Alan Carter (Space: 1999)

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Alan Carter
Space: 1999 character
Nick Tate as Captain Alan Carter
Portrayed by Nick Tate
Species Human
Gender Male
Affiliation Moonbase Alpha
Posting 14 June 1999, fourth tour of duty on Moonbase Alpha[1]
Rank Captain, chief Eagle pilot
Section Reconnaissance
Date of birth 19 December 1966, New South Wales, Australia[1]
Home planet Earth

Alan Carter is a fictional character from the television series Space: 1999. He was played by Nick Tate. He is of Australian origin and is in his early thirties.

Character biography[edit]

Head of the Reconnaissance Section and the chief Eagle pilot of Moonbase Alpha, Captain Alan Carter was on his fourth tour of duty when the Moon broke away from Earth in September 1999.

Having grown up on a cattle ranch in Australia, Carter's major talents were horsemanship and surfing.[2] Fit and athletic, he was proficient at rugby; he owned the football used in the Australia-Great Britain game Swinton, 1963 with Harrison's signature (his grandfather played on Harrison's team).[3] He claims it was his inability to start a campfire that got him 'drummed out of the Boy Scouts'.[4]

His fondest dream and greatest love was flying. As a teenager he flew his family's private plane. As a young man he joined the Royal Australian Air Force. He joined the space programme in the early 1980s and trained with NASA until the late '80s. Afterwards he became an astronaut in the U.S./Australian Space Co-operation Program (1994). Somewhere at this time, he won the Houston Base boxing championship against friend and fellow Australian astronaut Ken Burdett.[5] Three years later he was the third man to go to Mars and a year after that crewed on a flight to Venus. In 1996, Carter became a member of Moonbase Alpha, having successfully tested the Eagle Transporter and Mark IX Hawk.[1]

Series one[edit]

At the time of the Moon's breakaway from Earth in September 1999, Alan Carter's main responsibility was co-ordinating the launch of the Meta Probe from the orbital Space Dock. After the probe was launched Carter would receive telemetry and other flight data on Moonbase Alpha. (This same task was performed by now-Commander Koenig during the Ultra Probe Mission of 1996.)[6] Despite his position on the senior staff, Carter was not informed of the mysterious nature of the astronaut deaths by previous Alpha Commander Gorski in "Breakaway" and believed the 'virus infection' cover story until set straight by new Commander John Koenig.

Carter was the only resident of Moonbase Alpha to be absent when the Moon broke away from Earth; instead he was piloting an Eagle spacecraft on a high-altitude observatory flight of the nuclear waste dispersal operation. When the nuclear explosion which blasted the Moon out of Earth orbit occurred, Carter decided to return to Alpha rather than chance a trip to Earth.

For the remainder of the series, Carter remains Alpha's Chief Eagle pilot, and he is arguably the best pilot on Moonbase. He tends to be aggressive whenever Alpha is confronted by aliens; he often subscribes to the theory of 'shoot first and ask questions later' (i.e. "Alpha Child", "War Games", "The Last Enemy", "Space Brain"). He is utterly loyal to Commander Koenig. He considers himself close with all the men under his command, referring to them as his 'mates' on several occasions (i.e. "Guardian of Piri", "Space Brain"). Carter's heroics save Moonbase Alpha on a number of occasions: in the episode "Collision Course", Carter risks his life to destroy an asteroid with a nuclear weapon before it can collide with Moonbase.

In terms of personality, Carter is initially gruff, excitable, and sometimes abrasive and argumentative during the early part of Series One. He displayed proficiency in unarmed combat in several episodes, no doubt acquired during his military service. In the episode "Missing Link", Alan displayed a rare instance of losing his temper to the point of physical violence against his comrades when attempting to prevent Medical staff from turning off Commander Koenig's life support equipment. Later on, he becomes more easy going, quick with a joke and displaying an eye for the ladies, especially fellow Main Mission staffer Tanya Alexander, with whom he seems to have a casual relationship for most of Series One.

The character was originally conceived as Italian and would have been named Alphonse Catani. This would have satisfied an agreement with Italian studio RAI (who partially financed the first series) of featuring Italian actors in prominent roles. Actor Giancarlo Prete (who would later portray Alpha botanist Dan Mateo in "The Troubled Spirit") was cast, but was unwilling to commit to the scheduled twelve-month shoot in England. (It ultimately took fifteen months to complete the series' principal photography.) Nick Tate, who had been hired to play Eagle Shuttle Pilot Collins, in "Breakaway", was 'promoted' and the character rewritten to suit Tate's Australian origins.

Series two[edit]

One of the few characters to return for the second series, Alan mellowed out in these episodes and becomes among the most cheerful and outgoing residents of Alpha; his sense of humor becomes more overt and even breaks into made-up songs (see "Journey to Where" and "The Mark of Archanon". An affection for children noted in Year One's "Alpha Child" was expanded upon when he bonded with the teenaged Archanon boy Etrec.[3]

Always on excellent terms with his fellow Alphans, Carter was now on a first-name basis with John Koenig and Helena Russell. He and Tony Verdeschi seemed to have a 'best-mates' relationship and he was also friendly with Joe Ehrlich and Jack Bartlett, the two nuclear physicists who, with Carter, comprised the Radioactive Monitoring Team.[7] Still with a healthly eye for the ladies (as evidenced in "New Adam, New Eve", "The Bringers of Wonder" and "The Seance Spectre"), Carter's only real romance in Series Two was a brief encounter with the beautiful Croton ship captain Sahala in the episode "Dorzak". In this series, Carter continued to display his considerable skill in unarmed combat, and more than one menace was poleaxed by the astronaut. He was seen to assume command of Alpha in several episodes ("New Adam, New Eve" and "Space Warp").

Originally intended to be cut from the series by Fred Freiberger and replaced with another Chief Pilot character named, at first, Gary Wolusky, then Mark Macinlock, Nick Tate was noted as receiving the most fan mail so he was asked to return a mere two weeks before shooting started on the first episode of series two, "The Metamorph".


  1. ^ a b c The Moonbase Alpha Technical Manual
  2. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Dorzak"
  3. ^ a b Space: 1999 episode "The Mark of Archanon"
  4. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Journey to Where"
  5. ^ Space: 1999 episode "The Bringers of Wonder"
  6. ^ Space: 1999 episode "Dragon's Domain"
  7. ^ Space: 1999 episode "The Bringers of Wonder, Part Two"

External links[edit]