It goes without saying that Star Cops isn't the most popular science fiction series in the world. Running for only nine episodes and not managing to be recommissioned, it failed to attract very much attention at all in the media, not even the fan press. This page is here to take a look at the articles that have been written about the series, and maybe bring up some interesting behind-the-scenes facts as a result. Obviously this is by no means a definitive account of Star Cops in print - if you know of any more articles then please E-Mail Me and let me know. Meanwhile, the articles featured are as follows:

Computer Shopper
TV Zone
The Radio Times
DWB/TV Zone (Interviews/Unmade Episode Details)
DVD Reviews

SFX has a strange relationship with a series that, due to its age, only gets rare references. On the plus side, they once held a poll amongst respected SF literate to nominate the greatest science fiction TV series of all time, and were forced to be nice when the show made number thirteen. Their April 1999 edition (Issue #50) included the write-up 'It wasn't perfect, but it's as close as TV will ever get to producing proper written SF.' Not only that, but when the magazine had its own website and they had "affiliate sites", they made StarCops.Com one of them.
However, it's also the butt of jibes, which to be honest I don't really mind that much in theory. Most recently, March 2004 (Issue #115) saw a review of spoof horror series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Steve O'Brien's review contained the line 'The reality of the "lost" series is more mondo than Star Cops with all the requisite bad dubbing, queasily strange zooms, shitty special effects and dialogue that only looks alright when written down.' Yet perhaps SFX's darkest day came during Issue #74, when the first episode, An Instinct For Murder, was included as part of the "Couch Potato" feature. Quite disparaging of the "worthy-but-deathly-dull" series, the hit-and-miss humour of the Couch Potato team perhaps wasn't at its highest peak for the write-up. They do the Lionel Richie joke, but largely the humour is "post-modern/new lad" political incorrectness, with remarks like "an English toff and a black Yank" and "these are the two gayest spacemen I've ever seen". Perhaps not Couch Potato's finest moment then, but it was nice to see the series get a couple of mentions. Besides, SFX gave me a free plug once (Issue #98, should you care) - if I be nice they might give me another one.

Probably the campest sci-fi pic ever!

Around the same time as Couch Potato I was informed that Computer Shopper were running an article on the show, in the December 2000 (#154) issue. I've never read the mag before, but I was pleased to find an article by Phil South discussing new hand-held computers and comparing such devices, as well as the Internet, to similar devices in Star Cops. While again it's perhaps not unusual for a science fiction show to feature in a computer monthly, a show as obscure as Star Cops was undoubtedly unexpected. Praising the show highly, Phil says, amongst other things, '... recently I had a yen to watch them all again and dug out my videos of the series and sat down and watched the whole series beginning to end over a period of a few days. You know what, it stood up pretty well. I was struck by how far we've come since then and how prophetic some of the technology was. Unlike so many sci-fi shows of the era, it hasn't dated at all, with the probable exception of the rather drippy theme song by Justin Hayward.' It's a nice article, and as its conclusion had a little 'Further Info' box with a link to this site it's doubly worthy of praise.

A final example of recent reference was in Issue #135 of TV Zone, where An Instinct For Murder made the issue's "Fantasy Flashback" feature. This was not the first time Star Cops had had that honour, with This Case To Be Opened In A Million Years/Little Green Men and Other Martians making Issues #58 and #18 respectively; and Gary Russell praising the video releases in issue #20. The first was, like the rest, a four-page article with a page-sized photo as one of those pages. An article with David credited as "Nigel Calder", anyone who claims that such a piece is a quick and cheap way to paste up a plot summary and credit list with huge lettering to take up as much space as possible is of course a cynic. I wonder if the series will ever be rediscovered - maybe even get a repeat screening on BBC2 or UK Gold? Unless that happens it looks increasingly unlikely that the programme will gain much coverage in the future, save for the touted DVD releases.

In fairness to The Radio Times, they did make a valiant attempt to plug the series when it first came out in '87. With a cover shot of David Calder and the title "High Moon" (Ho Ho!) a three-page article by Johnny Black included the images below as well as brief snatches of interviews with David Calder, Chris Boucher and Evgeny Gridneff. (They were interviewed separately ;)) David Calder revealed some background to the show, claiming: 'While we were shooting an episode about a murder, I read in the Times about a group of hot-shot New York lawyers who are already devising the laws that will apply to the first murder in space which, they predict, will happen in 40 years' time!' Talking about the character of Nathan, he said: 'He's a man with a past which he keeps to himself. He had a difficult relationship with his father. He likes jazz and classical music. A cultured man, he considers detection an intellectual as much as a physical exercise, speaking of which, it is a very physical role. I've been swimming half a mile a day just to keep in good shape.'

