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Steven Berkoff television

1970s-1980s


 

 

 

UFO

UFO was a cult sci-fi series from the 1970s.  It was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who has previously  worked on puppets in succesful series such as Thunderbirds Are Go, and in UFO they switch to actors but the special effects are stunning.

Commander Ed Straker, played by Ed Bishop, runs SHADO whose role is to intercept and destroy UFOs who regularly attack Earth and try to get around SHADO defences.  His team include Captain Foster, played by Michael Billlington.  As well as SHADO headquarters, hidden under a film studio, there is Moonbase, an automated SID (Space Interuder Detector) in space, as well as underwater vessels and interceptors which are the most effective in destroying UFOs.

An early role for Berkoff manning the interceptors which are sent up against the UFOs in four episodes in 1970-1971, Destruction, Mindbender, Cat with 10 Lives and Reflections in the Water. 1970.

 

UFO The Cat with Ten Lives 

The UFO episode 19- The Cat With Ten Lives 1970 and directed by David Tomblin who also directed a second UFO episode Reflections in the Water also with Berkoff.  This is Berkoff's longest role in the series.

After a mission Berkoff relaxes and plays three-dimensional chess.

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

One of the other interceptor pilots, Regan, is caught by aliens, then released and shortly after he adopts a stray cat and takes him back to SHADO.  It becomes apparant the cat is spying on SHADO.

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

The three interceptors escort a vessel, but Regan veers off and heads towards Moonbase intending to destroy it.

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

When it is realised the cat is controlling Regan there is a hunt for it using dogs, and the dogs close in.

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

When the cat is killed, control over Regan stops, and instead of crashing on Moonbase he crashes beyond, killing himself.

UFO The Cat With Ten Lives

 

 

 

UFO Destruction 

The UFO episode 20- Destruction 1970 and directed by Ken Turner.

UFO Destruction

UFO Destruction

A navy vessel sees a possible UFO and destroys it, without checking to establish if it could have been a passenger aircraft.  Straker suspects the vessel was on a top-secret mission but this is denied by the Admiralty.

UFO Destruction Steven Berkoff

As a precaution Straker sends an  interceptor piloted by Captain Steve Minto, played by Berkoff.

UFO Destruction

Eventually Straker suspects Sarah Bosanquet (played by Stephanie Beacham who would revive the role in another episode).  She has a large telescope, and it turns out she can also use it to send message to a UFO.  But Berkoff's interceptor is also in the path and he is knocked out, though he does recover later.

UFO Destruction

It turns out the warship was on a secret mission to deposit cannisters of 1000 gallons of nerve gas in a trench in the sea, and if the UFO manages to explode the gas it could destroy Earth.

UFO Destruction

Berkoff recovers and spots the UFOs.  He manages to destroy one.  

UFO Destruction

UFO Destruction

UFO Destruction

A good episode and Berkoff has a speaking role.

UFO Destruction

 

 

 

 

UFO Reflections in the Water

The UFO episode 23- Reflections in the Water from 1971 and directed by David Tomblin.

There are reports of strange activity underwater, at the same time as an unusally large group of UFOs (25 later  increased to 50) are massing.

UFO Refllections in the Water

Commander Straker orders SID (the Space Intruder Detector) for a report.

UFO Reflections in the Water 

The latest (1970s) technology is used.

UFO Reflections in the Water

Straker discovers an underwater base the aliens are using to replicate communications, ordering defences to stand down when the UFOs attack.

Straker uses the underwater defence vehicles to approach the base.  He dons underwater gear and enters the base, discovering the aliens can also replicate human form, and he sees the replicnt of himself.  As he leaves an alien tries to stop him- disappointingly it is not Straker's replicant.

Staker then orders the destruction of the underwater base as the UFOs attack.

UFO Reflections in the Water 

Straker readies the defences including Captain Steve Minto (played by Berkoff).

UFO Reflections in the Water

Berkoff makes a direct hit.

UFO Reflections in the Water

UFO Reflections in the Water

This was Berkoff's last appearance in UFO (the series was ending) and he appears for under a minute.

UFO Reflections in the Water

 

 

 

UFO Mindbender

The UFO episode 25- Mindbender from 1970 and directed by Ken Turner.

A UFO is close to Moonbase and two interceptors are sent, one with pilot Berkoff, bored with the long wait.

UFO Mindbender

This is Berkoff's only appearance. The ships chase the UFO which mysteriously self-explodes.  Shortly after one of the people sent to inspect the site of the crash has hallucinations, imagining Straker and Foster are cowboys, and attacking crew members until he is killed.

UFO Mindbender

A second crew member starts having hallucinations, seeing everyone as aliens and attacking them.  Finally Straker starts to hallucinate, with himself as an actor is a film which includes events from his past (actually from previous episodes) - "That's me up there.  That's my life".

UFO Mindbender

Even the comtrol room seems to be a studio set (which of course in reality it is).

UFO Mindbender

Straker recovers, and realises the hallucinations were caused by the crashed UFO.

An interesting and at times surreal episode, making use of the series' studio sets as part of the hallucination.

UFO Mindbender

All images from the DVD of the episodes.

 

 

The Expert - The Coat

Prudence Fitzgerald directs the episode The Coat from the BBC series The Expert in 1971.  Marius Goring (above) is the expert, a forensic scientist.  Berkoff plays Mike Barrett.  The series was the first BBC2 drama series to be made in colour.  Information from The Independent 18 Aug 2005.

 

Thirty Minute Theatre

The Thirty Minute Theatre series  on BBC 2 with the episode Psychological Warfare from 1971.   Directed by Mike Newell who went on to direct Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994 and earlier directed the cult but controversial and almost banned Big Breadwinner Hogg from 1969.  The "An hour before the big fight. The Champ is ready. But he has more than the Challenger to fear...".

