Chris Boucher, the creator and writer of Star Cops talks about the show.
Can you tell us about how Star Cops came about?
Basically it was just a freelancer's attempt to make a few quid. I devised it as a proposal (or pitch as the advertising industry has now taught us to say) for radio. I confess to being slightly obsessed by and addicted to television but for the first ten years of my life we only had the wireless and I still love that too. It is the most perfect medium if you prefer your drama dialogue-driven. Apart from anything else you can rely on actors more if they read the stuff rather than having to learn it and then walk and talk at the same time.
Anyway I had done some radio work and on the back of that I pitched Star Cops to them only to be told that James Follett's Earthsearch had used up the available SF slots. And yes, I do realise that was probably just a polite way of saying they thought my idea was crap. So I adapted the spurned and rejected proposal, pitched it at the better paying medium and got lucky. Though on reflection lucky might not be the most appropriate word…
What inspired you?
My idea was that in completely new environments it should be possible to come up with completely new crime stories or, more cunningly, it should be possible to rework old crime stories and make them look new. I still feel it's a good notion. If you think about it, reworking standard crime stories is all the current crop of CSIs and Waking the Deads and whatnots are actually about.
What hurdles did you face in getting a space series without aliens commissioned by the BBC?
None that I was aware of at the time. In the event a terrible piece of alien be-costumed rubbish called Space Precinct stole whatever thunder we might have had. This tended to disabuse me of the idea that as an audience we might all have moved on from the time when we expressed our collective disappointment over the very decent and very alien-free Moonbase.
Of course there is another way to look at it. Space Precinct wasn't made in-house by its broadcaster (so it seemed cheaper to air); it wasn't made for grown-ups (so it could be scheduled any old time); and it got better figures than Star Cops (there's no answer to that, Ern).
Did you base Nathan Spring on anyone in particular?
No. I sometimes used to name characters after my sons and I think it was the turn of Nathan, my youngest. But apart from the name: no.
Were you pleased with David Calder's interpretation of the character?
My original intention was that Spring was younger and that Devis was older than they were cast. But David Calder is a class act and his performance, like every performance of his that I've ever seen, was immaculate. And Trevor Cooper, as always, was a joy.
Since I've never underestimated how hard good acting is under the best of circumstances, and series TV is not the best of circumstances, I can only be grateful for excellence.
Was there a conscious decision to make Star Cops distinct from your work
on Doctor Who and Blake's 7?
It wasn't a conscious decision. It was a different sort of idea that's all. Basically it was just a freelancer's attempt to make a few quid.
Did you originally hope to write all of the episodes? Were you pleased
with the scripts the other two writers produced?
Yes and yes. But I would have been more pleased if I had written them all myself.
What would you have changed if it had gone to a second series?
The size of my overdraft I imagine.
Have you enjoyed revisiting the series for the DVD release?
Ask me again when, and if, any payments come through.
Do you think it stands up well?
Actually I think it does. I think it probably stands up better than I have. It's a good story-telling set-up and there are some good stories. The thing had legs and it should have done better. I must have been my fault but I still don't know where I went wrong. Perhaps I should pitch it to the wireless again, you never know your luck.