The article also stated: 'From the very beginning, three years ago, the show's creator Chris Boucher was anxious to "get away from the gee-whiz elements of space opera, and back to nuts and bolts with an intelligent detective series set in an alien environment. I certainly didn't want to boldly leap where lots of people have leapt before."'

Perhaps most amusingly, it featured quotes from the Producer, who was very enthusiastic about the standard of the show (See Chris' opinion on this under Interviews). Evgeny said: 'We sought out the best available advice from NASA and other space agencies to ensure that Star Cops is as real as it possibly can be. We didn't want to make Blake's Seven or Star Trek. Instead, we've created an exciting, unusual, futuristic environment, but it's as authentic as we can make it. So the drama comes not from the realms of the fantastic, but from the strength of the plot and the realism of the characters.' Johnny Black went on to write that: 'A seal of approval was set on the special effects when Pete Conrad, a real-life NASA space shuttle commander, dropped by the set during filming. "He had a couple of minor observations which were useful to us, but we were relieved to find that he seemed quite impressed with the look of the thing. What we didn't want, though, was a series crammed with special effects that would overshadow the characters. People are the main ingredient, and the technology should always be just the icing on the cake. Star Cops will surprise a lot of people who think they don't like science fiction. Anybody who likes a thrilling story, well told, will be able to sit down and get involved, because these characters are real.'

Sadly, it was not to be a success, but this was a commendable attempt to promote the show. For greater detail on The Radio Times' coverage of the show (including readers' letters) then The Mausoleum Club is essential.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the series did slightly better in the fan press. The articles by Time Screen and Thermal Lance were particularly interesting and are available to read on-line. DWB released some details on the unmade tenth episode, Death on the Moon by Philip Martin. Due to be directed by Graeme Harper, Death on the Moon was to be the ninth episode broadcast, it was the eighth story to be commissioned and it was to be recorded last. It was cancelled due to a strike by electricians, the strike having taken place just before Christmas and the effects still being felt when the episode was due to be recorded during February 1987. Other programmes were given priority in the studio and so the episode was scrapped. Graeme Harper said: 'There was this great story to be done - a masterpiece, a classic, though I suppose it was slightly outrageous. It was about a big conglomerate who had the contract to actually throw bits of moonsoil into space, project them out into space, to be picked up by travelling workshops 20,000 miles out above the Earth. These cubes of moonsoil were then going to be used to build a huge space station, a big ring. And this is one of the ideas NASA actually have got. They can't take the stuff off Earth so they'll take it from the Moon and use the low gravity and push these things out by catapult.' The ISPF get involved when the body of Han, an employee of the Chinex Company who are partners in the project, is found in one of the launcher tubes. Nathan assigns a Star Cop to each of the five suspects and finds their tendency to treat the whole affair like an Agatha Christie whodunnit frustrating. Pressurised by Krivenko into letting the suspects leave the Moon, Nathan arrests the most likely culprit, only for him to be poisoned in custody. Realising the whole thing is a scam, Nathan exposes the true culprit as they address a worldwide shareholders' meeting via a video link. This sounded like a surreal episode with the costume designer's admission that she based the costume of Eugene Huldrych, a Swiss financier, on Batman's nemesis Penguin!

The same fanzine, along with TV Zone, had some small interviews with Chris Boucher, Graeme Harper and Trevor Cooper at around the same time. Interesting points included:

