We did eight episodes and then it was all over.
I was still kicking and screaming when they pushed me onto the set to film the final scene. “It can’t end like this!” I shouted at the director, undignified. “This is all wrong.” Indignant. “I love you-“ Embarassing. “ACTION!” And then I was tearing possessed around the control room, wailing and trying to tear rubber props apart while the lights grew hotter and brighter, and dessicated coconut fell all around us. One of the special effects gurus had explained to me that they used dessicated coconut to make it look like everything was disintegrating, burning up and falling apart in bright white shards as the ship re-entered the earth’s atmosphere. Our staged oblivion smelt like, and tasted of, macaroons. I ranted and raved. “CUT!” End of episode eight.
A few months later, episode eight was broadcast. I was sitting alone at home in a comfortable armchair, watching on a widescreen telly, safe in the knowledge that the show had been resurrected and that I would be back on set in a few months’ time to reprise my role as Captain Biff Tendermouth. A new director had taken the project on, the writers had found a way for us to survive, I should have been happy. But watching the final scene, I found that I could not suspend my disbelief to see a despairing Captain trying to keep control of a crashing and burning spaceship. All I could see was myself – crumbling, clawing, clutching, burning up and falling apart for everyone to see. This was nothing to do with fiction, this was me.
Coconut sparks erupted all around as the world shook and broke. Salty tears dripped from my cheeks into my packet of ready salted crisps.