No doubt, March 20, 2009 will be a date forever ingrained in Jamie Bamber's mind. It was the day that the final ever episode of Battlestar Galactica first aired. For the British-born Bamber, playing Captain Lee 'Apollo' Adama in Ronald D. Moore's stunning re-imagining of the famous 1970s sci-fi show has been like a dream come true. Since graduating from the London Academy of Music and Drama, Bamber has more than served his time in a series of television shows that might be regarded as a rites of passage for any British actor. Making appearances in Hornblower and Agatha Christie drama The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, he looked destined for a career in starchy period pieces - until he auditioned for the role of Apollo in Moore's 2003 three-hour mini-series that ultimately acted as a pilot for the subsequent four seasons. Following a group of humans aboard the eponymous spacecraft after escaping destruction at the hands of a cybernetic race known as the Cylons, Battlestar Galactica has become increasingly regarded as one of the most compelling shows of the last few years. As for the 36 year-old Bamber, whose real-life wife Kerry Norton has made several appearances in the show as paramedic Layne Ishay, his performance as the estranged son to Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) remains one of the chief reasons to keep watching. Below he explains how he feels as one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made has drawn to a close.
Q: It must be very strange. The show is now finished but it's picking up more and more fans all the time?
A: Strange, yeah, but that's what we always wanted. We were always on slightly parochial networks and stuff. For example, I've just fallen in love with The Wire, and watched the first season, five years after it aired on HBO. And there's an awareness that TV's changing, and then if you make something good and unique - and we believe are show to be that - people can discover it in fifty years time. I know this is the last DVD launch, because now they're all out there, so this was always going to be a big occasion. It's an opportunity to spread the good news, as it were, of this show.
Q: Have you seen it getting more and more popular as time has gone on?
A: Oh, definitely. But that is the nature of television. It always works in that way. When the first episode of any show goes out, it takes a long time for it to seep into the public awareness because it hasn't been rubber-stamped as a success or a hit - and that takes time. With our show, we're an idiosyncratic show anyway - it's got a goofy title that a lot of people will be turned off by. The fact that it's on Sci-Fi channel, and its always on a slightly ancillary network... it takes a long time for those things to hit the mainstream and to be regarded universally and for people to fall in love with it. I'm aware so much more now that the show's off the air that it's an important show than I was when it was on the air.
Q: Is it also that the show's original 1978 source was a bit hokey and people remember that?
A: I think that lessens daily. Certainly when we started, that was the big elephant in the room - this original show. So there was a bunch of the hardcore fans out there going, 'How dare we re-imagine perfection?' And with the rest of the world, it was 'Why would you?' But the one thing it did give you was a bit of anticipation value. For those people that say 'How dare you?', they want to shoot you down. They want to see it so they can ridicule it. And the people who say 'Why would you?' they're much harder to win over, because they're antipathetic. But at least there's an angle for the press, for example, to come at - which all remakes have in their favour for a while, if you do a good job. But the thing about it now is that we're not really fighting that anymore. We've made 78 hours of television, and I think they made 20.
We've told this story in a much more resolved and fuller way than the original ever did. So in a way, the conversation has moved on and people are more aware of our show than they ever were of the original.
Q: Was there a feeling of sadness for you when you got to the final season?
A: I always liken it to running a marathon. It's the satisfaction that comes with crossing a finish line. Our show was never going to be like an ER that could just go on and on forever. It really lives and dies by the conclusion at the end of this huge odyssey, and if it doesn't end, then the journey has no meaning. So we needed the ending to really validate the mythology of the show. When we got there, it was a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. But that inevitably becomes nostalgia very quickly and you realise you may never capture that kind of reward and work environment or excitement again. It's going to be very hard to ever experience anything quite like this show. I think it's almost unique.
But that really is all down to the fact that it is perfect and it is finished, and it has a unity and a structure that makes it better than if it otherwise be if it was still going.