Stingray – 24. Star of the East

Directed by Desmond Saunders

Teleplay by Alan Fennell

First UK Broadcast – 14th February 1965

I can’t skirt around the fact that I’ve been looking forward to writing about this particular episode since the start of this series of reviews. Star of the East is an episode I remember fondly from my childhood, and have continued to enjoy again and again up until the present day. It is a firm favourite of mine, and there is a very simple reason for that. I think El Hudat is one of the greatest guest characters that Supermarionation has ever brought to the screen. He is a force of nature, driving the plot of not just this episode, but an unprecedented follow-up episode in Eastern Eclipse. El Hudat, egotistical maniac that he is, makes this episode all about him. It’s almost difficult to talk about any other aspect of Star of the East because the character just dominates so much, coming into Marineville and turning the lives of our heroes upside down by doing what he does best – looking after number one.

It’s not a proven fact, but I’d say you know an episode is going to be good when it kicks off with some explosive action. Wadi is an impressive gunboat, and proves its power pretty explicitly by blowing up a freighter ship, one of the same models seen in The Disappearing Ships but repainted for its appearance here. The shots of the guns themselves are reminiscent of footage from the Second World War. The moment where the cannon fires at the boat in the distance uses forced perspective very effectively.

A second attack completely annihilates the target vessel. There can be no doubt that Derek Meddings and his team have really refined their pyrotechnics now and understand how best to film them. I can’t help but watch certain special effects shots in Fireball XL5 and wonder whether anyone had any idea just how big the bangs were going to be when they lit the fuse and rolled camera. Here, the effects look more controlled, but ultimately more impressive as a result because they have been tailored to what looks best on screen.

Here’s a slightly perculiar moment which you can’t unsee once you notice it. As the Wadi makes its turn, it appears to suddenly vanish before the planes fly through shot. Of course, these are two separate shots, but because they are filmed in exactly the same part of the water tank with the sky backdrop in an identical position, the two shots don’t cut together properly. It’s a rare mistake for the effects team and editors, who normally take great care to assemble sequences which flow perfectly.

The Wadi’s anti-aircraft guns make quick work of the target planes. Check out that masking tape in the bottom left corner holding the Wadi’s hull together – clearly El Hudat didn’t hire the best ship builders. Incidentally, the word ‘wadi’ refers to a valley which remains dry except in the rainy season. Doesn’t seem like a particularly good name for a boat. Is the vessel indestructible except for when it rains?

Apparently the Stingray crew are quite happy to sit and watch this carnage unfold. Maybe it’s a Bank Holiday?

With cushions, deck chairs, and a selection of drinks and snacks available, I’d say this is certainly more of a party than a warzone.

The destruction keeps on coming as Wadi launches a torpedo and wipes out another vessel named M.N. 112. The bottom of said vessel is noticeably wooden as the debris is flown in all directions.

I absolutely adore the combination of puppets and models in this shot to really sell the idea that the spectators are watching the Wadi from the middle of the ocean.

Right then, this is El Hudat. The puppet uses Masterspy from Supercar as its basis, and the head is known to survive to this day. The character immediately stands out because of his unique shape and caricatured features. Hudat is the ruler of a country which we later learn in Eastern Eclipse is named after him, Hudatvia. He’s spent $500,000,000 on building Wadi, and is now presenting it as a “little gesture” to the World Security Patrol in exchange for membership. From what we come to know of El Hudat, it’s safe to say that this extravagant expense, and this desire to join the WSP is purely an opportunity to flex his enormous ego. The character is driven purely by an incredibly high opinion of himself. Hudatvia’s exact location is never specified, but it’s fairly clear that El Hudat originates from a cultural mish-mash of the Middle East and Africa. He’s more than a bit of a stereotype of the dictators one might find running a country in that region in the mid-20th Century, using enormous spending and military might to climb the ladder of global politics. Such countries with unstable leaders ruling from unstable positions, were often the butt of the joke in Western media, including other Anderson series – see the Supercar episodes Island Incident and Hi-Jack, or the Joe 90 episodes King for a Day and Viva Cordova. Politics dogged by murder, coups, double-dealing, and acts of war were a constant source of weird and wonderful plots for action-adventure shows in the West. It all sounded so exotic and exciting and ridiculous to the British and American viewers, enjoying the show from the apparent safety and security of their respective democracies. Now, you may think that making tyrants into comic figures is insensitive, or you might think it’s justly deserved, but the fact a show like Stingray, a puppet sci-fi series made primarily for children, can present such a character without hesitation, is just a fascinating notion to me. Satire is everywhere and can take the most surprising forms.

