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Michael J Bird's Contribution to
Journey to the Unknown

For more information try the Mausoleum Club's "Timescreen" Journey to the Unknown Episode guide

17 (60 minute ) episodes 1968-69.

Journey to the Unknown was a mixture of psychological suspense, medical experimentation and science fiction with a little murder and mystery thrown in for good measure. Michael Bird was credited with three scripts, and his widow says he re-wrote a fourth.

Hammer Films made the series in Britain although Twentieth Century Fox financed it to the tune of £70,000 per episode. It featured a steady mixture of American and British stars. This was Hammer's first venture into TV after establishing itself in the mid 1950s with cinematic retellings of such classics as Frankenstein and Dracula.

Journey to the Unknown premiered in the US several weeks prior to its UK debut (on ABC). In Britain it failed to secure a steady run, being shown mainly in the London area with only sporadic viewings elsewhere.

(Incidentally the 'Unknown' referred to in the title was the Human Mind.)

TV Times cast listing - click for larger version 21st April 1969
SOMEWHERE IN A CROWD
by Michael J. Bird.
Directed by Alan Gibson.

Cast: David Hedison (William Searle), Ann Bell (Ruth Searle), Jeremy Longhurst (Max Newby), Jane Asher (Marielle), Ewen Solon (Douglas Bishop), Tenniel Evans (Hugh Baillie); George McGrath, Frank Cousins, Kaplan Kaye, Ann King, Elizabeth Robillard (The Watchers).

At a shipyard, TV commentator William Searle is disturbed when he sees five strangely familiar faces in the crowd of a launching which goes disastrously wrong. Other tragedies happen to him, always with the strangers present, and soon he discovers that the five were killed in a train crash two years earlier which he survived.

David Hedison and Jane Asher

Of the role David Hedison said, "I had just finished Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I had just gotten married in London. I was just falling in love with England. We had just gotten back to LA. Journey to the Unknown was shooting the segment titled 'Somewhere in a Crowd.' Originally Lloyd Bridges was supposed to do the part, and he, for some reason had to get out of it. He had another commitment. They called me in quickly, and I said absolutely, so they flew me to London to do it."

See also
David Hedison's own website
Download a copy of the script

READ THE SCRIPT

Download a copy of Michael Bird's script for
"Somewhere in a crowd"

Thanks to his widow, Olive, I have been able to copy Bird's script for "Somewhere in a crowd" and it can be downloaded here as a PDF file.
It differs quite a bit from the episode as it was eventually filmed.

You will need Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™ to read it. Acrobat® Reader™ is free software that lets you view and print Adobe PDF files.

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Screencap of title credit 28th April 1969
MATAKITAS IS COMING
by Robert Heverley and Michael J. Bird*.
Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Cast: Vera Miles (June Wiley), Dermot Walsh (Ken Talbot), Gay Hamilton (Sylvia Ann), Leon Lissek (Matakitas)

June is working late at the city library researching serial killer Matakitas who was hanged after being found guilty of the brutal murders of young women during the 1920s. After finding she has been accidentally Opens a blank mail message to enable you to e-mail for details locked in the library for the night June discovers she has also gone back in time to the night of Matakitas last killing. She is not alone in the building. The psychopath requires one more victim in order to gain the Devil's dispensation and this defenceless woman is the perfect sacrifice.

* Uncredited re-write

2nd June 1969
THE MADISON EQUATION
TV Times cast listing - click for larger version by Michael J. Bird.
Directed by Rex Firkin.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Inga Madison), Allan Cuthbertson (Ralph Madison), Paul Daneman (Stuart Crosbie), Sue Lloyd (Barbara Rossiter), Jack Hedley (Adam Frost), Richard Vernon (Sir Gerald Walters), Lionel Murton (Gen. Wanamaker), Aubrey Morris (Frederick Shea), Lloyd Lamble (Inspector Bridges)

Brilliant computer scientist Inga Madison is responsible for the Computex GB computer at the National Computer Centre and is having an affair with client Stuart Crosbie. Her jealous husband, Ralph, programmes the computer to electrocute her, but instead it kills him. Insurance investigator Alan Frost looks into the strange incident.


TV Times cast listing - click for larger version 9th June 1969
GIRL OF MY DREAMS
by Robert Bloch and Michael J. Bird (based on a story by Richard Matheson)
Directed by Peter Sasdy

Cast: Michael Callan (Greg Richards), Zena Walker (Carrie Clark), Justine Lord (Sue Tarleton), Jan Holden (Mrs Wheeler), David Langton (Mr Thwaite)

Michael Callan and Zena Walker

Opportunist Greg Richards is in a restaurant trying to persuade fashion model Sue Tarleton to pose nude for a calendar, but she refuses. Carrie Clark, the shy cashier, pleads with her not to leave until ten or she will be killed in an accident. When the prediction comes true, Greg marries Carrie and starts to exploit her dreams of death for other people.

POINT OF INTEREST

Bird said this series gave him his second lucky break.

He submitted a story ("Somewhere In A Crowd") and received a contract to write the script. Only later did he learn the conract had been sent in error by a secretary. Fortunately the Producers liked the script and asked him to write another ("The Madison Equation") and to rework scripts by other writers ("Girl of My Dreams" and "Matakitas is Coming" - the latter uncredited).

Alfred Shaugnessy also contributed to "Journey to the Unknown". He had been script editor on The Informer (one of the first shows Bird wrote for) and was the man behind Upstairs Downstairs.

Bird contributed a storyline to Upstairs Downstairs , which I am told was the only story-line ever bought in for the series - all the rest came from Shaughnessy himself.


Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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