Comedy crew: Craig Charles
Lost in space
Channel 4 has chosen to beam down in Glasgow for the filming of its new sci-fi comedy quiz, Space Cadets. GREG PROOPS, BILL BAILEY and CRAIG CHARLES take a break from crew duties. Words: Fiona Shepherd
‘Did you see that episode of The Twilight Zone . . .‘?‘
‘Homelmtvs In Space — has anybody seen that show‘?’
‘Lost World is about five other sci-fi movies from the old days. . .‘
‘And every one had Doug McClure in it!’
‘And Hugh O‘Brien!‘
You join us. not at some Star Trek convention. but in a sumptuous hotel lounge in Glasgow. trying to get a word in edgeways as comedians Greg Proops. Craig Charles and Bill Bailey get animated about the world of sci-fi — books. films. TV shows — the very subject matter at the centre of their new comedy panel show Space Cadets. The List keeps its head down to avoid the laser fire.
Of course. Spaee Cadets isn‘t exactly going where no comedy panel show has gone before. Have I Go! News For You, The)‘ Think It's All ()l’(’l' and Never Mind The Buzzeueks have all successfully administered the not-so-secret formula where it’s not the winning but the wise-cracking and fooling about where required that counts.
However. it boasts the highest cheese factor of all these shows. The teams wear colour co-ordinated tabards. apart from William Shatner who wouldn‘t play ball (‘He didn‘t want to wear it because it showed off his belly. which is fine.‘ says Charles). and the team name is morph — on one show you’ll have the Comets v the Meteors. on another. the Morks v the Mindys. Proops oversees proceedings
Amazing Star Trek fact: Koenig isn't actually Russian! It was all an act! Next, they'll be saying Scottie wasn't really Scottish.
(left) Bill Bailey and quizmaster Greg Proops from his Dalek desk and the scores are kept by a maverick computer — Al.
Beaming down to the studio for the last night of recording, Babylon 5’s Claudia Christian is keeping the audience entertained between takes with her Cher and Billie Holliday impressions while Star Trek’s Walter ‘Chekhov’ Koenig is wandering around backstage looking lost (must be this alien environment known as ‘Glasgow’). Amazing Star Trek fact: Koenig isn’t actually Russian! It was all an act! Next. they‘ll be saying Scottie wasn’t really Scottish.
‘I keep hearing Scottie. Everyone here is Seottie.’ says William Shatner. The List time machine has travelled back a couple of weeks to the same hotel lounge where the venerable Captain James T. Kirk is fielding questions from a host of Trekkies thinly disguised as the Earthling species known as ‘journalists‘. Questions such as ‘did you get out of puff on T] Hooker?’. ‘What about those dilithium crystals‘.” and the inevitable ‘was Nichelle Nichols a good snog‘."
Shatner. with the dignity of one who actually has a church dedicated to his worship. tolerates jokes about being beamed up.
‘If I’m jet-lagged or hungry. it’s like a toothache.’ he says of being continually hounded about his Trekking days. ‘but the things I‘ve done subsequently have all been as a result of Star Trek so I can never knock it.’
His hosts on Space Cadets are fulsome in their praise of his performance on the show, despite what he calls ‘very limited‘ sci-fi knowledge. Other guests on the series. to delight both anoraks and casual observers. include Sylvester McCoy. Gareth Thomas aka Blake from Blake's 7. Terry Pratchett and that well-known sci-fi egghead Angela Rippon.
Finally. before we beam off into hyperspace. any advice from our intrepid Space Cadets?
‘Never go to a planet with Kirk and Spock if your name‘s Steve and you‘ve not been in the show before. because you‘re about to GO!’
Space Cadets starts on Channel 4, Tue 15 Jul, 6pm.
Neighbours From Hell Scottish, Mon 14 Jul, 9pm.
If you think you've got problems, spare a moment's thought for the poor sods who are victims of domestic torment in ITV's Neighbours From Hell. Recent statistics suggest that one in seven Brits would change their neighbours quicker than it takes to yell 'turn that racket down.’
Not that noise pollution is the sole mode of ruining the lives of those in your vicinity. The range spans from acts of carelessness in the community, such as 100 feet conifers blocking sunlight from homes, to perpetrators of pure evil like the residents of a Lancaster estate, who torch the property of their sole black neighbour each 5 November.
Yet as producer/director Rod Williams explains, there is no simple reason behind what appears to be a steady rise in incidents of resident rage. 'My interest was in what features of the human psyche explode and become so irrational over a couple of inches of soil, to the point where you have appalling bullying and extortion,’ he says. ‘A great deal of neighbour nuisance problems are related to the rise in juvenile crime. On the other hand, the nation's desire to enhance gardens and create privacy has increased, leading to an explosion in sales of the Cupressus Leylandii which cancels out the sun for those next door.’
Until now, proposed solutions have centred on moving the problem around - presumably in the hope that one day a family such as the notorious Grahams from Glenrothes, will land next door to someone who will put up with anything — rather than putting further strain on the prison system. Yet change may be afoot. 'The crime and disorder bill the government is bringing in has a variety of measures which they claim will give more teeth to councils and police in dealing with chronic anti- social behaviour,’ points out Williams. 'Special community safety orders will allow councils to issue injunctions against trouble-makers. It remains to be seen how effective these will be.’
Until then, just pray that your new neighbour doesn't bleach your plants or have the entire Napalm Death back catalogue which can only be played at 1000 decibals. It really could be you. (Brian Donaldson)
Neighbour trouble: even Richard Jobson has it
11—24 Jul 1997 THE ll8T65