TX. 29th December 1966
A single clip (b/w 16mm film) and one
extended audio extract exist from this production.
Story Context: Larry Belmont (Barry Warren) is an ambitious executive of
a company keen to conduct a field experiment involving a new range of
‘domestic’ robots. The experiment is to take place at his own home, much
to the anxiety of his wife Claire (Wendy Craig). His first step is allay
her concerns about the safety of the new robot, a machine
indistinguishable from a man and known simply as TN-3 or ‘Tony’ (Hal
A section lasting approximately two and a
half minutes exists from Scene 4 of the play, in which a bemused Claire
is introduced to Tony for the first time and is initially skeptical of
its non-human status.
The clip derives from an edition of the
BBC-1 science documentary series Towards Tomorrow entitled
Robot (TX. 28/12/67, Produced by Ramsay Short). This edition
contained a large amount of interview material featuring Isaac Asimov,
in which he related his thoughts on current trends in the field of
Robotics. (Frame-grabs of the opening title sequence can be seen below). The Satisfaction Guaranteed clip was used in an early
segment of the programme, in order to illustrate Asimov’s reflections on
the various reasons for disregarding purely functional considerations in
robot design and create robots in the shape and form of humans.
The clip begins as Claire, Larry Belmont
and Tony, along with company Robo-psychologist Dr Jensen (Ann Firbank)
gather together in the living room of the Belmont’s home. Asimov’s
narration (a continuation of the interview footage which precedes the
clip) obscures the first thirteen seconds of the extract’s soundtrack in
the first two shots. The lost dialogue is outlined below:
As Dr Jensen and TN-3 sit, Claire turns
in consternation to Larry:
Claire: How long will you be away?
Larry: Two or three weeks. Three at the
Claire: Three weeks...!
Larry: I know – it’s a nuisance. And I
loathe leaving you on your own for so long.
Dr Jensen: Mrs. Belmont won’t be quite on
The play’s soundtrack then cuts in, with
Larry turning to Claire and saying: “Claire, while we’re away, we’d like
you to take charge of TN-3”. Since Clare looks at him blankly, Jensen
goes on to explain: “TN-3 is a robot”.
Claire protests against the idea, and
Larry attempts to calm her by pointing out that TN-3 is fully programmed
– she “won’t even have to press a button”. When Claire suggests leaving
the robot somewhere else, Larry explains that their field-test “isn’t
quite legal”, since domestic robots aren’t as yet permitted by law - as
a result, nobody must know about ‘Tony’. Again Claire looks at him
blankly, to which Larry responds by adding: “I mean that he’s a robot”.
Claire is incredulous at this, and
refuses to believe that the ‘person’ sat opposite her, apparently
listening politely, is anything less than human. On Larry’s suggestion,
Claire then gingerly feels for Tony’s (non-existent) pulse. Dr Jensen
then suggests that if Claire is still not convinced, she can demonstrate
how Tony’s eyes are removable. However, her demonstration of this is cut
short by Claire’s frightened protests and she resorts instead to
describing the level of detail that has gone into TN-3’s design: “He is
beautiful don’t you agree…”
At this point in the clip, a short piece
of narration (by John Stocksbridge) is overlaid on the play’s soundtrack
as follows: ‘In his recently dramatised novel Satisfaction Guaranteed,
Isaac Asimov reveals the standard of engineering he expects to see’.
This obscures Jensen’s line of dialogue, which ran as follows:
Dr Jensen: No human body is so perfectly
proportioned; no human skin is so unblemished. Magnificent…a miracle of
The episode’s soundtrack returns with
Jensen going on to explain how the “real miracle” exists inside Tony’s
skull – an artificial brain, nearly as complicated as a human’s, which
works like an “immense telephone switchboard” receiving and acting on
billions of possible connections.
Claire is completely dumbfounded by all
of this, saying weakly “it’s very interesting”. Larry asks her whether
she’s now agreeable to the proposition, to which she can only respond
with: “I don’t know – couldn’t we talk about it in another room?" The
others laugh at her naiveté.
NB. For the clip’s inclusion in the BFI
DVD release, the original documentary narration that obscures Jensen’s
line of dialogue was replaced by interview reflections from the
episode’s director John Gorrie.
Surviving audio extract
The existing audio material consists of a
section (lasting just over two minutes) from scenes 12 and 13.
This begins at the point where Claire
walks into her kitchen at night, and discovers Tony ‘reading’ a magazine
in the dark, courtesy of its ‘ultra-violet’ vision. Claire is confused
at the manner in which Tony seems to be hurriedly flicking over the
pages of the magazine, and accuses it of not being able to read. Tony
politely corrects her by saying that it is scanning the pages and that
it’s memory is photographic. When Claire queries why the robot is
looking at “women’s magazines”, Tony states that one of it’s duties is
to assimilate all available information, of whatever nature, and that
this helps to increase it’s usefulness.
Changing the subject, Claire mentions that she thought she had heard a
kettle boiling. Tony offers her tea, and when Claire refuses, the robot
begins suggesting a range of alternatives despite Claire’s insistence
that she does not want anything. She accuses Tony of “impertinence” and
storms out of the kitchen.
There is a short break in the clip at
this point, within which Claire notices that Tony has followed her into
the living room. This loses two pieces of dialogue, comprising Claire’s
request that Tony returns to the kitchen and the robot’s monotone
refusal: “No, Mrs. Belmont”.
The extract then picks up the action at
Claire’s startled reaction to the robot’s refusal to obey a human order.
Running around the living-room table in order to put something between
herself and the robot, she demands that it stays away from her. Tony
attempts to assuage her fears by acknowledging that it is obliged to
obey. However, the robot continues, there is also the question of
priority. It reasons that if it were to return to the kitchen, then Mrs.
Belmont would continue to remain frightened of its presence in the
When Claire blusters: “Frightened? Who
says I’m frightened?”, Tony replies that her voice and manner betray her
A second break in the clip at this point,
losing Tony’s statement that Claire’s fear is based on the fact that it
so closely resembles a human being and she cannot accept Tony as a
machine – therefore she looks on the robot as a stranger in her house.
The extract resumes again with Claire’s
reply: “So you are!”. Tony states that it is a mere appliance like her
vacuum cleaner and washing machine, and that until she realises this,
the experiment is a failure. It states that Claire must believe that its
actions are merely for her own good.
A third short break here, losing Claire’s
nervous statement that although the quality of Tony’s voice has now
changed, the robot’s facial expression has remained unaltered.
The extract resumes as Tony explains how facial expression is dictated
by mood and instinct, both of which it is incapable of experiencing.
Having said this, Tony then offers to ‘smile’ if it makes Claire feel
more relaxed. However, the ensuing ‘smile’ is unnerving since only the
curvature of the mouth is altered. Claire shudders and says: “Never