I don’t need to begin to point out the immense symbolism behind the raising and lowering of the Hudatvian flag throughout the episode. It’s presented on screen nestled directly in between the flags of the big Western powers of the United States and the United Kingdom – which also serves Stingray‘s agenda of appealing to the American market without alienating British viewers. Far in the background we also have the flags of Pakistan (which is missing its white band and has too many stars), Sweden (which is noticeably too pale), the USSR (which rather dates the show), and a red and white striped flag which is completely unidentifiable and doesn’t appear to belong to any real country from the time. I think all that is a fair indicator that all the background flags were purely chosen to represent a variety of flags designs to look interesting on screen, and one shouldn’t read too much into the politics of it. The episode title, Star of the East, coupled with El Hudat’s initials being emblazened on his country’s flag either side of a gigantic star tell us pretty clearly that Hudat is both the star of the show, and the star of his own little world. “The East” is a pretty generic term to suggest that all you really need to know is that Hudatvia is far, far away – probably too far away for Western leaders to take seriously. See countless essays on orientalism and colonialism which I probably should have paid more attention to at university…

This conference room is a new set but there are many familiar elements. Shore’s chair at the head of the table is pinched straight from the WSP conference room last seen in Pink Ice. The chandelier was last seen in Zero-Red’s office in Marineville Traitor, as were various knick-knacks like the globe, the bust, and the eagle ashtray. Apparently all it takes to induct Hudatvia into the WSP is a gathering of those three blokes we saw at H.Q. in the pilot episode and Pink Ice, plus all the regular cast. Not sure whether the likes of Phones or Marina would really have much of an official role at proceedings like this but it must be nice for them to feel so important.

El Hudat is pleased as punch, wondering how they have managed for so long without his personal support. Just in case it needed emphasising again, El Hudat sees this as him joining the service, not his country. This is all about him. Atlanta and Troy immediately smell a rat and shoot each other some knowing glances.

Here’s a glorious little bit. Just before Shore can get the necessary signature, Fisher rushes in with the tiniest of little notes and whispers incomprehensibly in the commander’s ear. It’s a fantastically understated moment. It gives us a little insight into Shore and Fisher’s relationship, with Fisher quietly not wanting to make a nuissance of himself, while Shore is quietly put out by the interruption. Then there’s the fact that the grandeur of the whole event is being spoiled with this tiny bit of business, something which visibly puts out El Hudat and dents his ego. Finally, there’s the simple fact that this is such a polite, civilised, westernised way of delivering news of a major political incident. Decorum and manners must be maintained, even when the person involved is sitting a few feet away. There’s a genuine sense of embarrassment around the whole thing. Coups and forceful takeovers simply aren’t the done thing in the West – it’s too impolite – so Shore and Fisher need to discuss it in hushed tones.

El Hudat’s reaction to the news is far less restrained…

For the sake of symbolism more than anything else, the flag of Hudatvia is immediately lowered. I suppose when it comes to flags, everything is about symbolism really. Barry Gray’s “wah-wah-wah” music says it all. This whole incident is deeply embarrassing for all concerned.

We soon learn that El Hudat has been deposed by his own brother. It’s another plot point borrowed straight from Supercar‘s Island Incident, and it’s one which will be expanded upon much further when we get to Eastern Eclipse. This Shakespearean fascination with family members and close alliances overthrowing their own flesh and blood obviously has great storytelling potential, even if the real world examples are few and far between.

