The Catacombs Episode Guide

The Lambda Factor

The Bringers of Wonder Part 2 Year 2 - Episode 19 The Seance Spectre

Writer Terrance Dicks
Director Charles Crichton
Guest stars Deborah Fallender,
Jess Conrad
Belgium (Flemish) Lambda Factor
France/Canada L'élément lambda The Lambda Element
Italy Onde Lambda Lambda Waves
Japan Murder Case of Lambda Supernatural Transformation Power
Poland Czynnik Lambda
Portugal O Factor Lambda The Lambda Factor
Portugal O Duelo das Mentes Duel Of The Minds
Spain El factor lambda The lambda factor

A pretty, young Alpha technician dies a horrible and unexplained death. Dr. Russell's experiments reveal that one of the crew is possessed of paranormal mental powers and is trying to take control of Moonbase Alpha....


  • Shooting script dated 6th August 1976. Revised 2, 15, 27, 28, 29th September and 5th October 1976
  • Shooting schedule dated 22nd September 1976. Filmed 29th Sept - 15th Oct 1976
  • The chimp was amused by the frozen people and tried climbing over them, slobbering in their face, turning upside down to get a reaction. At one point he climbed to the floor and clung to Zienia's leg affectionately
  • On 7th October, there was a school visit. The children, with teacher Alan Benson, visited Bray Studios (filming the domes from The Bringers Of Wonder part 1), and Pinewood (seeing a re-shot of Koenig's confrontation with the ghosts). More details.
The Lambda Factor


Int. Command Centre
Int. Medical Centre
Int. Medical Stores/ Substore Room
Int. Recreation Centre
Int. Research Room (revamp Reception)
Int. Engineering
Int. Koenig's Quarters
Int. Caroline's Quarters
Int. Alpha Corridor

The Recreation Center set has windows to the surface, unusual in a Year Two set. It is seen again in The Seance Spectre


  • The only "model" SFX are the shots of the spiral (a geometric pattern with explosions superimposed over).
  • Most SFX are studio effects, including compressed air to blow objects and superimposing the "ghosts".
The Lambda Factor



  • "Normally the human brain swings between alpha waves and beta waves. But sometimes lambda waves are thrown off. Rarely, very rarely, the lambda variant. It was discovered during research on E S P and other paranormal powers of the human mind." Brain electrical activity includes alpha, beta, theta and delta waves. They are not transmitted in any way (it is just internal activity within the brain). No-one has yet found any evidence of ESP (telepathy or mind reading), let alone an associated wave pattern.
  • Extra-sensory perception, ESP, is a common motif in science fiction and is periodically investigated but there is no evidence it exists.
  • Narcosynthesis is a method of narcotherapy used extensively after world war 2 for treating war neuroses. It involves injecting a narcotic to induce complete relaxation, a feeling of well being and a desire to communicate. Repressed memories and conflicts are then discussed with the therapist, who guides the patient in free association and dream recall. Most of the discussion actually takes place after the session (a variation is narcosuggestion in which the therapist gives assurance and advice during the drugged state). This is not what Helena does. She uses a Freudian technique called "controlled exposure", in which the patient confronts their central anxieties. It is not always successful and some therapists now favour helping the patient forget their anxieties.


  • The Space Cloud is full of "electrically charged particles". In technical terms it is a largely ionised small nebula.
  • The Venus space station was mentioned in The Exiles. It is not specified how the "Venusian plague" reached the space station. Koenig asserts that if the disease was brought back to Earth, an epidemic would have killed millions of people. Scientifically, life on Venus, even at virus level, is very unlikely because of the harsh atmosphere. It is plausible that a space mission may carry an Earth virus, perhaps deliberately for experiments. Accidental contamination in the confined environment of a space station, with the resources of Earth far away, would be devastating. The virulence of the disease could be accounted for by a mutation, due to space radiation or an experimental mutagenesis. It is surprising Helena, a doctor responsible for a large space station, does not know the details (although she may not know Koenig's part in it).
The Lambda Factor



2308 days after leaving Earth orbit (Sat 7 Jan 2006)

Alpha Personnel:

2 fatalities, Sally Martin, Mark Sanders.

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Alpha Technology:

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Maya transformations:

Chimpanzee, green caterpillar, tiger, "gorilla".

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The Lambda Factor
As the Medical Stores door is torn apart, hands can be seen ripping it open.
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Note that in some shots, Tessa and Sam are reversed, with the badges on the opposite side.


  • Maya wears another poor gorilla suit.
  • The force shown in this episode seems to boost purely negative feelings; Carolyn uses her victims' fear against themselves (so Sally dies of internal injuries, not flying projectiles). Only Carolyn uses the power; the others are afraid and caught in a self-destructive loop. Koenig's guilt is exaggerated and causes him to withdraw into himself. Renton is afraid of winning, but continues to do so. Similarly, Garforth is convinced the metal bar cannot bend. By contrast, the experiments they excel at (Zenor cards, ball rolling) show positive manipulative powers which is contradictory. Note in the original script Carolyn shows signs of regret and guilt.
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Contents copyright Martin Willey