Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Trek on the BBC: 1995 to 1998


The trend had been for Star Trek to spend longer and longer off air between blocks of repeats. From 1969 to 1976 the series ran annually before taking a break in 1977 and returning again from 1978 to 1981. A three year gap was then followed by another run of repeats from 1984 to 1986. Star Trek was then off the air for six years before returning as a substitute for Star Trek: The Next Generation between 1992 and 1994. Surprisingly in 1995 the series bucked this trend by returning within 18 months although the series was no longer in the 6pm weekday slot. It was dropped onto Sunday morning at 11.40; a time when the majority of viewers are presumed to be recovering from a hangover in front of the telly. Star Trek spent the rest of 1995 playing out in front of an audience too fragile to cope with the rigours of watching Countryfile on BBC1. At the end of the year The Conscience Of The King displaces The Menagerie Part I, presumably to stop the story being split around the new year break. This means that by 1995 the BBC has repeated Star Trek seven times but only the 1992 to 1994 repeats were completely in NBC order. 


Star Trek stayed in the Sunday morning bacon sandwich and coffee slot until 21 April. It was replaced by a series called Fully Booked which sounds far too bright, active, and loud for that time of day.

In August BBC2 marked Star Trek's 30th anniversary with a repeat of The Cage and The Man Trap and a night devoted to Star Trek on Bank Holiday Monday; 26 August [1]. This themed evening was a mixture of comedy, documentary, and quiz programmes. The night also promoted BBC2's purchase of Star Trek: Voyager. The Caretaker would be shown as part of the theme night and the series began at the end of September. In fact the end of 1996 was a good time to be a Star Trek fan with repeats of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Wednesday, series two of Deep Space Nine on Thursday, and Voyager series one on Sunday. All that was missing was the series which started it all. 


If the end of 1996 had been a good time to be a Star Trek fan then the start of 1997 must have been paradise. The Next Generation on Wednesday at 6pm, Deep Space Nine at the same time on Thursday, Star Trek on Friday (in the 6pm "cult tv" slot previously occupied by Gerry Anderson's series UFO), Star Trek: The Animated Series on Sunday morning at 6.45am, and Voyager also on Sunday at the more sociable time of 6.45pm.

As 1997 goes on the repeat run is disrupted. Star Trek is bumped on 16 March by regular BBC1 programmes transferred to BBC2 because of Comic Relief. A couple of months later the same thing happens again in the aftermath of the General Election on 2 May. Then on 23 May it's the turn of golf and tennis.

Star Trek took a break over the summer and returned at the end of August. Two days later Diana Princess of Wales died on 31 August and the UK entered a strange week of national mourning. On Friday 5 September, the day before the funeral, in response to an increasingly ugly public mood the Queen made a speech at 6pm which was carried live on BBC1. It seems extraordinary to think that BBC2 was showing A Piece Of The Action as this unprecedented speech was being made but there is no evidence to show that the BBC2 schedule was altered.

In November there's a two week gap caused by the BBC's apparent desire to repeat some Ren And Stimpy followed by another week off due to snooker. The series returns for three weeks in December and then goes off the air over Christmas. 


The watchword for 1998 is unpredictability and the tone is set on 16 January when Star Trek is bumped for ice skating after two weeks of repeats. Spectre Of The Gun is broadcast on 23 January and then Star Trek takes another two weeks off for programmes about the forthcoming Winter Olympics. Not the actual Winter Olympics themselves but two programmes about the Winter Olympics in general. Actually this is fair enough. The 1998 Winter Olympics came from Nagano in Japan and with live broadcasts running from midnight to 4am the games needed all the publicity they could get. That said it's something of a disappointment when Star Trek returns once on 13 February and then goes off on a much needed holiday; shagged out after four whole repeats over the first seven Fridays of the year. Don't worry, the series will be back in April on Good Friday once Robot Wars has finished, plus another week for sport; tennis and more ice skating.

Amazingly the repeats then run for eight whole weeks before sport intervenes. The Mark Of Gideon is postponed on 5 June; probably due to overrunning cricket. The following week That Which Survives is also bumped; either because of overrunning tennis or possibly World Cup football. The Friday after this has already been set aside for more sport -a triple bill of cricket, Royal Ascot, and tennis- and then it's Wimbledon fortnight so its not until 10 July that Star Trek briefly elbows its way into the schedules for The Mark Of Gideon. The following week is The First Night Of The Proms, and some more golf. Quick there's a Friday without any sport or culture scheduled! That Which Survives is repeated on 24 July. 

