“Introducing Paul Starr – Space Agent!”
Paul Starr is a space agent working for the SBI. That’s the Space Bureau of
Investigation, to you and I. When ever there is danger, Starr blasts off from
underwater headquarters in his spaceship SBI-5, to take on the threat,
thwart the invader, and defend the Earth!
This exciting, interstellar production was created and written by Roberta Leigh,
who was at the time flushed with the success of her “Space Patrol” series.
“Paul Starr” was another step up the sci-fi ladder for her, and her co-producer
on the show, Arthur Provis. They had a bigger budget and colour presentation,
to boot. In this pilot story, the head of the SBI is visited by the alien leader
of Mars. Five of his atomic plants on the red planet have been destroyed.
Our martian man believes that his rival, General Darinx is looking to take
control of the planet. So Starr and his crewman, Lightning, blast off for
action from Solar Cell 5…
“Where ever there’s danger, you’ll find the men
of the Space Bureau of Investigation!”
With its roaring rockets, aquatic-looking aliens, whirring robots, interplanetry
action and explosions, all the ingredients for TV success were present and
correct. But alas, “Paul Starr” never received a series commission. You see,
there was a sizable supermarionated elephant lurking around the production,
in the form of Gerry Anderson and AP Films. Their team had already
conquered the TV schedules with Fireball XL5 and Stingray, and those
Thunderbirds were blasting off for action at the same time as Roberta
Leigh’s new pilot.
It’s easy to speculate that, if those Anderson series weren’t omni-present
“Paul Starr” would have been picked up, and soared. Oh, but then it
probably wouldn’t have been made in the first place, because, there’s no
escaping the fact that this was hugely derivative of those shows. There’s
“Stingray” all over that underwater base, and “Thunderbirds” in the protracted
launch sequence. The robots have stolen Robert the Robot’s electronic vocals
too, and we’ve got a slick singing star (Jerry Dane) crooning over the end
credits. Heck, there’s even a rumbling bongo beat introducing the thing!
“Paul Starr” is still very watchable. The show featured fab new, rubber-faced
puppets, and that bigger budget is all up there, on the screen, for all to see.
But AP got there first, and because of that, our space pilot never took off…
Alas, this series pilot was never broadcast in the UK…