Created by Chris Boucher, former Blake’s 7 and Bergerac script editor, Star Cops was effectively a police procedural in space and one of the rare occasions where the BBC attempted to do some serious sci-fi; no bug-eyed monsters here, just duplicitous, criminal human beings.
What was it about?
Laid back Nathan Spring is a traditionalist in a world of computer crime solvers. Politically manoeuvred into leading the fledgling International Space Police Force, know unflatteringly as the ‘Star Cops’, he brings his detective skills to the ‘high frontier’ tackling corruption, theft and murder on both space stations and the Moon.
With smart scripts and an intelligent fusion of the two genres, Star Cops projected the Cold War politics of the 1980s onto 2027 with tight plots that keep you guessing. With the lean on hard science, the only fantastical element of the show was Spring’s prototype personal computer Box, which had a touch of Orac about it.
A special mention has to be made of the love it or loathe it theme song, ‘It Won’t Be Easy’, written and performed by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues.
Who was in it?
The lead is David Calder, who as Nathan Spring delivers an excellent performance throughout. He’s joined by Trevor Cooper as Colin Devis, another familiar cult TV face.
The international element is represented Erick Ray Evans as American David Theroux and Linda Newton as feisty Aussie Pal Kenzy, with Sayo Ianaba’s Japanese Doctor Anna Shoun and Jonathan Adams Russian Moonbase Russian Commander Krivenko rounding out the cast.
The strongest episodes were those by Boucher (writer of Doctor Who‘s The Face of Evil, The Robots of Death and Image of the Fendahl), whose initial run of four set the show up and formed a loose arc, though the others aren’t by any means bad. Trivial Games and Paranoid Pursuits was a high point, involving a missing scientist from the American space station Ronald Regan and Spring’s battle of wits with its commander.
Transmitted on BBC Two in the summer of 1987, the series comprised a mere nine episodes. Beset with behind the scenes problems and with a tenth episode lost to strike action, the programme failed to ever find its audience. It wasn’t helped by a deathly Monday evening slot and some less than impressive weightless effects. Nine weeks after it began, it was all over.
Don’t hold your breath. Though poorly received by the critics, there are dedicated fans and it remains well regarded by those in the know. Boucher did novelise his episodes over two volumes in the nineties, which made some changes and revisions to the stories, putting them right in his eyes.
Star Cops was released on DVD in 2004 and is well worth seeking out for an entertaining slice of the eighties.
What are your memories of Star Cops? Let us know below…