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Captain Zep – Space Detective

NOT MUCH cop in itself, but included here due to its possibly unique format. Each week the Captain and his two lackeys (bloke and woman in jumpsuits) landed on a planet to investigate some crime or other. This being pre-90s UK television, the budget was around £50 a show, so the planet, buildings etc. were portrayed by magic markered drawings of the same style as a Marvel comic circa 1975, halfway through being coloured in. The aliens were similarly drawn, and no matter which planet it was, invariably looked like a cross between a praying mantis and a JCB digger. Then, just before the denouement, the primitive superimposition was turned off, and the Cap’n & Co. materialised in a studio surrounded by loads of kids (aka the ‘top’ set at English if it was like the lot who went from our school) with those pink flourescent plastic “wipe-kleen” drawing pads (futuristic, don’t you know), and it turned into an audience participation thing. Who WAS the culprit? WHY was Grazarax in the munitions bay? It was up to the kids, and “you-at-home”, to work out whodunnit. Then they showed you. You’d get it wrong, of course, because the scripts cheated like mad.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Damon

    September 19, 2015 at 7:20 am

    “Captain Zep, Captain Zep, super space detective”. – I think it was one of those theme tunes that was also available “on a BBC single in shops now”.

    The logo of the show was a kind of up-ended hexigon with a black and yellow maze motif on it. It was the badge of the SOLVE academy.

    The half-drawn half live action drama would play out and occasionally freeze and we’d go back to the studio (aka the futuristic SOLVE Academy) where we’d see lots of children sitting around with their black pads that they would write on in yellow (it’s the future to write like this, see). All the kids had their hair slicked back with wet-look gel and looked pretty futuristic in their scholarly gowns as they tried to solve the mystery.

    The big thing my eyes were drawn to, however – and I’m slightly ashamed to say this – was the orange jump suit of the actress who played alongside Zep. She had an American accent and was quite striking but had a target design on each breast plate so you were really drawn to her chest.

    Did they change the actor who played Zep in the second series? Maybe there wasn’t a second series which wouldn’t surprise me much. Aired around 4:15 on Children’s BBC One.

  2. Droogie

    July 26, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    I wanted to like this show as a kid, but found the plots too complicated to follow and usually gave up halfway through. The confusing mix of actors against bad blue screen, cheap animation and the studio live Q&A thing didn’t help either. I don’t blame Paul Greenwood bailing after one series ( to be replaced by Richard “Flashman” Morant ). I also recall they made all the kids in the audience wear futuristic jumpsuits and have their hair brushed back with wet look hair gel, which qualify as some kind of abuse these days.

  3. Richardpd

    July 26, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Someone I can’t remember this at all, but I managed to find the full version of the theme tune online a few years ago.

    I’ve seen some stills showing how it was put together with Colour Separation Overlay, probably in a BBC yearbook.

    • Droogie

      July 27, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      @ RichardPd It’s a bonkers show. One can only admire the ambition of the project on such a shoestring budget . Another issue was Paul Greenwood as Captain Zep. He plays this role like he’s a tough Captain Scarlet type, but I always see him as his wet soft copper character in Rosie.

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