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“That is what they want from you - to learn to kill.”

Plot Summary[]

A planet of human robots...but their complete mastery over those who have created them needs one further sense. They need the emotion that will enable them to kill. Can they learn from the Alphans?[1]


Helena and Maya are trying out outfits for an upcoming party when alarms start going off for no apparent reason. They head to Command Centre to find that Alpha's power and life support systems are failing at an alarming rate. As all the systems fail the Alphans are immobilized. In a flash of light, a woman appears.

Act One[]

She moves through the crew as though she is looking for something, or someone in particular. The Alphans begin to revive, and Koenig asks the intruder who she is and what she wants. She tells him her name is Zamara and comes from the planet Vega, and that she requires two Alphans to return to Vega with her. John and Alan volunteer, but Zamara finds them unsuitable. In their stead, she selects Tony and Helena.

She allows the Alphans 48 hours of life support, and says that Tony and Helena will be returned at that time. John balks, but Zamara tells him they have no choice. In order to transport to Vega, Tony and Helena must freely wish to go. They arrive on Vega and are met by Zarl and the other Vegans. They are offered food, but when a "Number" places a dish in front of Helena, he whispers a warning, telling her not to react as they expect. He tells her that if they display aggression, they will be killed.

Helena takes a bite of the food while the Vegans watch, and nearly gags. She remains calm, and says that it is unusual. Zamara tries to elicit a reaction by calling her a liar and a decrepit hag. But Helena does not react. Tony is told to try it. Helena tries to guide his reaction, telling him the food is delicious. Tony follows her lead but is goaded by Zarl. Helena manages to diffuse the situation by saying that they are not used to hot food, telling them to "cool it".

They are locked in a room to consider their "impoliteness". Tony asks Helena what is going on. She tells him what the Number told her. He asks if he is supposed to believe a "robot". She tells Tony she did, and that they need to find that Number again to find out more. Wondering why the Vegans let him keep it, Tony uses his stun gun to blast the door open. They see a Number and follow it. He leads them to a large chamber. Inside they find a roomful of Numbers.

They tell them they are there as friends. Helena asks which is the one that warned her. There is no reaction. Helena tells them she and Tony need their help. Number 8 steps forward and removes his mask. He explains that he and the rest of the Numbers are human, and that Zamara, Zarl and the others are the androids.

Act Two[]

The Numbers wear the masks to avoid being caught off guard and displaying any strong emotions. He tells them that the androids want to kill the humans because as long as they are alive, they may find a way to shut down the master computer that controls the Vegans. Helena and Tony ask where the master computer is located, and Number 8 tells them. They thank him and set out to see if they can somehow deactivate it. Tony fires a laser at it, but it is deflected by an energy barrier.

Zarl and Zamara show up, and tell them that they were supposed to stay in their room. Helena and Tony tell them they were worried about their friends, and were looking for a way to communicate with them. Zarl asks if they are so concerned why don't they just go back to Alpha? They ask how, and are told they only need to wish it. They try, and find themselves back on Alpha, but it is deserted. They learn that Alpha is light years away from it's previous location. Unable to "wish" themselves back to Vega, where they suspect the rest of the Alphans have gone, their isolation begins to unnerve them.

Act Three[]

Helena suspects Tony of drugging her coffee, and Tony suspects Helena of turning off the life support systems. While accusing each other at gun point, they realize that they aren't alone on Alpha. Zarl and Zamara have set them up! They start to laugh, and call out the Vegans who have been watching the whole time. It seems the Vegans created an exact replica of Alpha, only to fail in their objective. Zamara transports back to the real Alpha (which is still freezing due to lack of power) for information to help them elicit a murderous rage.

After a brief exchange with Koenig, she selects Othello as the model for her plan. She now believes she can use jealousy to enrage Tony to kill. Koenig tells her it won't work because Tony doesn't love Helena, he does, Tony is in love with Maya. Zamara takes them both to Vega to try again.

Act Four[]

Maya sneaks away to disable the computer, but learns that doing so will destroy the planet. She returns as Zarl is seducing Helena in front of John, and explains the situation. Without the hope of shutting down the computer to hold him back, John grabs Zarl and punches him. Having seen violence, the Vegans are now ready to kill! Zamara orders Zarl to kill the Alphans.

As Zarl prepares to kill John, Maya explains that the androids are all linked together, and if one "link" can be broken, their collective will perish. Helena tells Zarl he is no longer like the others. John tells him to take the final step, and become human. Zarl doubles over as he evolves into something more than he was. Zamara screams as the main computer fails, shutting down the Vegans. The Numbers remove their masks as Zarl collapses.


