Our vintage Starlog coverage continues under the masterful hand of the late Bill Warren, key correspondent for seaQuest’s run. Having already interviewed most of the principals, it was now the turn of an actress that was destined to become no less than a National Treasure in her native UK.
Although her fellow cast members would infamously brand her character ‘Doctor Crestfallen’ Stephanie Beacham’s Dr Kristin Westphalen would nonetheless become a key player and a firm fan favourite for the first season.
Already familiar to US audiences thanks to her turn in Dynasty and The Colby’s she had been enchanting British audiences for years having first appeared in two Hammer Horror films in the early seventies. Indeed, Beacham’s longevity could be attributed to her ability to transition and re-invent herself through the decades, having left the decadent ’80’s behind to become a positive role model in the ’90’s.
Bill Warren’s gift for casual revelations uncovers that the Westphalen role was originally written as a male, with only Beacham’s connections and persistence winning the Amblin execs over to cast the former glamourpuss in the show. And despite the negativity surrounding series lead Roy Scheider and conflicts with Producers, Beacham confirms the series lead made the effort to personally read with her for Network approval.
While Beacham speaks highly of all her fellow cast members and aspirations for the show, it was the budding romance between her character and the Captain that most captivated the audience imagination (quickly becoming the subject of reams of fan-fiction). While this did eventually came to fruition in the season finale, it would sadly also be Beacham’s final turn as the character having refused to re-locate to Florida for season two.
To this day, many fans cite the absence of the Westphalen character as one of the defining elements of the decline in quality of the show it would never truly recover from. As the internet campaign to ‘Rescue seaQuest’ gained momentum, a return to ‘Science Faction’ may have been the key motivator, but it was the chemistry between Bridger and Westphalen fans missed most…