In 1889 Austrian customs officer Alois is desperate that his wife Klara will pull through a difficult labour and that she and her baby son will survive. They do. They call the child Adolf.



(story), (dramatisation)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Himself - Introduced by
Zhivila Roche ...
Frau Lemner
Alastair Llewellyn ...
Toby Waldock ...
Young Alois


The year is 1889 in Austria-Hungary. Alois, a customs officer, leaves his post in order to be with his wife Klara during a difficult labour. She has already lost three children and is desperate that this one should survive. The doctor and midwife are hopeful and encourage Alois to be positive. The child survives and is named Adolphus. He grows up to be known as Adolph and his genesis leads to international catastrophe. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Horror | Thriller




Release Date:

17 May 1980 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In his introduction, Roald Dahl emphasized that this episode was not a work of fiction but was based on a true story, meticulously researched, using the real character names and real places. The significance of Dahl's statement becomes clear in the final seconds of the episode. See more »


Version of Genesis and Catastrophe (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

An odd Tales of the Unexpected episode.

Tales of the Unexpected: Genesis & Catastrophe is set during 1889 in Germany where Klara (Zhivila Roche) has lost 3 baby's in the past 18 months & has gone into labour with a fourth baby. Klara is worried that the baby will die like the other's but her doctor (Alastair Llewellyn) tries to reassure her, the moment of truth comes & the baby is due to be born but will it survive & will it be the happy event everyone hopes for?

This Tales of the Unexpected story was episode 12 from season 2 & originally aired here in the UK during May 1980, the fifth of nine Tales of the Unexpected episodes to be directed by Herbert Wise I'm not really sure what this is meant to mean but it has a certain something about it. The story by Roald Dahl was dramatised by Ronald Harwood & during his introduction Dahl states that this story is true except the dialogue, a statement which becomes clear & has relevance at the end of Genesis & Catastrophe. To be honest for 20 odd minutes of it's 25 minute duration this is extremely forgettable & frankly as dull as dishwater, the melodramatics are embarrassing, the character's are as one dimensional as you can get & there's not much subtlety or story here. However there is a shock surprise ending, I wouldn't call it a twist as such but it's sort of cool all the same. Having said that every person who has ever lived has been born at some point obviously so I'm not really sure what the point of this episode is, if they bring Tales of the Unexpected back today do you think they would write an episode about someone like Britney Spears birth? Just a thought...

This looks OK & since it's a period piece it hasn't dated too badly although I'm not sure about that suspiciously fake looking handlebar moustache. I have to mention the acting here which is quite simply awful, the accents are terrible & at first I thought they were supposed to be French! These accents really are embarrassing to listen to, they're even campier than those heard in Allo 'Allo! (1982 - 1992).

Genesis & Catastrophe is an odd episode, it doesn't really seem to have much point even though the ending does sort of save it, worth a watch if there's nothing else on for curiosity value alone if nothing else.

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