of Sarton; Elijah and Daneel meeting Dr. Gerrigel (Naomi Chance) and Elijah and Daneel confronting the Medievalist Clousarr (John Boyd-Brent).

The success of "The Caves of Steel" led Irene Shubik to devise the science fiction anthology series Out of the Unknown, during which she oversaw the adaptation of six more Asimov stories, including The Caves of Steel sequel The Naked Sun. Please support the BBC in any release of this series.

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