Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Star Cops

Star Cops was a British science fiction television series first broadcast on BBC2 in 1987. It 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.

The show was 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.

The series follows 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 realised hard Science Fiction, 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.


Nathan Spring (David Calder): Nathan Spring is a 41-year-old Chief Superintendent in the British police force who reluctantly accepts promotion to Commander of the International Space Police Force with the brief of turning them into a full-time professional police force. Spring is a career policeman who has become disenchanted with the prevailing methods of policing which, he feels, are too dependent on computer logic and not on human instinct. His first job as a young detective was to arrest his own father, a computer salesman, for industrial espionage. Spring is man who is driven but lonely, a man who doesn’t make friends easily and whose ability to do so is not easy on account of his choice of career and work environment. His constant companion is Box, a prototype handheld computer (also voiced by Calder), bequeathed to him by his father. The conversations between Box and Spring provide insight into Spring’s emotional state and thought processes as Spring engages in “almost Jacobean-style soliloquies” with the device.

David Theroux (Erick Ray Evans): Spring’s second in command is Chief Superintendent David Theroux, an American. Theroux, an engineer, started out in the US space program but quit and joined the European space effort instead. When he is introduced in the opening episode “An Instinct for Murder,” he is working as a traffic controller and part-time Star Cop on the European space station Charles de Gaulle. Movie buff Theroux generally tries to maintain an air of wise-cracking, cool detachment which breaks down only when he is forced in “This Case to be Opened in a Million Years” to face his morbid fear of radioactivity.

Colin Devis (Trevor Cooper)
When Spring’s girlfriend, Lee Jones, is killed in “Conversations with the Dead”, the task of investigating the murder is handed to Chief Inspector Colin Devis of the London Metropolitan Police, “one of the Department’s all-time cretins”. Devis’ pursuit of the killer, an agent of the British Secret Service, costs him his job but Spring compensates him by hiring him, at the rank of Inspector, for the ISPF. Although Devis is not the sharpest investigator, is heart is in the right place and he is fiercely loyal to Spring. Overweight, sexist and bigoted, five times married Devis is the series’ main comedy element and frequently gets the best lines.
Pal Kenzy (Linda Newton)
Australian Pal Kenzy is briefly glimpsed in “An Instinct for Murder” and then introduced properly in “Intelligent Listening for Beginners” where she is fired by Spring for corruption. Determined not to go quietly, Spring is forced to reinstate her when she foils an attempted hijacking on the Earth-Moon shuttle. She has a stormy relationship with Spring who mistrusts her but over the course of the series they develop a close bond. By the end of the series it is apparent that Spring has saved her from falling into a pit of corruption whereas she has restored his faith in humanity.
Anna Shoun (Sayo Inaba)
Rounding off the team is Dr Anna Shoun, a 29-year-old general physician from Japan. Spring takes her on when she is fired for betraying her employers, the multinational Hanimed corporation, to the Star Cops in the episode “In Warm Blood”. The Shoun character has been criticised as a racial stereotype, a charge that has also been levelled at other aspects of the series such as depicting Italians as members of the Mafia, Arabs as Islamists and Americans as jingoistic warmongers.
Alexander Krivenko (Jonathan Adams)
Finally, introduced in Trivial Games and Paranoid Pursuits, is Russian Alexander Krivenko, the commander of the Moonbase where the ISPF have their headquarters. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, it is Krivenko’s research into bone damage that has contributed to enabling humanity to access space easily. Although the Star Cops are independent, Spring’s relationship with Krivenko is often deferential and he frequently seems to capitulate to Krivenko’s wishes

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.

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