'Star Fleet' - the Television Series Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Star Fleet' - the Television Series

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Nothing to do with Star Trek or Star Wars, Star Fleet was a children's show from the early 1980s, with a big red robot and impressive spaceships.

Star Fleet first arrived on British television in October 1982. Children had previously been brought up on Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Stingray, but Star Fleet was something else again. It was a Japanese import dubbed into English, and so the action and storyline were more reminiscent of anime. Unlike the Gerry Anderson shows, these puppets were controlled from below by rods, like muppets, and so avoided difficulties with strings.

The Plot

Over the course of 24 episodes an ongoing story arc is played out, another factor which sets the show apart from others of the time and makes it more reminiscent of modern shows like Babylon 5. There are stand alone episodes within the series, but the focus is on a search for a powerful being known as the 'F Zero One' (F-01). The series begins with the evil Imperial Alliance's impressive spaceship destroying an Earth spaceship as it enters the solar system.

In an attempt to counter this attack, Earth launches an experimental spaceship, the X Bomber. The series follows the adventures of the X Bomber and its young crew as they engage the Imperial Alliance while trying to uncover the secret of the F-01. Along the way they meet the mysterious space sailing ship The Skull which holds the key to unlocking the secret of F-01, and in the final episodes The Skull and X Bomber race back to Earth to face the Imperial Master who is on the verge of destroying the planet.

The Characters

Briefly, the X Bomber was manned by Dr Benn, Shiro Hagen, Barry Hercules, John Lee, Lamia, a robot called PPA and Lamia's furry bodyguard Kirara. Dr Benn is in charge, and, surprisingly, was killed off late on in the series. Shiro, Barry and John (also known as Fatty!) are cadets assigned to help Dr Benn. Lamia came on board from Moonbase as a communications specialist but is actually central to the plot because she is the F-01! PPA was quite an annoying character and acted as comic relief for the most part.

Up against the X Bomber crew was Commander Makara with her second in command Captain Orion. The Imperial Alliance officers were striking to look at as they were cyborgs, and had symbiotic eye patches that sometimes spoke for them, particularly when the Imperial Master appeared as a hologram. The Imperial Master was seen only briefly for most of the series, but then took matters into his own hands in the final episodes and appeared more often as he made his final assault on the Earth.

Other characters included Captain Carter, an Earth officer captured, interrogated and turned into a cyborg by the Imperial Alliance. He helps the Imperial Alliance fight the X Bomber and is finally killed in a duel to the death with Shiro Hagen having regained his humanity. Also around from time to time were Captain Halley of The Skull and Caliban, the Imperial Alliance's silver skinned inventor.

The Spaceships

Being Japanese, the show's special effects were very well done and complex for the time. The X Bomber was very detailed and could partially transform to fire more weapons. It could launch three red fighters from compartments on its hull which docked together to form the immensely powerful Dai X robot which was often crucial in defeating the Imperial Alliance.

The Imperial Alliance's ships were similarly well done. The main spaceship was much bigger than the X Bomber and could launch wasp-like carrier craft which in turn launched half a dozen fighters to engage the X Bomber. Despite the complete lack of computer effects, the battles were very believable. The Imperial Alliance also came up with a few special devices designed by Caliban. The most impressive of these was the Death Ball, a large spherical tank designed to go head to head with Dai X and piloted by Caliban himself. This did actually succeed in putting Dai X on its back, but finally the heroes used a combination of an energy shield and Dai X's 'X Tracers' to leave the Death Ball in pieces and Caliban wrapped up in bandages for the rest of the series!

The Music

Star Fleet is often remembered as 'the show with music by Brian May'. He actually covered the original closing theme music by Paul Bliss - see if you remember the lyrics:

Send a message out across the sky
Alien raiders just past Gemini
Who will come and save us now?
Who can defend us from their power?

Star Fleet, Star Fleet
Star Fleet, Star Fleet

Tell the people back at Earth Control
Send Star Fleet legions to save our souls
Always daring and courageous
Oooh, only they can save us

Star Fleet, Star Fleet
Star Fleet, Star Fleet

Although Paul Bliss was a newcomer to doing music for TV shows, his background music did add a great deal of atmosphere to the show; perhaps another reason why it has lodged itself into the recesses of so many minds!


You can find out much more about Star Fleet, also known as X Bomber and Bomber X in France, Italy and elsewhere by visiting the Star Fleet X Bomber homepage which contains more detailed information on all aspects of the series, and features pictures, sounds and video clips. The fans hope that Star Fleet will be released on DVD at some point, and are also extending the storyline and considering a computer generated remake - see Star Fleet Genesis for more information.

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