Star Cops

by CHRIS BOUCHER

The year is 2027. When a swimmer is found drowned in a London park, the police computer rules the death as accidental. Chief Superintendent Nathan Spring’s natural instincts lead him to suspect otherwise, and he begins an investigation - despite the objections of his colleagues and superiors. To deflect him from pursuing this, Spring is manipulated into accepting a job that he does not want - as commander of the International Space Police Force, an organisation set up to enforce law and order on various space stations orbiting the Earth. The ISPF, disparagingly nicknamed the ‘Star Cops’, is an undistinguished force populated by undisciplined officers, concerned mainly with their own welfare and making money on the side, rather than upholding the law.

Arriving at the European space station Charles de Gaulle, Spring struggles to adapt to conditions in low gravity while working to mould his team into an effective force for law enforcement. Before he’s even begun to adjust, he discovers that several crewmembers have recently died, following unforeseen spacesuit malfunction. Although these apparent accidents fall well within the limits of statistical acceptability, Spring’s instincts again lead to him to suspect the work of a saboteur. He decides to expose the culprit by taking a desperate course of action - gambling with his own life...

Elsewhere, Spring’s second-in-command David Theroux investigates an explosion on a distant space freighter that has knocked the craft off course and condemned its two pilots to death, the Star Cops are warned of terrorist attacks by a communications expert based on the Moon, a scientist disappears without trace from the American space station - with the crew denying his very existence - and rumours begin to grow of alien artefacts having been discovered on Mars...

  


Star Cops was originally devised by writer Chris Boucher as a radio serial, but it was instead commissioned for television, and shown in the summer of 1987. Fraught with production difficulties, it was neither a ratings nor – in the first instance – a critical success, but has subsequently been re-appraised as one of British TV’s most ambitious and well-written forays into science fiction.

  • “The strength of Star Cops is the writing. I don’t think any of the episodes are realised as well on screen as they are on the page.” - Kim Newman

 

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