Colonel Alan Virdon is the commander of the ANSA space mission that strands two astronauts together ( a third did not survive) on Earth over 1000 years into the future. Virdon, the consumate family man, is driven by the need to return home to his wife and son. His sense of responsibility extends to his second-in-command, Peter Burke, and their new-found simian friend, Galen. Virdon is a born and bred farmboy, a compassionate man, a problem-solver and the voice of reason within the trio.
Ron Harper, who played Virdon, says that working "with Roddy was a delight" and tells of an incident "I still smile about. Jim and I were trying to rescue Roddy (it was his turn to be captured by the apes) and we had just broken into the guard house and overpowered the two guards there. Jim had a simple warning line to the guards, ‘No noise’, which he shouted at the top of his lungs, causing me to collapse with laughter and telling him ‘Well, that might blow our cover’."
He goes on to relate that his favorite acting episode was "The Legacy", and his favorite action episode was "The Horse Race", most especially "because for once I didn't have to run all over the rocky ground on foot!!!!!"
The other astronaut to survive the crash landing is Major Peter J. Burke. Endowed with a dry wit and a practical, frequently pessimistic nature, the self-proclaimed "ladies man" is impulsive and sarcastic, yet courageous in the face of danger. Burke's hot-headed temperment frequently lands him into trouble but is balanced by a sense of humor and an innate kindness buried beneath the bravado. He follows Virdon on his quest out of fierce loyalty and a strong sense of duty.
James Naughton said of the show, "We all kind of became "The Fugitive," you know. Each week we were caught and then we escaped… we were constantly whacking some guy over the head with a stick, or drop-kicking a guy in a monkey suit. We had apes falling out of the trees all over the place." *
The nonhuman contingent of the trio is the chimpanzee Galen, son of a prominent council member in Central City. Galen's sense of justice forced him to join the two astronauts in flight after preventing their murder. Now an outlaw to his own people, he roams the countryside with his human friends, aiding their quest to discover a way back home. Galen's flair for play-acting and numerous contacts in the ape world help the group to survive against all odds, while their adventures provide the chimpanzee's insatiable curiosity with an never-ending supply of new discoveries and experiences.
Although Galen is frequently exasperated by Burke and Virdon's behavior, the deep friendship shared by the three gives them hope that some day humans and apes may live together in peace. Roddy McDowall's believable compassion and innocent playfulness shine through the make-up to reveal the character of Galen as radical who can no longer abide the lies perpetrated by ape society.
Roddy said, "But my favorite character of the whole group to play was Galen in the television series, because he had nothing to do at all with the other characters (Cornelius and Caesar) and he was so larky – full of the devil and full of invention. That was a great character to play and I loved the series... that series was extremely good and on it's way in development to being terrific.... I loved it because I got to play a lot of different characters.... I said I would love to do a theme that was a thinly disguised 'Scarlet Pimpernel' chimp and we did it... one time, I remember, I was a chimp lady (laughs), and those were wonderful fun to do and full of larkiness."*
*Quoted from "Behind the Planet of the Apes"
THANKS TO RON HARPER FOR THE QUOTE! Many thanks to Greg P., Rob Reading, Gryph, Uschi, Dave, Jules, Theresa, Pat and Elaine for their writing skills, their photographs, time, effort and support re: this site. Also, thanks to Mark and Ryan from "The Zone" & to the POTA groups at Yahoo for info and photographs; to Michael Whitty, Mike Cougar, James, & Jeff 'Goob'. Finally, the artists who allowed me to post their work on this site: Chris Hight, Neil Foster, Jay, Glen Scheetz and others. This site is dedicated to the Friends and Fugitives Group, Mez, and to that most special of persons, Jane Just Jane.
WELCOME! There's some great fan fiction here, screen grabs galore, an episode guide, and of course, the collectibles (including the UK annuals with a page of their own). Let's start with some character summaries and quotes from the actors: