S.H.A.D.O.
video Phone

History, episode usage and modifications

Last updated: 23rd of May 2019

The original Video Phone - as seen in UFO - was first seen in the film 'Doppelgänger' or its alternate title 'Journey to the far side of the Sun', a 1969 British science fiction film produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and Donald James.

Many actors from UFO also appeared in the film, most notably: Ed Bishop (David Poulson: NASA Liaison), George Sewell (Mark Neuman), Norma Ronald (Pam Kirby), Vladek Sheybal (Dr Beauvilleand), Keith Alexander (Flight Director), Basil Moss (Monitoring Station) and Jeremy Wilkin (Launch Control Technician) together with many others.

The Art Director of the film was Bob Bell, the Special Effects Supervisor was of course, the one and only Derek Meddings, and most importantly in the context of this project and the Video Phone itself, the Instrumentation and Special Props by Don Fagan of Century 21 Film Props.

The Video Phone is first seen in the office of Jason Webb (12 minutes and 28 seconds) into the film. The Video Phone displays colour video and it is evident that the colour video sequence showing Norma Ronald's character was superimposed (Double Exposure or Superimposition) whereby the two film sequences appeared simultaneously with the overlay (Norma Ronald’s sequence) superimposed over the main static shot) and shown in place of the Video Phone’s screen into the film as the position of the Video Phone is static throughout the shot and once again a short while afterwards.
NB: It is interesting to note that at no time are there any cables connected to either of the two circular connector holes at the rear right of the Video Phone at Jason Webb's desk.

During the course of filming UFO, certain modifications were made to the design of the Video Phone. The most notable changes were: the addition of two rows of upper ventilation slots, and the two rear input holes were elongated.

By carefully watching all the first seventeen episodes, it is clear that the Video Phone was unmodified during this time with just the two input holes which were presumably for mains feed and a video input. However, when production of UFO resumed at Pinewood, episode #18 “The Sound of Silence”, the Video Phone always appeared with the two elongated holes at rear bottom right.

I have made the assumption that the two rows of slots on the top of the unit were for ventilation. When operating with a circa 1969 CRT (cathode ray tube) and associated electronics, a large amount of heat would have been generated by the power supply, the electronics and tube itself. Under the studio lights, these would have got really quite hot.

In certain episodes, it is possible to see that there is a circular hole underneath the casing just behind the video camera as well; these would have allowed cooler air to be drawn up into the casing and then discharged through the two rows of slots at top, thus helping to cool the video phone. During various episodes, two domed screw heads (sometimes silver, sometimes matching the colour of the Video Phone) may be seen at the back of the video phone, centred just above and to the left of the two input holes/slots. I am making the assumption that these were screws to secure the rear removable panel of the video phone. It is possible that these two screw heads were there during all the episodes, and just weren’t visible due to the lighting, but, in some episodes - in close up shots - it is possible to see that the screw heads are not visible.

Miscellaneous
The Video Phone was also shown in use by a number of other characters in UFO, namely:
Conflict: Starting at 7:31 minutes into the episode on General Henderson’s desk, and later at 15:00 minutes, and then also 29:35 minutes.
E.S.P.: Starting at 5:03 minutes into the episode, on Doctor Ashvale’s (Dr. A. Brűnner’s?) desk, and then later starting at 34.22 minutes.
The Cat With Ten Lives: Starting at 39.41 minutes, visible on the desk in Doctor Jackson’s office/laboratory.

VIDEO PHONE
UFO Episode Research #1

The following tables and video frames show ALL the appearances (including viewing timings) of the Video Phone in all 26 episodes of UFO shown in production order. The Video Phone had a few modifications made during production: these changes have been outlined in the tables and video frame text.

01 identified

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
09:53
11:16
This is the first time the Video Phone is shown in UFO: in this shot it is placed on the far left corner of Commander Straker's desk. This scene is where we see Commander Straker and Colonel Freeman in their SHADO roles for the first time.
At 10:06 Commander Straker uses one of the Centre Selection Switches to display a photo of the destroyed Westbrook Electronics building on the wall display screen mounted in the wall opposite his desk. At 10:13 Commander Straker uses the Number 3 Selector Switch to change to the next image on the wall display. During this scene it can be seen that there are NO cables attached to the two circular connector holes at the bottom right rear of the Video Phone. There are also NO ventilation slots at the top of the casing.
At 10:13, it can also be seen that the selector switches A-G are set to their HOME position, whereas switches 1-8 are ALL set forward ON, and lastly, selector switches K, L, M and N are also set to ON.

NB: At no time during this entire episode is the Video Phone display seen functioning (there is NO two-way video/sound communications.)
17:19
17:46
The Video Phone is shown at various points during the conversation between Cmdr. Straker and Lt. Ford.
33.50
34:45
The Video Phone is shown at various points during the conversation between Cmdr. Straker and Col. Freeman.
35:26
35.39
The Video Phone speaker buzzes, and Cmdr. Straker uses one of the Centre Selection Switches to enable communications with a medical officer at Mayland Hospital, who states that the 'special patient' has arrived. Cmdr. Straker then uses a Centre Selection Switch to close the communication.
43:07
45:18
The Video Phone is shown almost square on from the right hand side: again, there are NO cables shown connected to the Video Phone.

