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The Time Tunnel



This was the third science-fiction television show from Irwin Allen. There were 30 one-hour colour episodes of this American series, originally screened in 1966. In 1964 ABC approached Allen to produce a time travel series for them. It’s possible that the inspiration came from a book by Murray Leinster, ‘The Time Tunnel’, published the same year. In the book a time tunnel existed in an alleyway in Paris through which art dealers travelled back to the Napoleonic era to steal artefacts.


Time TunnelTime Tunnel Shimon Wincelberg, who had scripted the ‘Lost In Space’ pilot under the name S. Barr David, was commissioned to write ‘The Time Tunnel’ pilot and penned ‘The Man Who Killed Time’.

Dr Peter Phillips acts as a guinea pig, enters the Time Tunnel and finds himself on the Titanic.
Discovering that his father and grandmother are aboard, he sets out to save the ship from disaster. Allen and 20th Century Fox approved the script, but ABC rejected it and Harold Jack Bloom was brought in to make revisions. The series concerned a scientific project Tic-Toc, based in a secret location underneath the Nevada Desert, where billions of dollars have been used in developing a device to travel in time.In 1967, because of the vast sums of money spent, an American Senator, Leroy Clerk, arrives for a demonstration.

Scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips have been working on the project for ten years and are close to a breakthrough. Clerk argues that the tunnel is simply an expensive toy and announces his intention to ask Congress to cancel the funding.

Although the invention is untested, scientist Tony Newman enters the tunnel during the night and activates the controls – but an electrical fault results in him being marooned in time – on the deck of the Titanic – with the suggestion that they are caught in a time warp. As it was a 20th Century Fox production, the show utilised shots from Fox's vast library of historical costume movies.

Among the places visited and the events witnessed by the two time travellers are: a coal mine in America in 1910; Pearl Harbour in 1942 where Tony meets his younger self and discovers the fate of his father; the explosion on Krakatoa in 1883; the siege of Troy; the Battle of the Little Big Horn; the French Revolution; the American Civil War; the Battle of the Alamo; World War Two and a spaceship bound for Mars in 1978.
They also meet a host of historical characters, including Robin Hood, Marco Polo, Kublai Khan, Merlin, Ulysses, Cortez, General Custer, Rudyard Kipling and Napoleon.

The series featured James Darren as Dr. Tony Newman and Robert Colbert as Dr. Doug Phillips. Other regulars were Whit Bissell at Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk, Lee Meriwether as Dr. Ann McGregor, John Zerma as Dr. Raymond Swaid and Wesley Lau as Master Sgt. Jiggs. Guests in the series included Michael Rennie, Carroll O’ Connor, Robert Dowell and John Saxon.

A second series had been planned, but was cancelled by ABC on the grounds that it was too expansive and couldn’t compete with the programmes on the rival channels at the same time: ‘Wild Wild West’ on CBS and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ on NBC.
Despite the promising concept, Allen interfered with the scripts, cutting out some of the more interesting ideas and reducing the dialogue to basics.


Combined with the two-dimensional characters, the series was fated to end earlier than anticipated. Fox later edited the pilot and ten episodes into five television movies which were successfully syndicated in 1983.
Time TunnelTime Tunnel

Time TunnelLee Meriwether Irwin Allen, born on 24th November 1905, was noted for his ‘disaster’ spectaculars and TV sci-fi series. Allen first began writing in the Thirties when he was editor of Key magazine. He began writing, directing and producing radio shows the next year and in 1944 began a literary agency. It was in 1951 that he produced a series of films, including ‘The Story Of Mankind’, ‘The Big Circus’, ‘The Lost World’, ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’ and ‘Five Weeks In A Balloon.’ From 1962 he became active in television when he produced a number of sci-fi series including ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’, ‘Lost In Space’, ‘The Time Tunnel’ and ‘Land Of The Giants.’ In the Seventies he became associated with blockbuster ‘disaster’ movies including ‘The Poseidon Adventure’, ‘Towering Inferno’, ‘The Swarm’, ‘Beyond The Poseidon Adventure’ and ‘The Day The World Ended.’

In 1978 he intended launching a new regular television series, similar to ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’, following his pilot mini-series ‘The Amazing Captain Nemo’, but the ratings didn’t impress the American networks. Allen died on 17th November 1987.


Episode titles were: Rendezvous With Yesterday; One Way To The Moon; End Of The World; The Day The Sky Fell Down; The Last Patrol; The Crack Of Doom; Revenge of the Gods; Massacre; Devil’s Island; Reign of Terror; Secret Weapon; The Death Trip; The Alamo; The Night Of The Long Knives; Invasion; Robin Hood; Kill Two by Two ; Visitors From Beyond the Stars; The Ghost Of Nero; The Walls Of Jericho; Idol of Death; Billy The Kid; Pirates of Dead Man’s Island; Chase Through Time; The Death Merchant; Attack Of The Barbarians; Merlin the Magician; the Kidnappers; Raiders From Outer Space; Town of Terror.
Irwin Allen



The Legend of Time Tunnel Further reading and information:

The Legend of Time Tunnel
by Marcelo Abeal

Marcelo Abeal was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He discovered his artistic calling when he was a small boy and performed in school plays. Thus he studied professional acting and also developed an intense physical activity. His first jobs were as a model in photo campaigns for prestigious brands and progressed to participation in several co-production feature films.

As a consequence, he continued his career as a model in Europe. When he returned to Argentina he founded his own company: "Stunt Rubber Man" (risk stunt doubles). He also participated as the Assistant Director Seminary, S.I.C.A. (Argentine Cinematography Industry Union).

Nowadays he is Director of "Planeta Mau", his representative artistic agency and he is the author of The Legend of Time Tunnel, a tribute to Irwin Allen, creator and producer of the legendary TV series.


Click image for more book and Time Tunnel information.



Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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