The Lights Of Zetar, Requiem For Methuselah, and The Way To Eden all follow. There are only four episodes left. Can they make it on air? No! European Athletics and more cricket block the way. The Cloud Minders makes it through on 4 September, and then -oh no!- it's two weeks of The Commonwealth Games followed by highlights of the Scottish National Party annual conference from beautiful downtown Inverness.

Finally, the last three episodes of season three make their way on to BBC2, and Star Trek realises that its been relegated to filler status. Two years ago the programme was proudly celebrating its 30th anniversary. Now it's reduced to filling the gaps between other programmes.

In the list below the number in brackets shows the number of repeats of an episode. Most episodes are on their seventh showing; that's six repeats after the original broadcast.

1995-10-15     11.40     The Man Trap (7)
1995-10-22     11.40     Charlie X (7)
1995-10-29     11.40     Where No Man Has Gone Before (7)
1995-11-05     11.40      The Naked Time (7)
1995-11-12     11.40      The Enemy Within (7)
1995-11-19     11.40      Mudd's Women (7)
1995-11-26     11.40      What Are Little Girls Made Of? (7)
1995-12-03     11.40      Miri (3)
1995-12-10     11.40      Dagger Of The Mind (7)
1995-12-17     11.40      The Corbomite Manoeuvre (7)
1995-12-24     11.40      The Conscience Of The King (7)

1996-01-07     11:45     The Menagerie Part I (7)
1996-01-14     11:45     The Menagerie Part II (7)
1996-01-21     11:45      Balance Of Terror (7)
1996-01-28     11:45      Shore Leave (7)
1996-02-04     11:45      The Galileo Seven (8)
1996-02-11     11:45      The Squire Of Gothos (7)
1996-02-18     11:45      Arena (7)
1996-02-25     11:45      Tomorrow Is Yesterday (7)
1996-03-03     11:45      Court Martial (7)
1996-03-10     11:45      The Return Of The Archons (7)
1996-03-17     11:45      Space Seed (7)
1996-03-24     11:45      A Taste Of Armageddon (7)
1996-03-31     11:45      This Side Of Paradise (7)
1996-04-07     11:45      The Devil In The Dark (7)
1996-04-14     11:45      Errand Of Mercy (7)
1996-04-21     11:45      The Alternative Factor (7)
1996-08-19     18.25      The Cage (2)
1996-08-20     18.30      The Man Trap (8)

1997-01-24     18.00     The City On The Edge Of Forever (7)    
1997-01-31     18.00     Operation -- Annihilate! (7)  
1997-02-07     18.00     Amok Time (7)
1997-02-14     18.00     Who Mourns For Adonais? (7)
1997-02-21     18.00     The Changeling (7)
1997-02-28     18.00     Mirror, Mirror (7)
1997-03-07     18.00     The Apple (7)
1997-02-21     18.25     The Doomsday Machine (7)
1997-02-28     18.20     Catspaw (7)
1997-04-04     18.25     I, Mudd (7)
1997-04-11     18.20     Metamorphosis (7)
1997-04-18     18.20     Journey To Babel (7)
1997-05-09     18.20     Friday's Child (7)
1997-05-16     18.20     The Deadly Years (7)
1997-05-30     18.20     Obsession (7)
1997-06-06     18.25     The Wolf In The Fold (7)
1997-06-13     18.20     The Trouble With Tribbles (7)
1997-08-29     18.05     The Gamesters Of Triskelion (7)
1997-09-05     18.00     A Piece Of The Action (7)
1997-09-12     18.00     The Immunity Syndrome (7)
1997-09-19     18.00     A Private Little War (7)
1997-09-26     18.00     Return To Tomorrow (7)
1997-10-03     18.00     Patterns Of Force (7)
1997-10-10     18.00     By Any Other Name (7)
1997-10-17     18.25     The Omega Glory (7)
1997-10-24     18.20     The Ultimate Computer (7)
1997-10-31     18.25     Bread And Circuses (7)
1997-11-07     18.25     Assignment: Earth (7)
1997-12-05     18.20     Spock's Brain (7)
1997-12-12     18.20     The Enterprise Incident (7)
1997-12-19     18.20     The Paradise Syndrome (7)