After pleading that the whole thing must be a lie, Hudat then turns to his associate, Abu, to point the finger of blame. Abu’s exact role is unclear, but basically he’s here to be a comedy sidekick and that’s okay by me. His outfit was previously worn by the cafe owner in Treasure Down Below. The script is very keen push Hudat’s stereotypical Middle-Eastern heritage and vernacular with most insults making comparisons to creatures found in the desert, from camels to scorpions. Apparently Hudat’s brother was previously in jail to prevent this precise incident from happening, but it was Hudat who had him released, basically making all of this his fault. But no, it’s time for the finger of blame to be pointed at someone else…

“The people around this table!” There’s no doubt that David Graham is having an absolute ball performing this character, with line deliveries which deservedly chew up the scenery and spit it out. With nobody else to blame, Hudat assumes that the WSP themselves sponsored the revolt in order to take his gunboat, but otherwise want to hang the fearless leader out to dry. Troy and Atlanta object to this notion, and continue to respectfully refer to Hudat as “your excellency.” Again, all of this is terribly embarrassing, and this outpouring of upset from El Hudat just isn’t proper.

Atlanta claims that the service sympathises with Hudat’s government, and then refuses to maintain eye contact with him. I’m not sure she has the authority to make such an important diplomatic claim, but sure, let’s all play at being an ambassador today. While they deny any involvement in the revolt, I do love the idea that in a twisted, underhand way, the WSP might have interfered just to snatch up some of Hudatvia’s resources like the gunboat, without having to deal with the people at the top anymore – it wouldn’t be the first time a predominantly Western power has done such a thing. But wait, this is supposed to be the World Security Patrol, representing the security interests of nations all over the world, so the fact every character in a position of authority here is American is purely an accident, honest… No, sadly, the world hadn’t quite caught up to the Andersons’ vision of a truly international group of people working together, so we’re stuck with these all-white, all-American heroes for a while longer. Captain Scarlet was the first series to truly make strides towards resolving this contradiction in ideals. Anyway, Hudat calls Atlanta a “sphinx of a thousand starless nights,” implying she is a treacherous, human-eating monster lurking in the dark. That’s nice, isn’t it?

Needless to say, this is taken as a bit of an insult and Shore visibly loses his cool. The niceties of diplomacy are starting to break down.

“You are the small toe, as well as the large, of a camel’s left foot,” is another award-winning insult from Hudat. Obviously, this dialogue was written before the toe of a camel took on an entirely different symbolic meaning… unless El Hudat really is going there! Camels only have two toes on each foot, perhaps suggesting that Shore is lacking in certain faculties compared to others. The choice of a camel’s “left foot” is probably significant too, tying in with the term “left-footer”, while the “toe” might also be derived from the term “toe-rag” to mean scrounger. There sure is a lot of poetry in these insults! They actually make El Hudat seem quite erudite. He certainly wouldn’t be the first leader to compensate for his lack of ability with grand, flowery language.

Marina protests in the only polite way she can, by shaking her heads with great conviction. I like that. She easily could have sat quietly and stayed out of the argument, but instead she stands up for the World Security Patrol.

Troy leaps to Marina’s defense when it becomes clear that El Hudat has plans to drown her in dribble. Yes, like so many powerful, unattractive, rich men, El Hudat treats Marina like a piece of property and has aspirations of taking her home with him like a souvenir. It’s the least surprising character trait found in anyone since Lady Penelope revealed she quite liked tea.

Hudat is ordered to leave Marineville. Not immediately, of course, that would be impolite, but first thing in the morning. He takes the opportunity to announce his plans for revenge to the entire room. The desk in the foreground is also borrowed from Zero-Red’s office in Marneville Traitor. Also note that the familiar red and white launch tower for the WASP interceptor rockets is visible through the window.

