The Omega Factor
|The Omega Factor|
This is the main title caption that was seen throughout the series.
|Created by||Jack Gerson|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||10 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Original run||13 June 1979 – 15 August 1979|
The Omega Factor (stylized as The Ωmega Factor) is a British television series produced by BBC Scotland in 1979. It was created by Jack Gerson and produced by George Gallaccio, and transmitted in ten weekly episodes between 13 June and 15 August.
Journalist Tom Crane (James Hazeldine) possesses untapped psychic powers that bring him to the attention of the scientists who comprise Department 7, a secret "need to know only" government organ which investigates paranormal phenomena and the potential of the human mind. The phenomena explored include hypnosis, brainwashing, extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, poltergeist phenomena, out-of-body experiences and spiritual possession.
Crane joins Department 7 as a means of finding and getting revenge on Edward Drexel (Cyril Luckham), a powerful rogue psychic who is responsible for the death of Crane's wife in an automobile accident. Crane's work with the department, and his own psychic gift, lead Crane to suspect a deadly conspiracy by a mysterious organisation called Omega to take over the world using mind control. The members of Department 7 include physicist Dr. Anne Reynolds (Louise Jameson), an old friend of Crane's wife, and the secretive head of the department, psychiatrist Dr Roy Martindale (John Carlisle). Most episodes see the driven and impetuous Crane in impatient conflict with the cautious Martindale, with Anne (who falls in love with Crane, though she also has a brief relationship with Martindale) caught in the middle. Various subplots develop over the course of the series - notably Crane's hunt for Drexel, his growing suspicions about the Omega conspiracy and his developing relationship with Anne.
Only lasting for one series of ten episodes, The Omega Factor promptly vanished without trace, possibly[original research?] thanks to the objections of public moralist Mary Whitehouse, who called the episode "Powers of Darkness" "thoroughly evil" because it depicted hypnosis, the supernatural and a man burning to death (another suggestion,[original research?] however, is that the series was only made to fill the gap left in the BBC 1 schedule when the second series of The Standard was dropped, making a second series unlikely). A recent DVD release has prompted a long overdue re-evaluation.[opinion] The series' combination of science fiction, horror and thriller elements, and its narrative focus on shadowy government departments and conspiracies to gain world domination, as well as the chemistry between James Hazeldine's and Louise Jameson's characters, in many ways anticipates the 1990s TV phenomenon The X-Files, while some elements of later episodes (as the conspiracy begins to fight back against Crane) recall The Prisoner.[original research?] Although the final episode resolved several of the subplots, it raised several more issues and its ambiguous ending suggests that a second season was anticipated.[original research?]
A novel by Jack Gerson, telling the story of Crane's hunt for Drexel (a substantially different story from that in the broadcast series, aside from the first episode which the novel duplicated faithfully), was published to accompany the series.
Produced by BBC Scotland, the series was shot on location in Edinburgh (making use of a number of Edinburgh landmarks such as the Royal Mile, Holyrood Park, and Edinburgh Zoo), with studio production conducted in Glasgow. Unlike most BBC programmes of the day, the series was shot almost entirely on videotape (as opposed to the then-common practice of using film for exteriors); nonetheless a few filmed scenes were shot for one episode.
- The documentary "Inside the Omega Factor", produced for the 2006 DVD release, includes claims by the programme's production staff of strange happenings during production that could have been supernatural in origin. For example, during the filming of one episode all the clocks in the studio stopped simultaneously, and during rehearsal a ouija board fell over on its own. Actress Natasha Gerson, who played the mysterious recurring character of Morag, says her character's regular costume (a wooly dress) also disappeared without a trace.
- Recurring guest star Natasha Gerson is the daughter of the show's creator. According to her interview for the 2006 DVD release, she auditioned for the role under an assumed name so that the casting agent was not aware of the relation.
- The series was originally allotted to run thirteen episodes, but to maintain a certain level of quality, the production was scaled back to ten episodes to allow more money to be budgeted per episode.
- This was actress Louise Jameson's first post-Doctor Who role.
The complete series of The Omega Factor was released by DD Home Entertainment on DVD in Region 2 (UK) on 20 June 2005.