Here’s an animated interview from 1963 with “The Twilight Zone” host/creator and series writer Rod Serling

By on May 25, 2016

In 1963, Melbourne, Australia radio personality Binny Lum interviewed Rod Serling, the screenwriter, playwright, television producer and creator of TV’s popular series “The Twilight Zone,” which ran on CBS from 1959-1964. Check out this new Blank on Blank/PBS Digital Studios flash-animated cartoon using the actual audio from that interview, in which Mr. Serling and Ms Lum take us on a journey that reveals “you simply cannot go home again.”

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The Emmy-award winning Serling wrote most of the teleplays and scripts for “The Twilight Zone” during its run, although he did have occasional help from sci-fi authors like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and George Clayton Johnson for story springboards or, occasionally, full scripts.

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Here’s a partial transcript from the interview:

Binny Lum: Well, it’s a very beautiful day, and it’s made infinitely more pleasant for me by the fact that I am going to talk to Rod Serling. So many of you have enjoyed his television show, “The Twilight Zone,” I think is the one that everybody talks about. I’ve just confessed to Rod that I haven’t seen it.

Rod Serling: Believe me, Binny, some of my best friends are quite unaware of this program back in the States, including relatives, I might add.

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We’ve been given the story you and your wife travel on different planes.

Serling: Yes, indeed. It’s that we don’t have any close relatives who would be able to look after two rather small girls. I suppose statistically this is nonsensical to travel on separate planes. I rather think it’s far more dangerous to climb into a taxi, really, anywhere on earth.

We’re on our way to Japan shortly here, and we’re told that the Japanese cabs are called ‘kamikazes’ and that you literally take your life in your hand when you drive in these things. I was in the paratroops during the war and I have since talked to old colleagues of the ‘chutes,’ we call it, who have traveled in Japan. They tell me it’s far easier to get up in a jump stick on a C-47 aircraft, leap out into enemy territory than it is to climb into the rear seat of a Japanese taxicab. I think probably they’re going to start giving medals and ribbons for service in back seats in Japanese cabs.

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Rod, for the benefit of people who haven’t seen this, I think just a very brief description of what the series is about would be a good idea.

Serling: Well, “The Twilight Zone” is in essence an imaginative itinerary of storytelling in which we utilize bases of fantasy, science fiction, the occult, extrasensory perception, anything that is imaginative, wild, or, as in the States we call it, ‘kooky.’

In normal earthbound drama, if a man is on top of a building and it’s burning, of necessity he has to crawl down either a ladder, or go through a skylight, or is rescued by a helicopter. In “The Twilight Zone,” he grows wings and he flies off.

Ms Lum (seen below) was a popular figure in Melbourne and country Victoria for many years, working in radio from 1934 to 1984, initially as an actor, accompanist, scriptwriter and compere of fashion shows, before becoming known for co-hosting the 3KZ “The Children’s Session” (as “Cousin Binnie”) and other magazine-format programs.

She was also a pioneer of the small screen, host of the first daytime television program, “Thursday at One with Binnie Lum” on Channel Nine in 1957.

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The tape for this un-edited interview, not heard since its original broadcast, was made available through its donation by Ms Lum’s daughter Sharon Terry to Australia’s National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA).

Be sure to check out our other posts from PBS Digital Studios’s wonderful Blank on Blank series, including our previous animated shorts on Cher, Martin Scorsese, Nina Simone, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Bill Murray, Tom Waits, and Hunter S. Thompson.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.