02 Computer affair

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
09:03
10:03
During this scene (between Commander Straker and Colonel Freeman) it can be seen that there are NO cables attached to the two circular connector holes at the bottom right rear of the Video Phone, and also NO ventilation slots at the top of the casing.
12:18
12:41
The rear of the Video Phone can be clearly seen, including two shiny roundhead screwheads that would appear to secure the rear panel.
12:49
13:49
The Video Phone can be seen whilst Commander Straker is grilling Lt. Ellis, Astronaut Bradley and Astronaut Waterman over the reasons for the loss of Interceptor One. Once again, it can be clearly seen that there are no ventilation slots on top and either side of the fin on the Video Phone.
14:31
14:39
Commander Straker is alerted by an audio beep from the Video Phone. It can be seen that he presses 'one' of the centre selection switches to initiate the audio communications, and once again to terminate the call.
22:14
23:09
There is a visible gap between the Video Phone and the surface of Commander Straker's desk: approximately 1cm. 
25:48
26:11
A clear rear oblique view of the Video Phone. In this clip the surface reflectivity of the Video Phone and the rear of the Selector Switch housing can be clearly seen.
38:15
38:53
A right front-oblique shot showing clearly the displacement in the Video Phone front panel bezel, tube displacement insert and the display tube.
43:06
43:54
A clear shot of the top front of the Video Phone; again minus the ventilation slots. In this shot, the Video Phone has been slightly moved in and along Commander Straker's desk. Once again, no cables.
44:28
46:08
A clear rear oblique view of the Video Phone. In this clip the surface reflectivity of the Video Phone is quite visible.

03 Flight Path

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
18:29
20:08
Here we can see the Video Phone placed obliquely on the right hand side of Commander Straker's desk. Once again, we can see that there are no vent slots on the top of the Video Phone.
At 19:13 we see for the first time a direct Black and White (looks blue and black) video feed from the Psycho-Analytic Department where Paul Roper is being interrogated by Dr. Shroeder.
At 19:18 there is a very useful tight-in shot of the Video Phone display screen.
21:25
22:07
At 21:54 we see Commander Straker initiate an all-departments Yellow Alert announcement using one of the centre (1-8) selection switches, then leaving the channel open, he announces that Colonel Freeman is to release Paul Roper in once hour: there is a nice close in shot of Commander Straker pressing the key, then releasing it.
At 21:58 it can be seen that there are no cables connected to the rear of the Video Phone.
At 22:02 it is possible to see a circular vent hole just behind the Mini-Camera mounting.
30:06
30:29
Once again, we see the Video Phone is placed obliquely on the right hand side of Commander Straker's desk: again, no cables are attached.
At 30:27 we see Commander Straker initiate a call (using one of the centre selection switches) to send a couple of SHADO Guards to Paul Roper's house.
34:25
34:25
A clear view of the Video Phone on the right hand side of Commander Straker's desk. It can be clearly seen that ALL the Selection Switches are in their home position.
35:19
35:56
Occasionally obscured views of the Video Phone from a left hand viewpoint.

04 Survival

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
07:54
08:51
The SHADO Video Phone is only seen once during this episode. Again, there are no visible cables connected to the Video Phone.
At 08:46 Commander Straker uses one of the Selector Switches to ask when the next trip to Moonbase. It is interesting to note that he holds down the switch down for the full duration of the call. Unfortunately, Colonel Freeman obscures the view of the Video Phone throughout this sequence.

05 exposed

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
01:32
01:45
Cmdr. Straker is at his desk, the Video Phone is just visible in its usual position on his desk. At 01:47 we hear the Video Phone buzzer beep twice, and at 01:51 we hear - but do not see - Cmdr. Straker press one of the Selection Switches (out of view) to connect with Lt. Ford in SHADO Control.
14:46
14:49
The Video Phone is seen in its usual position on Cmdr. Straker's desk. There are no cables seen connected to the Video Phone.
21.54
22:05
The Video Phone is seen in its usual position on Cmdr. Straker's desk, although in this clip it is mostly obscured by Col. Freeman.
31:59
32:07
The Video Phone is seen in its usual position on Cmdr. Straker's desk. There are no cables seen connected to the Video Phone.
42:05
42:13
The Video Phone is seen in its usual position on Cmdr. Straker's desk. There are no cables seen connected to the Video Phone.
At 42:10 Cmdr. Straker uses the Video Phone to ask Col. Freeman to "wheel them in" the staff involved in 'Project Foster', he disconnects at 42:13.
44:39
44:44
Cmdr. Straker uses one of the Selection Switches on the Video Phone to close his sliding office doors.
44:55
46:04
Cmdr. Straker heads for his desk and at 46:00 uses one of the Centre Selection Switches to request a call to Moonbase.

06 CONFLICT

Start
 End
 M:S
VIDEO PHONE comments and observations
17:53
18:22
Cmdr. Straker is at his desk. We hear the Video Phone buzzer sound, and Lt. Nina Barry announces, "Colonel Freeman for you." At 18:00 Cmdr. Straker presses one of the Video Phone keys and we see and hear Colonel Freeman on the video display: it is a nice close up of the display, the 'Mini-Camera' and the loudspeaker grill.
At 18:18 we see Cmdr. Straker release one of the switches and the video call is disconnected.
29:35
30:18
In General Henderson's office at the Astro Physical Commission, we see a Video Phone on the far left rear corner of General Henderson's desk: again, there are no connecting cables shown.
32:38
33:29
A view of Cmdr. Straker's Video Phone in its usual place on his desk. 
34:48
34:54
A view of Cmdr. Straker's Video Phone in its usual place on his desk.
37:35
37.42
A view of the Video Phone from the other side of Cmdr. Straker's office door. Once again, the Video Phone has no connecting cables visible.
NB: After Gen. Henderson has entered Cmdr. Straker's office shortly followed by Cmdr. Straker, the office doors close seemingly automatically.
42:26
42:31
Out of view, but Cmdr. Straker presses one of the Video Phone switches (a click can be heard) to open his office door, giving Gen. Henderson the chance to leave.

NB: At 07:31 (ending at 08:31) an unconnected Video Phone can be seen on General Henderson's desk: rear left oblique. Also, once again at 14:59 and 15:37.

VIDEO PHONE: UFO Episode Research