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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....[1]



Moonbase Alpha is traveling through a region of space, which they have named the "Peace Zone" because of it's lack of nearby stars, or space storms. It seems to lack any potential threat. All should be well on Alpha, but isn't. They are troubled by sporadic disturbances and petty irritations. One source of irritation is Sally Martin, who can't seem to complete her stores inventory on schedule. As a result, she has been ordered to complete her duties during her recreation period. While Sally is doing her inventory, objects start to move about the store room, and a wind appears. Sally attempts to leave, but the doors close, shutting her in. She then seeks shelter from the tempest in a sub-room, but the door shatters, and the storm follows her in. She screams as it exerts tremendous force upon her.

Act One:[]

Meanwhile, John tosses and turns as his sleep is disturbed by a vision of a woman accusing him of killing her. He wakes as Helena calls him to the Medical store room. He arrives and learns of mysterious circumstances of Sally's death. He is clearly agitated as he orders Helena and Tony to provide him with whatever information they can, so he can begin an investigation. He goes to Command Centre, only to find that the sensors are malfunctioning due to a strange space phenomenon. He snaps at Maya as she struggles to give him an explanation with the minimal information the sensors can provide.

Tensions are also high in the Recreation Area, as George Crato assumes Carl Renton is cheating when he keeps beating him at one of the games. Tony arrives and breaks things up as George attacks Carl physically. He sends them both on their way, then tells Sally's ex-fiancé Mark Sanders and his current girlfriend (and room-mate of the now deceased Sally), Carolyn Powell, of her passing. Helena has finished her autopsy, and tells John that Sally's body was shattered internally, with no evidence of any type of weapon having been used.

John and Tony meet with Sanders to discuss his relationship with Sally. They interview Carolyn next, and she becomes hostile when Tony asks her about her research on some sort of pressure device. Tony goes to her lab to look at the device. When Carolyn shows up, he asks her to explain it to him. She smashes it, and tells Tony that now it can't be blamed for the next murder. He asks if she is expecting a "next murder". She asks him if he isn't.

Alan is investigating the fact that three quarters of the Eagles are non-operational. He talks to Chief Engineer Pete Garforth, who doesn't understand why engines that test OK on the work bench fail when put back into the Eagles. When Pete is called away, Alan takes a quick look around. Before he can leave, an engine starts by itself, and begins to overload. Alan tries to shut it off but can't. He tries to leave but the doors close and won't open. Tony and Maya pass by and hear the engine.

Act Two:[]

Alan tries to warn them off, but Maya turns into a gorilla, pries the doors open, and disconnects the power to the motor. Back in Command Centre Maya detects what she thinks are lambda waves coming from the object in space. Helena then identifies the waves as the lambda variant, a wave discovered during research into ESP. Helena begins testing the Alphans to see if they are being affected by these waves. With her tests completed, she goes to John's quarters to show him her data. It's late, but he's awake.

She begins to share her findings, but notices that he doesn't seem well. She tries to give him some-thing to help him sleep, which he refuses. He tells her he is afraid to sleep, and about the visions that have been terrorizing him. Mark visits Carolyn to tell her that he can't shake the feeling that she had something to do with Sally's death. He tells her that she's changed, and it just won't work out. He leaves her. A short while later the lights dim in the corridor he is walking, and a wind begins to blow. Maya detects an energy surge from the object over Alpha, as Carolyn Powell kills Mark, in the same way she killed Sally.

Act Three:[]

When his body is found, Tony is certain that Carolyn is the killer, but Helena asks for another series of tests to be sure. Tony insists on being there. As early reports from the tests are received in Command Centre, Sandra tries to pass the information on to Koenig, who is distracted by the "ghosts" of Sam and Tessa, two friends he was forced to leave behind on mission to Venus when they contracted a strange, and highly contagious illness. He runs from the room trying to get away from his visions. Helena is finishing her testing with Carolyn Powell, the only one capable of generating the lambda variant in a room shielded from the object over Alpha. Tony asks Carolyn to come with him, and she responds by telepathically knocking him, a security guard, and Helena across the room. She leaves.