Hudat laughs off the threat of Stingray hunting him down. To be fair to him, Troy and co. haven’t exactly done a terrific job of taking down Titan, tyrant of the sea and their primary target in the ongoing war with the underwater races. Hudat finishes by calling himself a “great big toe.” I’m struggling to find the poetry behind that one since toe was used as an insult a few seconds ago and now apparently it’s a good thing. Maybe the bigger the toe, the better the person? Perhaps he just has a bit of a thing for feet. Curiously, this conference room joins on to a corridor which uses the back wall of the WSP conference room last seen in Pink Ice, proudly declaring that this is the WSP H.Q. which we’ve seen many times is based in Washington, not Marineville – but I’m fairly confident we’re supposed to be at Marineville what with the aforementioned view from the window, the presence of the entire Stingray crew and control tower team, and all the flag pole business going on outside.

Guess what? Do you need me to say it? Does it even need mentioning at this point? … oh go on then, I’m enough of a pedant to bring it up yet again… the WSP Commander’s voice has changed! He’s still voiced by David Graham as he was in Pink Ice but this time he’s dropped his French accent because, hey, why the heck not?!

The contract which El Hudat was getting ready to sign is difficult to read, but appears to have the heading ‘MINIATURE FRAMES’ and is signed ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ which rather suggests the props team had to put this paperwork together using whatever they had to hand in the workshop.

The guest quarters are represented by footage of the Shores’ and Marina’s apartment block seen in multiple episodes. The car parked outside is Jacques Jordan’s from The Man From The Navy.

El Hudat is feeling terribly sorry for himself, being forced to share his evening with an entire lobster, chicken, and ham, plus a stack of sandwiches and whatever that meaty stick in his left hand is supposed to be. Abu is either trying to fan him or dust him. The set for the guest quarters is simply a modified version of the Shores’ living room, with the flooring borrowed from Atlanta’s bedroom. Furnishings have been added to give the room a Middle-Eastern flavour, representing El Hudat’s insistence on living in luxury and making himself at home.

Hudat is sweaty and covered in meat drippings. He clearly has a weakness for food, and his gluttony is put on full display for comic effect. Abu appears to be a genuinely faithful servant, at least for the time being. Hudat begins to delight in the possibility of using his mighty gunship to have his revenge on the WSP.

First though, he has to bring down Stingray. And to do that, he needs to bring down Troy Tempest. And to do that, he’s going to slap Tempest in the nuts. Nah, not really, though that would be amusing. He’s threatening to break Troy’s heart. Might I suggest feeding him an entire lobster, chicken, and ham, and letting cholesterol do the rest?

The camera looks away as Hudat and Abu start plotting. Again, it would be impolite for us to listen in on such a conversation. The music is an Eastern theme composed for the first series of Supercar. I’m not suggesting that a deliberate choice was made to associate the East with devious scheming… actually, no, that is what I’m suggesting. There’s no getting around the fact that there are moments in this episode that are unkind to Eastern civilisations in general. Yes, El Hudat is a flawed and unsympathetic character in his own right, but his Eastern background is directly linked to those flaws at times by the way he is presented, such as when heavily Eastern-themed music plays when he’s up to no good.

In order to keep the pace of the episode moving, we cut straight to the next morning with a well-placed music cue to establish danger, and the news that Marina has disappeared. Phones is too busy using the vending machine to care about any of this, but Troy immediately has his suspicions that El Hudat has kidnapped her. Shore wouldn’t dare to leap to such a conclusion straight away and insists that Marineville be searched thoroughly in case she went off on her own. In fairness, that’s exactly what she did last week in The Master Plan so it’s not a bad suggestion.

Meanwhile, Wadi is zipping away from Marineville as fast as possible. Can you guess who might be aboard?

Who knows how they did it, but somehow Marina was snatched by Abu and Hudat. It’s quite a subtle thing, but Hudat has already made his mark on her as a piece of his own property by dressing Marina in a Middle-Eastern garment. A few close-up shots of Marina for this episode are filmed with the background in soft focus to offer her the angelic glow that many a glamorous Hollywood actress would also be photographed in at that time. Hudat plans to take Marina to Monte Carlo in order to “show her off,” which pretty much says it all, really.

