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INSIDERS ACCESS: Gerry Anderson on the BBC (Part 2) – 1995 to 1997

Editor's Note: For part one, see the article on!

by Chris Dale


Continuing with weekday morning broadcasts, Joe 90 concluded its first run on BBC 1 with The Birthday on January 4th, with the only notable anomaly being Viva Cordova’s broadcast on BBC 2 on January 1st - as for some reason the entire BBC 1 early morning children’s schedule had been moved to BBC 2 to allow broadcast of the 1955 Gene Kelly musical comedy It’s Always Fair Weather on BBC 1 at 7.35am.

The BBC 2 weekday morning Thunderbirds repeat run that had started in the week leading up to Christmas 1994 resumed on Tuesday January 3rd at 8.15am with The Uninvited. Following The Mighty Atom on the 4th and Vault of Death on the 5th, the run ended at Operation Crash-Dive on January 7th with only nine of the show's thirty-two episodes having aired.

Captain Scarlet concluded its second run on BBC 2 on April 28th with the very same episode it had opened with the previous September – The Inquisition! Having paid for the right to broadcast the entire series twice it only made commercial sense to show the episode rather than waste that money, although it did mean that on the BBC’s second run of Captain Scarlet they ended up showing thirty-three episodes of a thirty-two episode series! As we’ve already seen (and will see again), this attention to detail regarding getting every episode of a particular series shown was the exception rather than the norm.

Stingray was back on daily patrol on BBC 2 in mid-1995, for a run of early afternoon repeats beginning on Monday August 3rd with Sea of Oil. The show was then moved after three weeks to a mid-morning timeslot (beginning with the episode Stand by for Action on August 29th) following CBBC programmes for one week only before disappearing until October, then moving once again to 7.45am for another week to air as part of CBBC and then disappearing from the schedule altogether after Friday October 13th. This run appears to have only included twenty-three of the show’s thirty-nine episodes, and the missing episodes do not seem to have been scheduled at all.

For anyone missing Thunderbirds in Hindi, the ten-part The Perils of Penelope redub was repeated again from September 19th through to November 28th. Thunderbirds in French also returned on September 29th, running until November 24th.

From September 18th, BBC 2 was showing a brand-new live action Gerry Anderson series; Space Precinct launched on Mondays at 6pm with the episode Protect and Survive, and aired every Monday until the episode Friends, which was moved to 5.30pm on Sunday December 24th in order to avoid a Christmas Day broadcast.

Joe 90 would also briefly return at the end of the year for daily repeats when The Most Special Agent aired on BBC 1 at 8.10am on Wednesday December 27th – but the series disappeared from the schedules again after just four episodes!


Space Precinct returned to Monday nights at 6pm from January 8thwith Flash, the first of the show’s nine remaining episodes. Why was the fourth episode produced airing so late in the run? The BBC was tackling a problem that had previously faced broadcasters of UFO and Space:1999 back in the 1970s; the Anderson name was associated with children’s and family shows, and yet his live action series featured adult content unsuitable for the same kind of timeslot that Thunderbirds and the other Supermarionation shows had occupied. Each episode of Space Precinct was therefore being heavily edited by the BBC for violence and other content not suitable for a 6pm broadcast slot, with some troublesome episodes being pushed back later into the run to give them more time to be 'fixed'. However, one scene in the episode Illegal, in which Haldane and Castle disrupted the power supply at Coe Barner’s club by the easily imitable (and highly dangerous) act of ramming a metal coat hanger into a fuse box, proved completely unfixable in editing. Rather than have the BBC refuse to show the episode entirely, the decision was taken to reshoot the scene several months after production had wrapped on Illegal (during the filming of The Forever Beetle,to be precise) and rework it so that Haldane and Castle needed to only open the box to cut the power. This would explain why a story produced as episode eleven aired on the BBC as episode twenty-two - and why Haldane's hairstyle suddenly changed mid-story! Space Precinct’s first run on BBC 2 ended with Deathwatch Conclusion on March 4th.

Stingray returned to BBC 2 on February 5th 1996, for daily weekday episodes starting at 7.30am as part of the CBBC programming block. Although this was the show’s third run on the channel, this was the first time the BBC successfully managed to show all thirty-nine episodes of the series in the same consistent timeslot with no breaks in the run.

Later in the year, an older live-action Anderson series would begin airing in the Monday night 6pm slot previously occupied by Space Precinct. UFO premiered on BBC 2 on September 16th, and would continue most Monday nights (largely in the ITC Recommended broadcast order) until the series moved to Friday evenings at 6.25pm starting with The Square Triangle on December 6th, with the series taking a Christmas break after Close Up on December 20th.

But the big question; would Thunderbirds in French and Thunderbirds in Hindi be shown this year? Of course! Thunderbirds in French returned for one last outing starting on January 8th and airing until March 19th, while September 18th saw the fourth and final run of the Hindi redub commence, running until November 27th.

Meanwhile, Joe 90 had staggered back onto BBC 2 at 7.30am on Sunday mornings from October 6th to resume the run that had been seemingly abandoned after four episodes back in December 1995. Still airing as part of CBBC, the show was also subject to that programming block’s occasional moves back to BBC 1 over the festive period, including for a 6am broadcast of The Unorthodox Shepherd on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Space Precinct had also returned to BBC 2 for a second Monday night 6pm run from December 2nd 1996, once again starting with Protect and Survive.


Space Precinct’s second and final BBC 2 run continued into 1997, now following a slightly different broadcast order than the channel’s first screening, but once again ending with Deathwatch Conclusion on June 9th 1997.

UFO however hadn’t made it very far into 1997 at all. Although Kill Straker! appeared in several TV listings magazines for January 24th the Friday night run would be halted after the episode E.S.P. was broadcast on Friday January 10th. The show was replaced from Friday January 24th with the original Star Trek, which was itself resuming a repeat run that had begun on Sundays back in October 1995 but had seemingly been abandoned after the episode The Alternative Factor in April 1996.

Joe 90’s chaotic time on the BBC came to a final end on January 26th 1997 with the broadcast of Viva Cordova, leaving four episodes unrepeated. As with Stingray’s second run and the two aborted Thunderbirds runs, the BBC would not reschedule these remaining episodes at a later date.