As the others pick themselves up, Sandra alerts Helena to the fact that Koenig has locked himself in his room and won't come out. They leave to check on John and find him locked in his quarters in a catatonic state. Helena has him brought to Medical Centre where she uses narcosynthesis to help him face, and overcome his fears. Tony orders security to stun Carolyn on sight. She easily quells any attempt to stun her, and makes her way to Command Center, where she sits right down in Koenig's chair. Alan tells her she is "out of place". She sends him to flight control with a telepathic suggestion, and immobilizes the rest of the Command Centre staff. Tony shows up and she forces him to kneel before her, and call her "Commander".

Act Four:[]

Helena's treatment begins to take effect, and John sees his "ghosts" again. He tries to run, but Helena forces him to face, and confront, his fears. In talking to his visions of Sam and Tessa, he realizes that his friends knew he had no other choice but to leave them, and that what he is seeing are not the ghosts of his friends. Maya arrives in Command Center and Carolyn forces her to change into a monkey, then a caterpillar. She threatens to crush Maya before Tony's eyes but decides to let her suffocate slowly, in a small clear box, instead.

Helena tells John her theory that the object over Alpha is magnifying the emotional state of the ESP "sensitives", the two most powerful being Carolyn and he, who then used the power of the object to manifest their hatred and fears respectively. Sandra is forced to call to tell them that Carolyn has taken command and wants to see Koenig. When they get there, Carolyn tells them that she is in Command now.

Koenig tells her he knows that she wants them to hate her so she can turn the power of their hate against them. But Koenig tells her that they have no hate for her. She screams at him to hate her, telling him that she hates him. But they have no hate for her. With only her own hate to latch on to, all hell breaks loose around her, but no one else is hurt. Carolyn eventually collapses and the object over Alpha fades away, leaving Carolyn's mind completely blank.


A few quick tests reveals that the Alphans have been returned to their original "un-magical" selves, something which Koenig does not regret in the least.[2]


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).[1]

International Titles[]

Country Title Translation
Belgium (Flemish) Facteur Lambda Lambda Factor
France/Canada L'élément lambda The Lambda Element
Italy Onde Lambda Lambda Waves
Japan ラムダファクター Murder Case of Lambda Supernatural Transformation Power
Poland Czynnik Lambda Lambda Factor
Portugal O Factor Lambda The Lambda Factor
Portugal O Duelo das Mentes Duel Of The Minds
Spain El factor lambda 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.[1]


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".


""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.[N 1]


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

Alpha Personnel: 2 fatalities, Sally Martin, Mark Sanders.

Alpha Technology: Helena uses the Alpha Log Recorder.

The Venus space station crew wear Year 2 uniforms (Sam has a red collar, Tessa a white collar).[N 2]

Items in the Tech Lab include the Space Warp detector and a mobile nuclear generator.

Helena's lambda wave booth uses the Ellendorf Quadrographic Brain Complex from The Bringers of Wonder - Part 1 and Catacombs of the Moon.

Props: Sally Martin's hand held device

Eagles: None

Maya transformations: Chimpanzee, green caterpillar, tiger, "gorilla".

Maya changes straight from an ape into a green caterpillar. This contradicts The Rules of Luton, where she cannot change directly from one form into another.
Editor's note: It's possible that she acquired this capability at some point.

Planets: None

Aliens: None

Props: Apart from chess, one of the games in the Recreation Centre is Connect 4

The number displays on the electronic craps are from Weapons Centre.

The mobile nuclear generator is also seen in A Matter of Balance and the Pigs In Space segments of The Muppet Show.

The lambda variant forcefield booth is reused as the Entra-Ellna matter transmission booth in Devil's Planet.

Ghosts also appear in The Troubled Spirit.


As the Medical Stores door is torn apart, hands can be seen ripping it open.

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. [N 3]



  1. 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).
  2. The Year 2 uniforms could be inspired by, or even directly copied from, an earlier style of uniform.
  3. Note in the original script Carolyn shows signs of regret and guilt.


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.