British Bobbies in Space – “Star Cops”

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British television has managed to create several cult classics within fandoms, and even some science fiction shows that have appealed to a wider audience (anyone heard of a show called Doctor Who?). There have, however, also been many great sci-fi and fantasy shows created by the BBC, and its British rivals ITV and Channel 4, that have long since fallen into obscurity, or maybe never actually made it out of obscurity in the first place. Today we look back to the summer of 1987 at a space detective show that ran for just nine episodes, the much underrated Star Cops.

StarCopsCast

The show was devised by Chris Boucher, a writer who had previously worked on the science fiction television series Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 as well as crime dramas such as Juliet Bravo and Bergerac. Set in the year 2027, a time where Interplanetary travel has become commonplace, it starred David Calder as Nathan Spring, commander of the International Space Police Force—nicknamed the “Star Cops”—who provide law enforcement for the newly developing colonies of the Solar System.

Nathan Spring Star Cops

David Calder as Nathan Spring

The series follows Nathan Spring and the rest of his multinational team as they work to establish the Star Cops and solve whatever crimes come their way. Operating in a relatively accurately realized hard SF, near-future, space environment, many of the cases that the Star Cops investigate arise from opportunities for new crimes presented by the technologically advanced future society the series depicts and from the hostile frontier nature of the environment that the Star Cops live in.

In total nine episodes of Star Cops were made. A tenth episode, titled “Death on the Moon”, was planned but industrial relations difficulties during production led to it being abandoned shortly before recording was to commence. A combination of factors, including conflict between Boucher and producer Evgeny Gridneff and poor scheduling, meant that the series never found a satisfactory audience and the series was cancelled after one season. In recent years, Star Cops has undergone something of a critical re-appraisal and is generally hailed for being “a pretty good attempt at a moderately realistic “High Frontier” SF series.”


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