…Artemis.. 8.. 1…. (1981)

UK, 29 December
16mm film, colour, 4:3
mono, English

A British fantasy television film directed by Alastair Reid and written by David Rudkin.

Plot Summary

On their homeworld, the alien angel Helith and his evil brother Asrael wage war over the future of humanity. On Earth, a pagan relic is stolen and the passengers on a North Sea car ferry on which it is being transported all later commit suicide; musician Von Drachenfels is haunted by the idea that he is cursed to bring about the ; and horror novelist Gideon Harlax finds himself drawn into the increasingly complex plot.


Directed by (opening titles) Director (closing titles): Alastair Reid
Produced by (opening titles) Producer (closing titles): David Rose
Associate Producer: Dawn Robertson
Written by: David Rudkin
Photography: David Jackson
Film Editor: Mike Hall
Original Music Track: Dave Greenslade
Film Recordist: Dennis Cartwright
Costume Designer: Al Barnett
Make-up Artist: Carol Ganniclifft
Visual Effects Designer: Tony Harding
Designer: Gavin Davies
Filmed on location in England, Wales and Denmark

Hywel Bennett (Gideon Harlax)
Dinah Stabb (Gwen Meredith)
Dan O'Herlihy (Von Drachenfels)
Sting (Helith)
Anthony Steel (Anthony Guise)
Roland Curram (Asrael)
Margaret Whiting (Laura Guise)
Ian Redford (Jed Thaxter)
Mary Ellen Ray (Sonia)
Cornelius Garrett (pastor)
Siv Borg (wife)
Frode Berg (child)
Ingrid Pitt (Hitchcock blonde)
Daniel Day Lewis (library student)
Sylvia Coleridge (library scholar)
Sevilla Delofski (Magog)
Patricia Gallimore (nurse)
Eleanor Forsythe (mother)
Phil Parry (subaltern)
Michael Tracy (whitecoat)

Alternative Titles

Artemis 81 – advertising title


Phil McNeill, writing in the British music paper New Musical Express, confessed that “I was fascinated by the epic ambition and (everything but the) kitchen sink dramas of Artemis 81” though conceded that “Rudkin just tries to squeeze too much in. […] [O]ne thing Artemis 81 certainly didn't lack was a plot: the only problem – deliberately set – was to unravel it. By comparison, Close Encounters of the Third Kind […] and 2001: A Space Odyssey […] were like ABC.” 1New Musical Express 9 January 1982 p.6.



  • Broadcast 16 March 1981 p.12 – production notes (Rushes by Belkis Bhegani)
  • Broadcast 15 February 1982 p.18 – illustrated review (Off air by W. Stephen Gilbert)
  • New Musical Express 9 January 1982 p.6 – review (Dangerous visions) by Phil McNeill
  • Radio Times 19 December 1981-1 January 1982 p.80 – illustrated listing
  • Radio Times vol.234 no.3036 (16 January 1982) p.71 – letters (The art of Artemis 81 by Peter Smith; What Did It Mean? by Edwina Parry, Barbara Pedersen, Rita Quinn)
  • Screen International 21 February 1981 p.14 – credits
  • Television Today 17 July 1980 p.18 – production note


  • The Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction (4th Edition) p.800 – credits, review
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.369
  • Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film and Television Credits Volume 2 p.1195 – credits