1998-01-02     18.20     And The Children Shall Lead (7)
1998-01-09     18.25     Is There In Truth No Beauty (7)
1998-01-23     18.20     Spectre Of The Gun (7)
1998-02-13     18.00     Day Of The Dove (7)
1998-04-10     18.25     For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky (7)
1998-04-17     18.25     The Tholian Web (7)
1998-04-24     18.20     Plato's Stepchildren(2)
1998-05-01     18.20     Wink Of An Eye (7)
1998-05-08     18.25     The Empath (2)
1998-05-15     18.25     Elaan Of Troyius (7)
1998-05-22     18.25     Whom Gods Destroy (2)
1998-05-29     18.25     Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (7)
1998-06-05     18.25     The Mark of Gideon POSTPONED
1998-06-12     18.25     That Which Survives POSTPONED
1998-07-10     18.25     The Mark of Gideon (7)
1998-07-24     18.45     That Which Survives (7)
1998-07-31     18.45     The Lights of Zetar (7)
1998-08-07     18.50     Requiem for Methuselah (7)
1998-08-14     18.45     The Way to Eden (7)
1998-09-04     18.40     The Cloud Minders (7)
1998-10-02     18.25     The Savage Curtain (7)
1998-10-16     18.25     All Our Yesterdays (7)
1998-10-30     18.25     Turnabout Intruder (7)

[1] 7.15 Star Trek Night Introduction. Craig Charles introduces an evening of programmes to celebrate 30 years of the fantastic universe created bv Gene Roddenberry.
7.20 To Boldly Go Where No Quiz Has Gone Before. Peter Smith sets out to find the ultimate Trekker as five contestants battle it out in an intergalactic mission through the logical and illogical rounds of Trek trivia to win a night with the stars of Star Trek.
Followed by Star Trekkers Comedian and actress Josie Lawrence reveals her admiration for Captain Picard, and Labour MP Paul Boateng considers Lt Uhura as a black role model.
8.00 Science: the Final Frontier. The world of Captain Kirk portrays a fantastic future, but how plausible are warp drives, transporters and photon torpedoes? Eminent scientists such as Stephen Hawking , Roger Penrose and Lawrence Krauss , author of The Physics of Star Trek, describe how Star Trek science fiction measures up to real-life science fact. Star Trek's science adviser Andre Bormanis explains how he tries to keep one step ahead of reality, while still presenting a plausible vision of the future, and experts at the cutting edge of science describe how they are experimenting with Star Trek's vision and coming up with answers of their own.
9.00 Spoof Trek. Over the years many comedians have seen the funny side of the Star Trek universe. Alistair McGowan introduces a collection of send-ups inspired by the programme.
Followed by Star Trekkers Jonathan Ross recalls his adolescent longing for a girlfriend with blue skin, and artist Damien Hirst contemplates the Borg.
9.25 Star Trek Story. Gene Roddenberry's Utopian vision of humanity in the 24th century had a profound effect on American viewers. During the height of the Cold War, the tension of the civil rights movement and the jingoism of the Vietnam War, they saw a multicultural crew working together on the bridge of the Enterprise. Leonard Nimoy , Patrick Stewart ,
Nichelle Nicols, Brent Spiner and others reflect on Star Trek's cultural impact over its 30-year history, and contemplate its future on the small screen.
10.20 Funk Me Up Scotty. In this tribute to the stars, John Peel forages in the archives for a collection of musical performances by Star Trek cast members, as well as various records inspired by Star Trek over the years.
Followed by Star Trekkers Astronomer Patrick Moore praises the qualities of the eternally logical Mr Spock , and feminist Camille Paglia reveals why she once wrote Data a love letter
10.50 Star Trek: Voyager. The pilot episode of the latest Star Trek series, starring Kate Mulgrew Caretaker. Agroup of "freedom fighters" called the Maquis take up arms to combat a new treaty between Cardassia and the Federation. Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager has pursued a Maquis ship into the Badlands, but then both ships are catapulted 70,000 light years into an uncharted quadrant of space.
Star Trek: the Next Generation continues on Wednesday at 6.00pm
12.20am Star Trekkers Shaun Ryder and Kermit from Black Grape yearn for the fantasy world of the Holodeck.


  1. I remember Star Trek Night very well. I think they missed a trick with the title of 'Funk Me Up Scotty' when 'The Vinyl Frontier' was staring them in the face.

  2. Fully Booked was a BBC weekend morning children's magazine show. (The summer replacement shows were generally not as successful or as long lasting as the autumn to spring shows.) It seems that in 1996 for the summer break between series of Live & Kicking the BBC was experimenting with flipping the weekend children's offering so the magazine show went out on BBC2 on Sunday mornings whilst Saturday mornings were now an offering of repeats and imports they couldn't place elsewhere plus Grandstand began even earlier in an especially busy sporting season.