Space Patrol (1962 TV series)
For the 1950s television series, see Space Patrol (1950 TV series). For the German television series also known as Space Patrol, see Raumpatrouille.
Space Patrol is a British science-fiction television series featuring marionettes that was produced in 1962 and broadcast beginning in 1963. It was written and produced by Roberta Leigh in association with the Associated British Corporation.
The series features the vocal talents of Rick Vosburgh, Ronnie Stevens, Libby Morris, Murray Kash and Ysanne Churchman, and comprises 39 half-hour episodes. This series is also known by its US title Planet Patrol to avoid confusion with the 1950s American live-action series of the same name. The marionettes used in the series incorporated some elements of Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation technique – specifically their mouths would move in synch with dialogue.
The series is set in the year 2100, by which time the indigenous and autonomous civilizations on Earth, Mars and Venus have banded together to form the United Galactic Organization (UGO). Space Patrol is the UGO's military wing, and the series follows the actions of this interplanetary force, focusing on the missions of a tiny unit led by the heroic, bearded Captain Larry Dart. The humanoids in his crew consist of the elfin Slim from Venus, and the stocky, ravenously sausage-mad Husky from the Red Planet, Mars. The imperfect Slavic accent variants and six-pointed star chest emblems of these two may have been a sly nod to the Jewish-Russian heritage of the English series creator/writer. These men would regularly use one of two interplanetary space vehicles, the Galasphere 347 and the Galasphere 024.
Providing technical support on Earth is the brilliant and inventive Irishman Professor Aloysius O’Brien O’Rourke Haggarty, called "Pop" by his daughter Cassiopeia, to his perpetual dismay. Haggarty's garrulous pet Martian "parrot" (a Gabblerdictum bird), taught to talk in "The Slaves of Neptune" episode, accompanies the crew on rare occasions. Keeping them all on a tight rein are Colonel Raeburn and his super-efficient Venusian secretary, Marla, both also based on Earth.
The show reflected sex roles characteristic of the culture and era which produced it, but blonde and brainy Marla would often explicitly point out that "There are no dumb blondes on Venus." Indeed, the series was created and written by the prolific polymath artist Roberta Leigh, the first woman producer in Britain to have her own film company.
The series was sold overseas and broadcast in the US, Canada and Australia, and in spite of the very low budget – which meant that sometimes the shadow of a puppet could be seen behind a "TV Screen" before the communication device was supposedly turned on —the show rated strongly with young audiences in many regions (including New York City) and garnered a huge following. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski said that it was his favourite TV show as a child.
Whereas Gerry Anderson had a rocket ship in Fireball XL5 that could travel light years to planets around other stars as though they were just a few million miles away, Space Patrol took a more realistic approach. Because of limited speed, trips to other planets in our solar system could take weeks or months and this was facilitated by the crew of the Galasphere going into a freezer chamber and being put in suspended animation for the trip. A robot would then take over (its movements were said to cost £2,000 a time rather than being just a puppet.) The zirgon ray (faster than light) could be used from Earth to wake them up in an emergency. The term "galaxy" was used inaccurately, but consistently, to refer to a solar system in the series, so "Galactic Control" only supervised the local planets and "other galaxies" referred to nearby star-systems.
On other planets, they would use dial-selector translators (dial P for Pluto) to talk to alien beings – at the time, even some serious scientists considered the possibility of life on Venus, Mars and maybe elsewhere. Unusually for a TV show, the translators didn't instantly pick up new languages; they had to be programmed on Earth before they could be used, a lengthy process requiring recordings of the alien language. Life support in hazardous atmospheres was provided by a "Mo-lung" (short for 'Mobile Lung')- a sealed cylindrical transparent helmet, and the crew would often ride around on "Hover Jets", or more rarely, an "Ion Gun" which looked like a giant sparkler firework. Neptune was said to have atomic heating but none of the planets were really cold, such as when Dart walked about on Pluto (in "The Buried Spaceship") without any extra protection in what would be temperatures of about −230 °C.
The Galasphere had a top speed of about 800,000 mph, using "meson power". In "The Talking Bell" episode, they use "Boost Speed", which is dangerous, but allows them to travel at almost one million miles per hour for a long period. Meson power is dangerous to use in atmosphere. The engine also used gamma rays and 'Yobba rays'. The Galasphere has a force field which would protect it from enemy missiles, and it also turned out to protect them from the mind control of the evil Neptunians who were thousands of years ahead of Earth people, with great mental powers, and who hated work.
The Galasphere was constructed of Plutonite from Pluto, and a number of times, like in "The Human Fish", it also travelled underwater. Pluto was the furthest they normally travelled but after an accident they went way beyond that to a self-heated new planet which was full of giants who treated the Galasphere as a toy. Another time, an alien from Alpha Centauri visited them and installed a device which allowed the Galasphere to travel faster than light (at which point it vanished). They had their adventure twenty five trillion miles away and then returned to Earth, and just made it, with Galasphere 347 collapsing under the strain of such travel, just as they left it. In "The Planet of Light", Dart and Slim were taken to a planet circling Sirius (8.7 light years away) in just a few hours. This fast journey was necessary as the "light beings" who took them would be poisoned by air, so the two had to rely on their own supplies.
In "The Rings of Saturn" and a minority of other episodes, the crew rode the Galasphere 024, rather than the Galasphere 347. The references to Galasphere 024 are, for the most part, continuity errors introduced by the continual re-use of stock footage from the pilot episode, "The Swamps of Jupiter". Although the Galasphere is referred to as 024 during the takeoff programme sequence, it is often later referred to as 347 in the same episode.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Patrol_(1962_TV_series)
Roberta Leigh was an assumed name for Rita Lewin (née Shulman) (22 December 1926 – 19 December 2014) who was a British author, artist, composer and television producer. She wrote romance fiction and children's stories under the pseudonyms Roberta Leigh, Rachel Lindsay, Janey Scott and Rozella Lake.
She published her first novel in 1950 and was still actively working on new titles until a year before her death. In addition, she wrote and produced the children's puppet television series Sara and Hoppity, Torchy the Battery Boy, Wonder Boy and Tiger, Send for Dithers and Space Patrol.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Leigh
Roberta did not like rockets! As opposed to Gerry Anderson and Fireball XL5 who loved them. She was much more in tune with UFOs and George Adamski.
George Adamski (17 April 1891 – 23 April 1965) was a Polish-American author who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he displayed numerous photographs in the 1940s and 1950s that he said were of alien spacecraft, claimed to have met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them to the Moon and other planets.
Adamski was the first, and most famous, of several so-called UFO contactees who came to prominence during the 1950s. Adamski called himself a "philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher", although most investigators concluded his claims were an elaborate hoax, and that Adamski himself was a charlatan and a con artist.
Adamski authored three books describing his meetings with Nordic aliens and his travels with them aboard their spaceships: Flying Saucers Have Landed (co-written with Desmond Leslie) in 1953, Inside the Space Ships in 1955, and Flying Saucers Farewell in 1961. The first two books were both bestsellers; by 1960 they had sold a combined 200,000 copies. In addition to his contributions to ufology in the United States, Adamski's work became very popular in Japan and helped inspire many depictions of aliens and UFOs in postwar Japanese culture and media.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Adamski