As Hudat looms over Marina to talk about how brilliant he is, Marina leans back and looks to the camera for some sympathy. No words at all, but the character is still able to say so much. Studying a portrait of himself, Hudat remarks on how his people and even the oil beneath his land would worship him. And I thought Troy had a high opinion of himself. But despite citing bravery and good looks as the reasoning behind his rise to power, Hudat does also indicate that it was the choice of the people to make him President, suggesting a democratic election process… or at least an election process that El Hudat considers to be democratic enough as long as it goes in his favour.

Once again for the series, a clock wipe transition is used over a clock to suggest a dramatic passage of time while Hudat bangs on about his handsome face.

El Hudat is back to eating but is also smoking hookah to really drive home all the Middle-Eastern tropes. Abu is quick to point out that the oil made Hudatvia rich, not the President, but he’s careful to make the observation in the form of a question so as to appear ignorant rather than disrespectful. Marina is having an absolutely ghastly time, and her day gets worse when news reaches them that a remote controlled World Security Patrol freighter aircraft is overhead and within range of Wadi’s guns…

Now if we’re going to be precise, it’s actually just a regular WASP Spearhead Bomber, but most people at home probably wouldn’t notice because it’s completely destroyed within a matter of seconds.

Let’s just say that Hudat is feeling pleased with himself, and requests more food in order to celebrate. He’s surrounded by fruit, but let’s be real, his diet is primarily fueled by meat, butter, and regular trips to Greggs.

So now that one of their planes has been blown up, Shore decides that this is the time to get Stingray into action. Oh, and Marina’s still missing so I guess they should help her out too.

Stingray is launched, but Troy can’t even be bothered to sit down and help with the steering this week.

Meanwhile, El Hudat is having a conversation with Marina’s chest.

Abu has come to report another ship sighting, but this time it’s a passenger craft. Hudat doesn’t want to get caught up in mass slaughter and chooses to let it go free because he’s such a top bloke. Despite how gosh darn nice he is, Marina still backs away nervously whenever he puts his massive face near hers.

The fury with which he talks about Stingray is superb. The whole puppet shakes with rage. I don’t see how he can infer that Troy insulted him, but I also doubt El Hudat’s sensitive ego can put up with much criticism at all, so sure, let’s say that Troy insulted him by suggesting he couldn’t have what he wanted.

Troy and Phones attempt to come up with something vaguely resembling a plan. They don’t want to open fire on the Wadi with Marina aboard, which means peaceful negotiation is the only option. That’s not exactly Troy’s specialty but I have faith.

I’ll say this for El Hudat, he sure designs a nice-looking tub. And of course he would want a warship that looks more like a pleasure yacht. Rarely for a special effects shot, I think the film might have been sped up, rather than slowed down. Those of you familiar with the Thunderbirds behind the scenes film taken by Parade will recognise this model as the one which is blown up for a special effects demonstration during the shooting of Day of Disaster.

Another day, another one of those remote controlled freighters from The Disappearing Ships for El Hudat to destroy for no good reason. It’s quite a pretty explosion mind you – nice pink dust clouds.

To close out the first act, Hudat reminds us all that he’s going to destroy Stingray. Sure you will, buddy. Now you’re wearing big boy pants you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Stingray has successfully caught up with Wadi and elegantly cruises through the water before coming to a stop. Phones is sitting in Troy’s seat! Things must be desperate. Troy does his best impression of a diplomat in order to get El Hudat back to Marineville without bloodshed.

It doesn’t take long for Troy to suggest violence, though, once again citing the WASP regulation that means Marina is apparently quite willing to sacrifice herself. I wouldn’t have thought El Hudat was worth dying over, but hey, maybe I’m not as brave as Marina.

Abu reckons they’re pretty stuffed by this point, but Hudat has a little more faith in Wadi’s destructive capabilities. Troy is patiently counting down in order to give the criminals time to surrender, his fingers twitching over the missile switch. Ooo I bet those switches get flicked with a satisfying click and a firm clunk up and down. I’d be firing sting missiles all day long just to enjoy the sensation of moving those switches around. Regulations should require weapon control systems be as unpleasant to touch as possible just to avoid freaks like me sitting down and fiddling with buttons and switches at every opportunity.

