- Space Patrol (1962 TV series)
"Space Patrol" is a science fiction television series featuring
marionettesthat was produced in the United Kingdomin 1962. It was written and produced by Roberta Leighin association with the Associated British Corporation
The show featured the vocal talents of
Dick Vosburgh, Ronnie Stevens, Libby Morris, Murray Kash and Ysanne Churchman, and comprised 39 half-hour episodes. This series is also known by its U.S. title "Planet Patrol" to avoid confusion with a U.S. series of the same name.
It concerned an interplanetary police force in the year 2100, and focused on the crew of Galasphere 347 under the command of heroic Captain Larry Dart. The crew includes elfin Slim from
Venus, sausage-mad Husky, from Marsand the Martian parrot Gabbler (a Gabblerdictum). Providing technical support was Irish genius Professor Heggarty. Keeping them all on a tight rein are Colonel Raeburn and his super-efficient Venusian secretary Marla.
Leigh had previously worked with
Gerry Andersonon children's puppet series, and there are some obvious similarities between "Space Patrol" and Anderson's " Fireball XL5", although "Space Patrol" was made on a lower budget. For many years it was believed that all but a handful of episodes had been destroyed, until a complete cache of 16mm prints was discovered in the loft at Roberta Leigh's house. Despite their scratched and grainy condition, they were of sufficient historic interest to warrant a DVD release. Selected episodes were issued on DVD in 2001, and the complete series was released in 2003on Region 0 discs.
Original style of the series
Although compared (and often confused) with the
Gerry Andersonproductions, "Space Patrol" stands out on its own. This is mainly due to the boldness of a few creative choices. The only music involved is extremely avant-garde. Final credits always showed panoramic views of a gigantic city of the future, and never featured any music; only the throb of some industrial machinery, sounding like a gigantic pump or a steam engine, beat in rhythm. The male characters from planet Venus (Slim for example) presented obvious androgyne features (in contrast to the rustic, virile Martians). Thus the style of the entire series created an extremely eerie atmosphere, that remains rarely matched even by the best adult science-fiction on screen.
Swamps of Jupiter- Captain Dart and his crew are sent to investigate the loss of contact with a scientific base on Jupiter and encounter Martian fur trappers who are killing the local Loomicreatures for their heat-retaining skins.
* The Wandering
Asteroid- The Space Patrol crew accept a dangerous mission to destroy an asteroid deflected from its orbit by a cometary collision and heading directly for the Martian capital Wotan. Many have noted the extraordinary similarities between this episode and the Bruce Willis vehicle "Armageddon".
* The Dark Planet - Professor Heggerty and his daughter Cassiopeia are baffled by a plant sample from
Uranuswith a mind of its own! Following the disappearance of a 20 strong survey team on Uranus, Colonel Raeburn dispatches the Space Patrol crew to locate larger versions of the plant, where they discover the adult specimens of the plant are far from friendly.
* The Slaves of
Neptune- The crew of the Galasphere are sent to solve the mystery of a spaceship sending colonists to Plutowhich disappeared near Neptune. On approach to Neptune Dart, Slim and Husky fall under the hypnotic influence of Neptunian overlord Tyro who is using his powers to trap Earth colonists as slaves.
* The Shrinking Spaceman - When the Galasphere crew are sent to repair the sonar beam transmitter on the
asteroidPallas. Husky succumbs to a mysterious shrinking disease after cutting his hand on a rock. Keeping him in suspended animationProfessor Heggerty attempts to find a cure.
* The Forgers - Colonel Raeburn is baffled by a sudden influx of forged currency. Whilst investigating what appears to be a disease killing the vegetation on
Mars. Dart and Husky stumble across the source of the forgeries...
Robot Revolution- When an undersea eruption at the Atlanticsea farm damages robot workers Space Headquarters is over-run by the rampaging machines, determined to seize control of the city.
* The Rings of
Saturn- Observing Saturn, Dart and his crew notice a meteorshadowing the Galasphere. On discovering it is actually a Saturnian spacecraft, Dart makes contact and bring a tape of Saturnian language back to Earth for decoding. When contact is finally made with the planet it transpires that Dart has inadvertently offended the Saturnian by pricking leaves of their sacred tree.