Chris: 'Star Cops was originally a radio project. I had worked out a lot of detail for it, and then for various reasons it became a television project. When I was commissioned to write it for television, I was told I couldn't script edit Bergerac and work on it. Thinking of early retirement, I said thank you and went off and did Star Cops.'
(On the Producer Evgeny Gridneff): 'My impression frequently was that he was more concerned with making sure of his own authority than anything else. I had to telescope the first two episodes into one, not only that I went to his office at one stage and he said, "I think we should change this draft". It was less than tactful on his part and my reaction was less than tactful. I responded aggressively, saying something like: "This is as good as it gets". Our relationship started at rock bottom and worked its way down. We were just different.'
(On the other writers): 'I like them both personally, they're nice guys. I remember sitting down and having a drink with Philip Martin and hearing the horror story of what they had done to his script, and having a lot of sympathy for him. I remember he was pretty steamed at the time and I was pretty steamed about the whole thing anyway, so we had a good session.' (On Nathan Spring): 'He wasn't based on me physically because he was supposed to be good looking! Originally, as I wrote him, he was a hunk. As originally written, Nathan was a sort of whizzkid. In terms of the police, he had risen to his grade early, and reached it on the basis of being smart, and in a way, more charming. In realistic terms the people who get on are the good looking ones. It's a sad fact, but it's a fact; it's one of the subliminal things that we respond to. We respond to handsome people, both men and women, and we respond to tall people by vesting them with a certain authority because they're taller. For Nathan to reach the level he did at his age, he had to be tall and he had to handsome.'
(On Devis and Nathan's relationship): 'The producer was casting against the script. The relationship between Nathan and Colin Devis, the heavy who ultimately becomes his assistant; originally I had written it Nathan younger and Colin older. When it was cast it was Nathan older and Colin younger, and although it vaguely irritated me I liked both actors, but it was entirely the wrong way round.' (On Anna Shoun): 'I resented the introduction of a character I didn't create, the Japanese girl. She's a wonderful actress and she worked very hard, but I hated the character and I hated the concept. I don't think the show did it very well, and I don't think it was set up to do it. Japan is a totally alien society, a very interesting one, but one which I find myself very hostile to because of their chopping down the tropical forests. Where they and Western societies meet, there are some interesting confusions and misunderstandings and assumptions which are not correct.'
(On the second series): 'Evgeny did say to me at one stage, "Why don't you work out the second series?" But it didn't seem to me that there was much prospect of a second season, and basically being lazy I didn't feel like working out a whole new concept just to have it sit on the shelf.'

Graeme: 'It was given a lousy time. Eight thirty on a Monday night in the middle of summer is not going to attract a big audience. It was a winter night show, it should have been on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday when it would have been wonderful. In my opinion British television has in recent times had no idea what to do with genre TV. Now it is all shown as "Yoof", because there is no confidence in this weird type of programming.'
(On the production of the series): 'I sat down with Christopher Baker and the producer and we bashed around and threw out ideas out ourselves. I was very strong that the Devis part was written for Trevor Cooper and I fought very hard for him. Trevor and I were working on something else and I offered him the script and although there were several characters in it there was Trevor described exactly. Chris [Boucher] suggested another actor who was much older and thinner and the problem was if Nathan and Devis were the same age there were certain scenes that just wouldn't work so they had to be rewritten. With a younger, up and coming, bolshy but honest guy there was something that Nathan could see in this guy and he could relate to. It wouldn't have worked with an older Devis. On paper I thought it read not bland but a bit stereotyped and didn't really go anywhere, so I needed an actor who could see that Devis was the one person who was destined to be a space policeman, that it was the best thing that he could do, to go into space and live in weightlessness, who could see that and direct the character and make him go somewhere.'

Trevor: 'I think there was a very good reason for Devis being left on Moonbase. He wasn't a diplomat in any way, so you couldn't really send him to another base to sort things out. The one time he was sent to do something on his own, to Japan, he got stuck in the clink after five minutes.'
(On the series): 'It was rooted in reality. I didn't mind that aspect really and I thought there were enough inventive ideas to keep it going and keep it quite fresh.'

(On Nathan and Kenzy's relationship): 'There were rumours before we did the last episode that the relationship was going to go even further than it actually was, and I'm sort of glad it wasn't at that stage. It was sort of left hanging in the air, it was a great relationship between those two.'

The release of the DVD set caused a renewed profile for Star Cops in the genre press. Initially it was a profile of embarrassment, as - like Blake's 7 - it had full-page advertisements for its DVD releases, only for the release to be delayed several times. When the discs were finally issued, they attracted surprisingly favourable reviews, with Starburst #183 the most conservative, giving three out of five stars. TV Zone #318 saw Antony Brown give an exceptionally positive review, and a 10/10 rating, as well as a brief mention in an article on SF future predictions. SFX, traditionally quite scornful of the series, had Nick Setchfield giving the series four stars and the extras three in SFX #125. Dreamwatch #125's belated review also gave a promising 6/10 to the discs. Unfortunately the set didn't fare as well outside of genre magazines, where DVD Monthly #59 was seen to give the extras 7/10 and remark on how they would appeal to fans... then ask if the series had any. While the extras were praised, the show itself was panned with a 3/10 rating. Total DVD #69 also questioned the existence of fans of the show, but did award the DVD as a whole a slightly more generous three stars out of five.

Articles copyright SFX, Computer Shopper, Radio Times, DWB and TV Zone. This feature is not an attempt to breach copyright, extracts taken for information purposes only.

Many grateful thanks to Kevin Burns for extra research into articles and interviews for this feature.
Additional thanks to Andy Smith for help with some research.