Within 30 seconds, the order is given for Wadi to open fire on Stingray. Footage from earlier of the torpedo launching is flipped to suggest it’s going in the other direction.

There’s a terrific explosion while Phones slams Stingray into reverse gear.

Troy dashes back to his seat as if someone’s left a box of Milk Tray on there for him to scoff… except Phones is still sitting in Troy’s chair, so he’s actually running towards Phones’ chair… which means the Milk Tray was put there for both of them? Or one of them? Who delivered the Milk Tray? What’s it doing on a submarine? Wait, what? No, you’re the one who’s losing it.

Footage of Stingray caught in a whirlpool is reused from Treasure Down Below to suggest the submarine is going through a turbulent dive.

While Marina sobs at the possibility of Troy and Phones’ demise, El Hudat has declared himself master of the sea… there’s a shiny green twit in Titanica who might have something to say about that. The set of Wadi’s deck was last seen as the freighter in The Disappearing Ships, and previously in the Supercar episode, Pirate Plunder.

Despite El Hudat’s unshakeable self confidence, it turns out that all is well aboard Stingray. Well, Phones and Troy are still sat in the wrong seats which hurts my brain, but otherwise everything is fine. So, having faked their own deaths, Troy and Phones are now going to follow the Wadi underwater until nightfall. Then Troy will reveal his little surprise. I sincerely hope he keeps his trousers on.

El Hudat sleeps in a little nest of cushions aboard the Wadi. The bowl of fruit next to his bed is purely decorative. He is wearing the dressing gown which was last seen hanging in X20’s disguise room in Count Down, but also previously worn by Steve Zodiac in Fireball XL5. By contrast, Abu is sleeping somewhere that doesn’t provide adequate blanket coverage for his little toes. Marina is left to wallow in the main living space. So this $500,000,000 ship only has the one proper bedroom then?

The bridge is crewed by one chap in a vaguely militaristic uniform. The set is made up of all sorts of bits and pieces previously seen in Treasure Down Below, The Disappearing Ships, the Mechanical Fish, and even Fireball XL5’s central control room.

Troy is climbing up the ladder, with the aid of a very well hidden floor puppeteer.

Through sheer luck, he happens to stumble upon where Marina is sleeping first. She is unbelievably happy to see Troy who offers reassurement that everything will be fine. No violence from Troy yet, but you can bet it’s coming!

Troy starts faffing about in the shadows of the bridge to lure the attention of this nice man who just wants to fire missiles pointlessly all day long. That’s a handsome beard he’s sporting.

Troy has a devilish look in his eyes which suggests he’s about to do unspeakable things to this man.

Something tells me that Troy has done all this before, as he locks the door with extreme efficiency and without stirring the other passengers.

Troy can steer any boat he’s put in front of, so it doesn’t take him long to turn the Wadi around. Phones is ordered to continue following until the morning. The ship races towards us at alarming speed. Has Troy been drinking? Stupid question.

It’s time for breakfast and Hudat is once again tucking into a chicken while surrounded by mountains of fruit. The day is ruined when Troy calls Hudat a fatso over the radio and reveals they are heading back to Marineville. Once again, Abu gets the blame for the oversight because how else do powerful people stay powerful if they’re not passing the buck?

Instead of storming over to the bridge and threatening to shoot Tempest, poor El Hudat just decides to have a childish sulk for the rest of the trip. Either that or he’s too full of chicken to move.

Marina is saved once again and jolly pleased about it. I’m glad she’s had a little more to do in the past couple of episodes but, frankly, I would like to think she could have done all this without Troy’s help. We know she can navigate boats because she successfully steers Stingray onto a new course in Treasure Down Below. Maybe she would have lacked Troy’s bloodlust when the time came to beat up the captain, but still, it’s odd that she’s left to her own devices all night and didn’t do anything to help herself out. Perhaps her faith in Troy is so strong at this point she just knows he’ll be along to rescue her, even though she seemed pretty convinced he was dead… Or, maybe, she was just starting to come around to the idea of a new life in Monte Carlo with a millionaire tyrant and didn’t want to make a fuss.