* Husky becomes
invisible- When Dart is sent to Marsto find the eggs of the Aba birdto help find a cure for a condition known as the "floats", he calls on Professor Zeller who has discovered that his new star-measuring apparatus can make objects disappear.
* The Buried Spaceship - 'Operation Ice Cube' is put into action when Marla suggests moving ice through space as a solution to a drought problem on
Mars. Galasphere 347 is sent to assist but develops a fault in the MesonPower Unit forcing the craft to land for repairs...
* Mystery on the
Moon- From a base on the moon, Berridge threatens Space Headquarters with destruction by laserbeam unless Raeburn agrees to send him a freighter full of gold. Dart is sent to Moon Station One to investigate and discovers an artificial crater.
* The Glowing Eggs of Titan - Husky's discovery of a luminous egg of the
Saturnian moon of Titan could prove to be the solution of the Martian energy crisis. While Dart and his crew are on an egg gathering mission, Slim falls and damages his air line. As he waits to be rescued he hears a strange humming...
* The Walking Lake of
Jupiter- Scientists Dr Brown and Dr Smith discover that water from a Jovian lake has the power to cause inanimate objects to move as if with a life of their own. Dart arrives to witness the phenomenon. and ends up on the trail of the unfortunate Dr Brown, whose spacesuit has become energised by the Jovian water.
* Time Stands Still - Stolen art treasures are being transported into space. Raeburn suspects that Venus millionaire Tara is behind the thefts, but his palace is too well guarded. Professor Heggarty develops a watch that speeds up the wearer's reaction sixty times which enables Dart to sneak into the palace unnoticed.
* Message From A Star - Signals from
Alpha Centaurisuggest intelligent life but it would take a Galasphere 3,000 years to cross the immense distance. Irya, a being from the planet Delta, teleports himself to Earth to fit a special power unit to the Galasphere, enabling it to travel as faster-than-lightspeeds. Professor Haggerty, however, has reservations about making the trip.
* The Fires of Mercury - Professor Heggarty's device for translating the language of
antsalso converts heatwaves into radio waves. Marla realises that this might provide a way of transmitting warmth from Mercury to the Colony on Pluto, where freezing conditions worsen as the planet nears the point in its orbit farthest from the Sun.
* The Invisible Invasion - On
Uranus, the Duo's are planning to seize power on Earth by taking over the minds of everyone at Space Headquarters, including Colonel Raeburn. The one person seemingliy unaffected by the Duo's power is Professor Heggerty, who is installed beneath his electronic hair-restorer!
*The New Planet - Galasphere 347 is in deep space. After a
cometcollides with the ship Dart and his crew discover a new planet beyond the orbit of Pluto. Touching down in the dense forest Dart and Slim meet one of the planet's giant inhabitants.
*The Human Fish - The Tula Fish in the
Venusian Magda Ocean are evolving at an extraordinary rate and attack fishermen. The Galasphere crew are sent to help and discover that building materials, routinely sumped may be the cause of the Tula's accelerated evolution.
*The Planet of Light - Dart and Slim are invited to the planet of Lumen. On their arrival Dart's
oxygencylinder is pierced. The planet's only oxygen comes from blister plants in the 'cave of death'. Dart and Slim must find the plants before dawn, or risk being boiled alive in the heat of the Sun...
*The Talking Bell - On a hunting trip, Raeburn and Hegarty encounter a soft, bell-shaped object with a single extendible leg, It is a visitor from another planet, but Raeburn has accidentally shot its space vehicle down with his 12 bore! Dart is assigned to return 'Mr Bell' to his mother ship.
*The Miracle Tree Of
Saturn- A fungusis destroying crops at an alarming rate. By chance Professor Heggarty discovers a cutting from the Saturnian's sacred tree on Raeburn's desk destroys the fungus and Dart is dispatched to Saturn to obtain further supplies. However, their plan has been overheard by an unscrupulous technician.
Comic strip adaptations
Two comic strip adaptations of Space Patrol were produced:
TV Comic:" 52 double-page strips forming the centrespread of each issue, in issues 668 to 719. They were written by Roberta Leigh herself and illustrated by artist Bill Mevin.
Beezer:" from September 1966to March 1967, illustrated by artist Terry Patrick.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.