Steven Berkoff has a small role as Bert.  Top of the bill is Del Henney who like Berkoff had roles in the Thirty Minute Theatre episode Psychological Warfare from 1971, and the film Joseph Andrews from 1977 and The Professionals from 1983 .

Details of the episode from Radio Times 1 Nov 1072 here.

 

Play for Today

 Beloved Enemy 1981

Berkoff as a Russian in this corporate saga.  Broadcast in the Play for Today series by the BBC on 10 Feb 1981.  Written by David Leland and directed by Alan Clarke.

Vodka Cola

"A corporation decides to outsource one of their contracts to the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. As they work with politicians on both sides of the table to keep the story out of the press, they also try to keep the contract." (information from rateyourmusic.com)



10 February 1981

Beloved Enemy
(Photo from here)

Directed by Alan Clarke with screenplay by David Leland and Charles Levinson based on Levinson's book Vodka Cola.  As well as Berkoff it featured Graham Growden, Tony Doyle, Oskar Quitak, George Pravda and Richard Bebb.

 

 

Coming out of the Ice

Coming out of the Ice directed by Warris Hussein, 1982.

Americans who sympathise with the Soviet Union go to live there and are enthusiastically  welcomed.

Coming out of the Ice

But they are closely watched- with Lenin watching the watcher.

Coming out of the Ice

Victor Herman (played by John Savage) is a sportsman, including skydiving, and when he jumps from the plane at a record height, the Soviet Union wants to publicise the achievement.

Coming out of the Ice

The condition is he has give up his American nationality.  When he refuses he is  imprisoned. 

Coming out of the Ice

He doesn't cooperate and is sent to a Gulag camp.

Coming out of the Ice

But he and fellows prisoners do not look like they suffered in the Gulags- Alexander Solzhenitsyn describes the utter desolation of the prisoners always close to death from starvation or from being worked to death.

Coming out of the Ice

John Savage and country singer Willie Nelson star.  John Savage looks well-fed and Willie Nelson acts like he is enjoying his stay in the gulag.

Berkoff is listed in imdb and Wikipedia as Atoman.  

Coming out of the Ice

Coming out of the Ice

But I couldn't find him in the film or the credits, and no character called Atoman.  I contacted the director Warris Hussein who kindly emailed "Steven Berkoff shot scenes for the film but, sadly, they were edited out by the producers" (18 Sept 2020).

Warris Hussein directed the very first episodes of Doctor Who in 1963- the series is ongoing almost 60  years later.  Other work includes Arnold Wesker's Love Letters on Blue Paper and Henry VIII and his Six Wives.  He previously directed Berkoff in the television series Moonstrike.

All images from the film, other than the imdb and Wikipedia entries scanned  on 18 Sept 2020.

 

 

 

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn  Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn - episode

Steven Berkoff is guest star in A Man Called Quinn, the last but one episode ever of The Professionals from 1983.  Berkoff is an evil doctor in a mental asylum. One patient, former agent Quinn (Del Henney). hallucinates and sees enemy soldiers and spies everywhere.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn - dictor  Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn - soldier

Quinn was a British agent but was captured by Russia and subjected to brainwashing for three years.  Finally released he is in a clinic and the doctor treating him (Berkoff) is part of a plot to use him to kill British agents.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

When he escapes from the clinic Doyle (Martin Shaw) and Bodie (Lewis Collins) are sent to find him.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

His four targets.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

After the failure of one attempt, it becomes clear he is only being used as a decoy for the real assassin.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

Berkoff is of course shot down at the end.

A reworking of The Manchurian Candidate. Horace Ové directs, and had worked previously with Berkoff in Moonstrike.  Del Henney also appeared in the Thirty Minute Theatre episode Psychological Warfare from 1971 and the film Joseph Andrews as did Berkoff.

Steven Berkoff - The Professionals - A Man Called Quinn

All images from the film

 

 

Streets of Yesterday

Streets of Yesterday by Israeli director Judd Yehuda Ne'eman in a spy thriller based on the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. 1989.

Wikipedia, imdb, encyclopedia.com and many other sites list Berkoff in the credits but tellingly none give his role in the film.

Streets of Yesterday indb entry

Streets of Yesterday wikipedia entry

This is because Berkoff neither appears in the credits of the film, nor does he actually appear in the film.  I emailed the director who kindly replied (17 Sept 2020):

"Dear Iain,
It's strange. He was mentioned during the casting process. I'm not sure whether we have ever met. I would like very much to have his name off my film cast record.
Thanks.
Judd"

The film deals with Israel-Palestine conflicts.

Streets  of Yesterday

The film plods along, with poor action sequences, mediocre photography and actors speaking lines as if they are giving the shipping forecast.  The message is at times heavy-handed, the film going one better than Hamlet and using two skulls.

Streets of Yesterday 

The only good moment in the film- an interesring quote from Conrad "All a man can betray is his conscience".  The source is not credited in the film, but  it is from his novel Under Western Eyes.

Streets of Yesterday - Joseph Conrad


I gave the film a negative review, but as the director was kind enough to reply to me, here is another review (from annieoz on imdb here) to show how wrong I am.

"Dealing in the same emotional territory of personal/political betrayal as The Third Man but in the topical setting of Israel and Berlin this film from 1989 holds up well.  Strong performances, good direction and an interesting use of varied locations make for a well-above-average thriller".

 

All images from the film apart from the imdb and wikipedia screenshots dated 17 Sept 2020.

 

 

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