Back in the conference room, Shore is throwing the book at El Hudat, with mention of a trial at the World High Court.

The true hero of the hour, Lt. Fisher, steps in with another well-timed interruption. What could it be about this time? Peace with Titanica? The death of a respected admiral? The results of the Marineville badminton tournament?

Nope, none of those things. Apparently El Hudat’s brother is a terrible political force with less staying power than a British prime minister in 2022. There has been a counter-revolution in Hudatvia and El Hudat is back in power. Somewhat prematurely, the flag of Hudatvia is raised once again.

For some reason, Hudat is now insistent on signing up for membership of the World Security Patrol. I don’t think he can remember what he actually wanted it for in the first place, but he signs on the dotted line. The page that is signed by the live action hand double is in fact taken straight from the Stingray Specification for Scriptwriters, Art Department, Special Effects & Film Directors.

Commander Shore’s delight is to be feared.

Just before El Hudat is able to sack the entire staff with the new power he almost certainly doesn’t have, Shore uses a classic bit of small print to take the wind out of his sails. As a new member of the World Security Patrol, Hudat must abide by all of their laws, which means his attempts to blow up Stingray must immediately be met with a five year prison sentence. Not sure whether that sentence also includes kidnapping a WASP crew member but let’s hope that it does, otherwise Marina deserves some justice too. Needless to say, El Hudat isn’t too pleased.

The Marineville Jail is looking considerably more medieval than it did the last time it appeared in Marineville Traitor. It seems that Abu, knowingly or otherwise, is going to make El Hudat’s life a nightmare by constantly using knowledge and logic to point out that El Hudat is the reason they’re in prison, and he likely won’t be President anymore by the time he gets out.

Because it’s the only way to end these things, El Hudat stands at the bars and begs for release. Don’t worry, we’ll be seeing him again soon…

Whether you like this episode or not really depends on one factor – whether you find El Hudat entertaining or not. I can see that he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me I think they just about make the right balance between him being a silly pantomime villain, and being a credible threat. He does have a powerful boat built for war, and he does use it to blow things up without too much thought. He is crazy enough to think he can get away with murder and when he fails to do so it is incredibly satisfying. Some themes from this episode do draw upon negative racial stereotypes – and now more than ever I think you could have replaced Hudat with an egotistical Western leader and gotten the same results. The impact would have been more horrifying, and in the 1960s probably would have been considered much more disrespectful. Still, it’s an interesting thought. Because El Hudat dominates so much of this episode, everyone else is reduced to minor roles. Phones and Atlanta hardly have any dialogue, while Troy nipping aboard the Wadi at the end to turn the ship around might be considered a bit of an anti-climax. Frankly, I don’t think the episode could have gone any other way though. El Hudat is just too big of a presence to share his screen time with too many other elements. Of course, later on in the series, he’ll have to do just that. But we have many more adventures to enjoy until we get there.

Next week, the trusty and reliable Phones is left fighting for his career when Titan and X20 hatch a plan to weaken Stingray’s effectiveness. How will Troy prove his friend’s loyalty and credibility? And what else does X20 have up his sleeve? Find out in An Echo of Danger

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Further Reading by Century 21 Films Ltd.

Filmed In Supermarionation by Stephen La Rivière. Third edition published in 2022 by Century 21 Films Ltd.

Stingray: Adventures In Videcolor by Andrew Pixley. First published in 2022 by Network Distributing.

2 thoughts on “Stingray – 24. Star of the East

  1. Not one of my absolute faves, but it does have a strong plot, good sets, great dialogue, great model work and some great effects. I love also how El Hudat is presented to the audience and his complete arrogance toward even his own servant, in the end I think he just dug himself into a big hole! Commander Shore seems to be rubbing Hudat’s nose right in it by the end as well.


  2. Back in 2001, when Stingray was being repeated on BBC2, this episode was postponed for a while due to issues surrounding 9/11. The Beeb must have felt El Hudat was similar to Osama bin Laden or something. This was at the same time episodes of Captain Scarlet were being cancelled and rejigged about, resulting in a haphazard order.


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