Space Patrol

October 5, 2008

My first ever exposure to the fantastic worlds of Science Fiction as a child wasn’t books or comics but rather two puppet shows. Circa 1963/1964 I was enthralled by “Fireball XL5” and “Space Patrol”. Although only viewed in Black and White on an ancient Ekco TV (with a 14″ screen in a much larger rectangular box) these two programmes were the highlights of my week. Incidentally the TV set was made by the British company E.K.Cole in the mid 1950s. Those were the days when Japanese/Chinese imported electrical goods didn’t exist. The cabinet maker was as important as the designer of the electrical bits. And “letting it warm up” was the period of waiting for the valves to build up enough to put a 405 line (50Hz VHF) picture upon the tube.

“Fireball XL5” is well known even today as the third in a number of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionations. “Space Patrol” however seems to have fallen through a crack in time and space and has never been re-shown on TV since the 1960s to the best of my knowledge. I don’t know what brought the thought into my head but I’ve just looked on Youtube and, sure enough, there it is. The opening and closing scenes contain some of the first electronic music/sound effects as it was broadcast even before the first episode of the long-running Dr Who (another influence I suppose.) The alien characters in “Space Patrol” are peculiar, but, like “Fireball XL5” it does contain what I still imagine to this day “proper” robots should look like. There is a boxed set DVD now available but it seems quite expensive.

(PS:to prevent any confusion “Space Patrol” was apparantly called “Planet Patrol” in the States as there had already been a “Space Patrol” live action Science Fiction show on American TV in the 1950s.)

4 Responses to “Space Patrol”

  1. Dave White Says:

    What a great site; I’ve bookmarked it, though I can’t remember now how I initially stumbled upon it. However, I do remember owning a Magic Robot game, collecting various comics and magazines such as Mad, Magnus Robot Fighter, Marvel comics (the list is way too long to continue here), and even listening to Radio North Sea International, just like “themagicrobot”.

    I too watched Space Patrol and Fireball XL5 (not forgetting Supercar) and would head to our neighbours’ house to watch Dr Who (we didn’t own a TV at that time) featuring William Hartnell, suitably ensconced with my little friend behind the sofa, in classic style for the scary bits (especially the Daleks, of course).

    I bought Outer Limits bubblegum cards, jet aircraft cards (the X-15 card, particularly, was what would now be described as “cool”), American Civil War cards, Man From Uncle and Monkees cards, and it would appear that I generally lived a similar ephemera-filled childhood as “the magicrobot”. Separated at birth? Maybe not, but it’s great trawling through all those memories again via the site and knowing that other “kids” enjoyed the same sort of magic, robots or otherwise.

  2. themagicrobot Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Dave. Award yourself a “No Prize” for being able to comprehend what’s going on here. The TV show that got me hiding behind the sofa was Gerry Anderson’s “UFO”. There was something about those aliens…… But I liked the Moonbase girls and Ayshea…
    (I wonder whatever happened to her?).

  3. Dave White Says:

    Thanks. I’ll put the “No Prize” alongside the Blue Peter badge I never won. I watched UFO and quite enjoyed it and yes, the Alpha females were easy on the eye. Ayshea Brough was her name if memory serves me correctly (though probably not). I think there was some attempt at launching a pop career for her. And wasn’t she on some TV show that also featured puppets? As I write this I’m also reminded of TV21 comic for some reason, too; is there a link there with Gerry Anderson?

    It’s amazing what one forgets but nevertheless a surprising amount seems to lurk in the dimmer recesses of the brain. Over the years I would often fondly recall an American comic I used to read occasionally, which featured a robot wars-style theme, and it was only when I discovered your site that I was pointed in the direction of Magnus, Robot Fighter (or Magnum, as a comic dealer’s search engine preferred to interpret my subsequent request for information, with zero result, of course).

    I’ve just ordered a copy of the Robinson Crusoe DVD from Amazon; that’s the French TV version that the Beeb broadcast back in the 60s or early 70s. It made a big impact on me, and numerous other kids of the time, it would seem, and the music was very evocative. Art Of Noise did an excellent album called Ambient in the late 80s or early 90s and incorporated an update of the Robinson Crusoe theme to great effect.

    You mention somewhere about your first record player. My folks had a Dansette (with a record library that included Des O’Connor and the theme from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) but, before all that, they bought me a Kidditunes toy gramophone and I loved it. One of the brightly coloured (red?) records was titled “Instruments of the Orchestra” and featured characters such as Lucy Lynn the Violin and Peter Percussion. Happy days!

    Eventually I bought a Fidelity Music Master thanks to my paper-round earnings. It had a great sound though I always hankered after a music centre (can’t remember the manufacturer) that incorporated a wood (or wood effect) surround and one of those turntables with the strobe-thingie to ensure it revolved in accurate time. It looked really sophisticated. Just like me.

  4. themagicrobot Says:

    In a case of synchronicity the other day I was playing this from a CD of TV themes.
    http://www.box.net/shared/kg9z98f22k
    At the time of the TV show I assumed it was “classical music” but I’m pretty sure it was composed specifically for “Robinson Crusoe”. The first/last 30 seconds are so evocative of the 1960s.
    And when I heard this
    http://www.box.net/shared/1vyqd6ov43
    I just had to head along to Amazon and buy the whole box set.
    And getting side-tracked again I’ve just looked up Ayshea Brough (?!) and there doesn’t seem too much current info apart from her moving to the States in the 1980s and then back to the UK. Of course she was married to the son of Peter Brough the UK “ventriloquist”(He was more popular on the radio than the TV…he couldn’t actually “throw” his voice and his lips moved!)who had a dummy called Archie Andrews. I wonder if this was BEFORE or AFTER the Archie comic character of the same name in the USA?
    I still have the third record player I ever owned. Again it was a hand-me-down. A 1950s HMV Radiogramme with a wonderful Garrard deck inside (either a 301 or a 401) capable of picking up all the Shortwave Bands. I actually recorded RNI from it on the 49m band as reception was much better than their Medium Wave signal…whoops I’m digressing again….thanks for your comments…I must look out for that Art of Noise record too……


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