Helena tries to comfort him, as she knows he is "dying". He tells Helena that he did feel "something", and asks if it was real. Unable to answer his question, Helena says she's sorry, but Zarl replies that it was worth it for one moment of humanity.[2]


Shooting script titled One Second Of Humanity dated 12th February 1976, line amendments and amendment pages 19th February, further amendments 24th, 25th and 26th February. Filmed 4 March-17 March 1976

International Titles[]

Country Title (Translation)
Belgium (Flemish) Even Mens zijn
Spain Un momento de humanidad (A moment of humanity)
France/Canada Humain, ne serait-ce qu'un moment (Human, just for a moment)
Italy Vega
Japan Temptation of the Space Androids
Poland Chwila czlowieczenstwa (A moment of humanity)
Portugal Um Momento de Humanidade (One Moment of Humanity)
South Africa 'n Oomblik van Menslikheid (A Moment Of Humanity)


  • Int. Command Centre
  • Int. Medical Centre
  • Int. Power Room
  • Int. Life Support Centre
  • Int. Recreation Centre
  • Int. Helena's Quarters
  • Int. Alpha Corridor
  • Int. Garden Of Vega
  • Int. Vega Room
  • Int. Master Computer/Vega Corrdior
  • Int. Vega Corridor
  • Int. Cave


No model effects (there is one shot of the Vega surface and one of Vega over Alpha, both recycled from Death's Other Dominion).

The star cluster seen on the Big Screen showing the Moon's position was previously seen in Into Infinity. It also appears in The Taybor. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.


Original score by Derek Wadsworth, recorded Tuesday 4th May 1976 at the Music Centre, Wembley.

The dance music, Gino Vannelli's "Storm At Sun-Up", was selected by choreographer Lionel Blair before the episode was shot.

Zamara selects Beethoven's 9th Symphony from the Alphan library. The extract is from the second molto vivace part.


In 1983 the star Vega was found to have a proto-solar system, a dust disc around the star from which planets may form. It was the first evidence that solar systems could exist outside of our own.

The Vegans speak English (although they could have taken this information from the Moonbase computer). They also use Arabic numerals (1,2,3 etc).

Vega has a thin atmosphere and subzero temperatures, insufficient to support human life. How did the Vegans evolve? Possibly the Vega sun had a recent fluctuation (if it got hotter, the warmed gases would escape the planet gravity and the atmosphere would thin, the planet would then become colder).

Matter transportation is by "positronic transfer". Positrons are the antimatter form of electrons. When they encounter normal electrons, both are turned into energy. In other words, this mechanism would create a massive explosion through the roof of Alpha, the Vega surface, and the interplanetary gases between them.


Chronology: 515 days after leaving Earth orbit (Fri 9 Feb 2001)

Alpha Personnel: 0 fatalities.

Alpha Technology: The Atmosphere Control seems to make Alpha very vulnerable. The hatch design is identical to the Essential Services hatch seen in other episodes. Helena uses the Alpha Log Recorder in her living quarters.

Eagles: None

Maya transformations: Hairstyle, beetle, parrot (Green-Wing Macaw)

Planets: Vega

Aliens: Zarl and Zamara, Vegan androids, and the "numbers", humanoids.

Props: The orange jacket worn by Maya was worn by Koenig in Dragon's Domain, a guard in The Testament of Arkadia and Picard in The Metamorph. Prison corridors are revamped from The Metamorph, Devil's Planet and The Dorcons. The Garden of Vega is a revamped set from The Metamorph. The main computer uses Bethan screens from The Last Enemy, perspex domes from The Exiles and polystrene balls from Guardian of Piri.

Cast: Choreographer Lionel Blair is a well known UK TV personality; he is the brother of actress Isla Blair (War Games, Journey to Where). Laraine Humphrys plays a Vegan. She is an Alphan in End of Eternity and The Taybor.


Why can't the androids just kill the humans dispassionately - why do they need to use hate or violence? They give the real Alpha just two days of life support, after which they would die, and if they wanted to do it faster, they nearly do it in the replica Alpha by turning off the air. Also the electro-forcefield that immobilises the Alphans could, as Helena says, easily kill them. Alan also demonstrates violence by shooting Zamara in the Recreation Centre. Punching, by comparison, is more brutal but is an inefficient way to kill someone.

"Emotion is a weakness. We must use it, but never become ensnared." Destroying the humans is easily achieved without emotion (and more efficiently too).

Othello is not necessarily a good model for the Vegans; he says: "An honourable murderer, if you will. For naught I did in hate, but all in honour." If Koenig were to copy Othello, he would kill Helena (for her betrayal in kissing Zarl), not attack Zarl.

How do the Alphans return to the moon after the Vegans are disabled? Can they use the "positronic transfer"?

The concept of disabling one element to shut down all the others was also used in the films Independence Day and Star Wars The Phantom Menace (1999).

The parrots are Green-Wing Macaws (also called Red-and-green Macaw, Ara chloroptera), one of the largest parrots with a red head and breast and green and blue wings. Other species of parrot (Scarlet Macaw and Blue and Yellow Macaw) appear in Matter of Life and Death.


  1. [1]Equates to Non Time Warp date of 16 March 2004. See Alpha v Non Time Warp Dates for a more detailed explanation of Second Season Story Dates.


Season 2
The Metamorph I The Exiles I One Moment of Humanity I All That Glisters I The Mark of Archanon I Journey to Where I The Taybor I The Rules of Luton I New Adam New Eve I Brian the Brain I Catacombs of the Moon I The AB Chrysalis I The Beta Cloud I Seed of Destruction I A Matter of Balance I Space Warp I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 1 I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 2 I Dorzak I The Seance Spectre I Devil's Planet I The Lambda Factor I The Immunity Syndrome I The Dorcons
Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.