Victor Bergman

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Victor Bergman
Space: 1999 character
Victorbergman.jpg
Barry Morse as Victor Bergman
Portrayed by Barry Morse
Date of birth 27 June 1940 [1]
Date of death 2000? [2]
Home planet Earth
Affiliation Moonbase Alpha
Species Human
Gender Male
Posting Moonbase Alpha's lead scientist, confidant and adviser to Commander John Koenig
Rank Physicist, philosopher and astronomer

Professor Victor Bergman is the name of a recurring character on the United Kingdom science fiction television series Space: 1999. The role was portrayed by actor Barry Morse.

Character Biography[edit]

Victor Bergman was in his late fifties and, after the Moon's breakaway from Earth, served as Moonbase Alpha's lead scientist, and as a close confidant and advisor to Commander John Koenig, with whom he had become acquainted in his university days. The two would forge a lasting friendship.

He is conversant with most of the scientific disciplines, but is also something of a philosopher. A professor of astrophysics, he discovered a tenth planet in Earth's solar system which he would name Ultra[3] and then helped to plan a manned mission to explore the planet. During the Moon's journey through unknown space, he calculated that an unknown space object the Moon was being drawn toward was the first 'black sun' (i.e. black hole) ever witnessed firsthand by man.[4]

His backstory includes the significant detail that he is a Nobel Prize recipient. The framed certificate can be seen hung on the wall of his living quarters/laboratory in early episodes "Matter of Life and Death", "Black Sun", et cetera. In an early draft of "Breakaway", it is stated Bergman was involved in the invention of the artificial gravity system used on Alpha and other Space Commission installations and craft. Another Writers' Guide revelation was that Bergman was a widower and had lost his wife sometime before the series opener, implying that Bergman's presence on Alpha was an escape from Earth and the memories it held. His accent seems to indicate he is a British national, but actor Barry Morse has stated he believes Bergman to be an Austrian of Jewish descent whose family fled Europe and Nazi tyranny in the late 1930s/early 1940s, taking refuge in Great Britain.

Following the disastrous failure of the 1996 Ultra Probe Mission, he was forced to leave Moonbase Alpha by Commissioner Dixon, the head of the Space Commission. Dixon made Bergman one of the scapegoats for the failure, in part because Bergman was unwilling to join in the vilification of Probe commander Tony Cellini.[3]

Series one[edit]

By September 1999, he had returned to Moonbase as a welcome visitor.[original research?] The returning John Koenig remarked with pleasure that Bergman was still on Alpha, to which Bergman cryptically commented he had gotten 'caught', suggesting that the Space Commission had terminated all personnel travel to and from Alpha during the Meta Probe crisis for the purpose of security. Despite this lack of rank within the Moonbase hierarchy, he was one of few people aware of the true situation on the Moon and knew the 'virus infection' cover-story was a Space Commission-created fiction in "Breakaway".

Over the course of the first series, Bergman emerges as a kind of 'father figure' on the base (Morse has been interviewed saying he played the role as everyone's favourite 'space uncle'); his normally calm, rational and understanding demeanor make him a highly respected person on Alpha. He often acts as a calming influence on the quick-tempered John Koenig. He regards all the Alpha personnel with fatherly affection; this is especially evident in his relationship with Helena Russell (see "Breakaway", "Black Sun", "Ring Around the Moon", "Guardian of Piri", "The Infernal Machine", et cetera).

Bergman's scientific brilliance saves Moonbase several times during the first series. A prime example occurs in the episode "Black Sun", in which he adapts the anti-gravity screens which regulated the artificial gravity within Alpha to produce an ingenious force field effect to protect the base when the Moon passes through a massive black sun.[5] Bergman would also improvise 'Operation Shockwave' to divert the Moon's collision course with the planet Atheria by planning to detonate a series of nuclear mines between the two bodies to force them apart into different courses.[6] Koenig and Alan Carter would foil the plan in collusion with Arra, the mysterious Queen of Atheria.

His living quarters reflected his eclectic personality. A laboratory bench strewn with an array of scientific equipment dominated the room. Plans for a photon drive system and a self-contained space city adorned the walls.[7] It was the only private quarters on Alpha equipped with a computer terminal linked directly to Main Computer.[4] Well-thumbed text books crowded the shelves and a violin was once seen sitting in a lounge chair.[8] Crowded in the sleeping alcove along with the bed were several terrariums (occupants unknown).

