The Aphrodite Inheritance

Production and Filming
From BBC production notes it appears that studio recording took place in two blocks, with location filming sandwiched in between. The flooding of the tomb in the final episode was shot at Ealing Film Studios.

Terence Williams' episodes were recorded during August and September 1978. The cast and crew then flew to Cyprus for location filming from September to November. Studio work resumed in December under the direction of Viktors Ritelis and continued into January 1979. In fact the last two episodes were recorded after the series had begun transmission.

Production Dates

7 - 21 August 1978 - A Death in The Family [Production 2248/2461]
7 - 22 August 1978 - A Lamb to the Salughter [Production 2248/2462]
23 August - 4 September 1978 - Here We Come A Gathering [Production 2248/2463]
23 August - 5 September 1978 - A Friend in Need [Production 2248/2464]

16 September - 19 November 1978 - Location Filming

16 December 1978 - Come Into My Parlour… [Production 2248/2465]
17 December 1978 - … Said The Spider To The Fly [Production 2248/2466]
4 January 1979 - The Eyes of Love [Production 2248/2467]
5 January 1979 - To Touch The Rainbow [Production 2248/2468]
With thanks to Peter Chapman

Start Over

Young Evdokios Panteli

Do you recall the film sequence at the airport in episode one?

Ever wondered who the little boy was?

Well he's all grown up now and when he contacted me I was delighted to help Evdokios Panteli to obtain a copy of the series.

Party sequence in episode 6

Website visitor Brian Coughlin was interested in the dance troupe at Hellman's party at the Asteria Beach Hotel in episode 6.
Brian emailed me in September 2017 to tell me that his sister had visited the hotel and a member of staff asked the manager to look back in their records to 1978 and he came up with the time-shooting schedule for that night's filming. The resident dance troupe was Armenian and were called "Tamzara". The European girl that danced with them is an Austrian named Alina Christel Vinke, who later became a teacher. Married and now retired she still lives in Limassol. The dancer who balanced the glasses on his head was Narek Nahigian.


Actors tend to be superstitious by nature, but even allowing for that by all accounts the filming of The Aphrodite Inheritance seems to have been plagued by mysterious happenings. Stefan Gryff recalls a number of inexplicable occurrences, which he says were reported quite widely at the time. A contemporary interview (see the Feature Articles page elsewhere on the site) quoted Gryff saying:

"... when I was at school I thought all that fuss about Greek gods and goddesses was nonsense. Absolute rubbish. But I've changed my mind now. There's absolutely no doubt about it, they really exist. There can't be any other explanation."

"I was driving with Brian Blessed along a road by the sea. We passed the spot where, according to legend, Aphrodite arose. Brian started talking about it but I cut him short by saying I didn't believe in that sort of nonsense. I hadn't finished speaking when the front tyre of our car burst with a deafening bang. Completely cut to shreds. When we stopped one of the car's doors opened all by itself. It sounds quite harmless, but at the time it was a hair raising experience."

"After we'd had the car repaired and had a glass of wine we returned passing the same spot. Brian kept on teasing me about what had happened. 'I suppose you believe in the Greek gods now ?' he asked somewhat mockingly. To hide my discomfort I said 'Ah,gods!' And then it all happened at once. The doors flew open as if they'd been thrown open by force, the engine stalled and the whole car began to shake frighteningly. It was horrifying. I would have given anything to be some place else at that moment. Even Brian, who doesn't frighten easily, had turned quite pale. But before we could get away we had to go through one more ordeal. Despite the heat outside on the coastal road, inside the car it suddenly became freezing cold as if we'd been touched by an icy hand. Then everything returned to normal as if nothing had happened. We started the car and drove away as fast as we could and felt very relieved when we rejoined the rest of the group."

Alexandra Bastedo, interviewed in 1994, (see the Feature Articles page elsewhere on the site) told of another uncanny incident. "We were filming at Aphrodite's birthplace at Pathos, where there are a lot of ruins. The props department had created fibre-glass statues of Bacchus, Pan and Aphrodite, but with the actors' faces on them. Tourists were walking around and they thought the statues were real and were taking photos. Suddenly this tremendous wind got up and the statues started bouncing around. The terrified tourists ran."

Director Viktors Ritelis also recalls the incident. "Bad luck had followed the shoot all the way through," he says. "Things miraculously disappeared, only to reappear in another place. We were playing with fire, tempting fate, the locals warned us. No good would come of putting up statues of our gods on the Roman ruins we had found. And they were right. Over night a high wind swept the island, plucked the statues from their mounts and dashed them against the rocks. Nothing but shards remained."

"The scene had to be postponed while a new order was dispatched to the statue makers. When the new lot arrived and the scene was scheduled for the following day, bad weather followed. At night doors banged mysteriously, room lights flickered, everyone was on edge. Perhaps Brian Blessed was the prankster, perhaps he was genuinely as uneasy as the rest of us. We started to believe that we were angering the gods and the last scene that explains everything would never get done."

Director of Photography Peter Chapman says: "The final episode contains scenes shot in the tank at Ealing Film Studios, which represents Aphrodite's secret cave. The cave gets flooded, the flood being caused by a landslide which we filmed on location in Cyprus. To simulate the landslide several lorries full of huge boulders and rubble were tipped from just out of view to send their contents hurtling down the slopes towards cameras set well away at the foot of the slopes. One camera was sited halfway up the hillside. It was mounted in a steel box to protect it from the falling rocks and once the shot was finished and the safety officer gave the all clear Roy Caney, the Grip, went up the hill to reclaim the camera.

The cage had done its job but the battery, on a lead apart, had taken a direct hit. It had originally been a metal box 9" x 3" x 4" with the battery cells contained within. It finished up like a slim 1" plate. Roy had a great sense of humour and he sent it off to the BBC workshops at Ealing with the message ... "The battery is flat!"

Chapman also says: "to facilitate the flooding of the cave, which was built in the large tank on stage two, special effects had a rubber pond filled with water from which they would eventually pump the flood into the set. On the same stage we also had a set of an interior of Cyprus Airway aircraft for a scene. Halfway through the shooting in the `aircraft` the crew found their feet getting soaked as water flooded from a burst in the rubber fabric of the pond!"

Viktors Ritelis also recalls problems when they came to film the flooding of the tomb. "As the level of water in the tank rose, all the make-believe heavy golden statues started floating. They had to be sandbagged and anchored. We had difficulty lighting the set because the volume of water across frame cut down the light. To have decreased the volume would have been at the expense of credibility. Also I would have liked waterproof housing for cameras instead of the plastic wrappers we were allocated. But there you are. You do the best you can with what you've got."

"As the filming progressed the water got colder and colder. The cast were wet and uncomfortable for most of the day but I can't remember anyone complaining. Either I've done a good job at editing memories or people were genuinely enthusiastic to be doing something a bit unusual."

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