Stingray – 30. Set Sail For Adventure

“I’ve just been looking at the accounts,” Gerry announced with a sullen look on his face. A mood of gloom and apprehension struck the writers room. “Bob Bell spent far too much money on that galleon set for The Ghost Ship a few months back.” Alan Fennell avoided eye contact with Mr Anderson, feeling ever so slightly guilty for writing such an extravagant set into his script for only a single installment. “So, who has ideas for a cheap script for the next episode to make up the difference?”

Stingray – 29. Titan Goes Pop

We begin with a mystery! An original script for Titan Goes Pop is known to survive and it credits Dennis Spooner as the episode’s author, contradicting the on-screen credit which suggests Alan Fennell was the writer. It’s not unheard of for the on-screen credits on Anderson shows to be inaccurate, but I suppose it’s also plausible that Spooner’s name was printed on the script in error. My gut feeling is that this is a Dennis Spooner tale, as it’s laced with his trademark satire and humour. But this mistake in the on-screen credits begs the question – were there other Stingray scripts erroneously credited to the wrong writer? Come to that, I’m almost certain that there were scripts for which the primary authorship is unclear – I can sense the hands of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson in their capacity as script supervisors getting stuck in to some episodes more than others. Of course, this is all speculation because there aren’t many Stingray scripts that are known to still exist… unless someone awfully naughty out there has all that documentation stacked in the back of their wardrobe along with the mythical three hour director’s cut of Trapped In the Sky… you didn’t hear that from me…

Stingray – 28. In Search of the Tajmanon

I wouldn’t call myself a particularly scholarly author. I’m more suited to sniggering when a puppet goes cross-eyed or pointing out when a prop gets reused for the eight-billionth time. But, this week, in addition to my usual nonsense, I am going to put some modest effort into contextualising the decolonisation of Africa and its impacts on popular culture in the 1960s, because I think In Search of the Tajmanon provides some fascinating insights on the subject. I’m not an expert, but it goes without saying that the world was watching when 17 African nations gained their independence from European power in the year 1960, with many others following suit across the decade. The news in the mid-20th Century would have been chock full of Africa’s progress towards liberation from imperialist power. So, it’s not surpsing that western media reacted in a couple of different ways. They might have romanticised or gently glossed over imperialism (1951’s The African Queen, for example), or go the other way and start to celebrate African culture and heritage which was coming to prominence for the first time. It’s also worth noting that the epic British war film, Zulu, premiered in January 1964, depicting the Battle of Rorke’s Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in 1879. Around the same time, in early 1964, In Search of the Tajmanon was set to go before the cameras at the AP Films studio in Slough.

Stingray – 27. Deep Heat

Location, location, location – that’s the golden rule of real estate isn’t it? So who the heck thought it was a good idea to build a city underneath a volcano? Deep Heat is a real back-to-basics kind of Stingray episode. It’s got subterranean aliens. It’s got an unusual location. It’s got Troy, Phones, and Marina facing grave danger while Commander Shore and Atlanta sit at home and worry about them. Everything you might expect from a classic Stingray episode. So without any delay, lets get comfortable, tune in and bring on that lava!

Stingray – 26. Invisible Enemy

For a series often praised for its warmth and humour, Stingray also does spooky and unsettling very well. Stories like The Ghost Ship and The Ghost of the Sea aren’t afraid to ditch the cosy and colourful family atmosphere for a short while and take on a more mysterious and eerie feeling. Invisible Enemy cranks that all up to eleven and isn’t afraid to alienate the audience with an entirely new type of threat. The villain this week isn’t another shiny-faced green bloke from under the sea – but an ordinary man badly in need of a shave and a new watch. Yet he proves to be quite a match for the gang at Marineville…