Bergman's scientific curiosity would lead to several lapses in judgement. He would welcome the enigmatic Jackie Crawford in "Alpha Child" despite the child's phenomenal growth to five years of age just hours after his birth. In "Death's Other Dominion", he would become a disciple of Doctor Cabot Rowland's misguided quest for immortality on the planet Ultima Thule and recommend the evacuation of Alpha to that icy world. In "End of Eternity", an exploratory mission to an anomalous asteroid would release an imprisoned psychopath, the immortal Balor, on an unsuspecting Alpha.

Victor Bergman had an artificial heart, which was raised as an issue in several episodes. In "Black Sun", Bergman was electrocuted while adjusting some high-voltage relays involved with the force field; Helena stated after his resuscitation that his artificial heart had saved his life. In both "Guardian of Piri" and "Force of Life", a decrease in Moonbase atmosphere oxygen levels adversely affected Bergman as his heart was slow to cope with the change. In "The Infernal Machine", he was again electrocuted after touching some exposed equipment within the living spacecraft 'Gwent' and was resurrected by it with a direct application of a high-voltage electrical arc. The artificial heart was mentioned briefly during the Michelle Osgood medical crisis in the second series episode "Catacombs of the Moon". (In an early draft of the script, the Dorfman artificial heart would have been referred to as the Bergman heart.)

Series two[edit]

Bergman appeared in every episode of the first series of Space: 1999, which aired in the 1975-1976 television season. He did not return for the second series. (See the article List of Space: 1999 episodes for specific episode information.) The fate of Victor Bergman is alluded to in a trimmed scene from the second series opener "The Metamorph", when Tony Verdeschi notes 'I wish Bergman were here,' and then 'One lousy spacesuit with a faulty helmet and Victor had to be in it.' Sandra Benes would then have replied 'We can't bring him back, Tony.' This scene was filmed, but cut from the final print. Since it was never broadcast and has never been seen, fans do not consider this to be the canonical fate of Bergman. It was also mentioned in the Planets of Peril novelisation of "The Metamorph".

In the Powys Media novel Space: 1999 Survival, the near-death and resurrection of Victor Bergman is chronicled in this between series' tale. The novel, written by Brian Ball, features a foreword written by Barry Morse. In it, Bergman floating in space with a ruptured suit is kept alive by a fragment of the living ship, Susurra, which is then reincorporated. Bergman is revived and Susurra takes him and the surviving Leira people to a new world (Leiram II). In the short story, "Spider's Web" (collected in the anthology Shepherd Moon), Bergman and his new wife Yendys investigate a spacecraft approaching Leiram II, only to find it infested with 'dragons' (from "Dragon's Domain"). The 2010 novel Space: 1999 Omega featured his return to Alpha long after the events of the second series. In the novels Omega and Space: 1999 Alpha, two Victor Bergmans are featured. One is the alternate Victor Bergman from "Another Time, Another Place"; the other is the Victor Bergman from the Year One through Survival.

The true reason for Professor Bergman's absence was unsatisfactory salary and contract negotiations between actor Barry Morse and the show's producers. Morse initially wished to retain salary and benefits commensurate with that which he received in series one, although he eventually agreed to a significant decrease (33 percent less) in pay and elimination of benefits (chauffeur service to and from the studio). Even in light of Morse's concessions, the producers declined to renew the actor's contract indicating that during the short negotiation period other plans had been made and his character was eliminated from the show.[9] Morse and others surmised that the negotiations were a ploy on the part of American producer Fred Freiberger to dispense with all series one cast members with the exception of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain and that no agreement would ever have been made.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Moonbase Alpha Technical Manual
  2. ^ No reference was given in the series to his death
  3. ^ a b Space: 1999 episode "Dragon's Domain"
  4. ^ a b Space: 1999 episode "Black Sun"
  5. ^ In dialogue trimmed from the final cut of that episode, it is stated the force field would reverse the deadly 'circular vice' gravity effect of the black sun by 'reversing' (?) it, thus causing the force of the black sun to protect Alpha from itself. The weakest point in the gravity field would then be directly above Alpha and the rest of the Moon would be pushed through at this point. 'Like popping a cherry stone,' Paul Morrow was then to have commented.
  6. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Collision Course"
  7. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Matter of Life and Death"
  8. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Alpha Child"
  9. ^ Destination: Moonbase Alpha - The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Space: 1999 (Telos Publishing, 2010), ISBN 978-1-84583-034-2

External links[edit]