There were some great TV shows in the 1980’s, and then there were some not so great ones too. Â Sadly falling into the latter category is the BBC show Captain Zep – Super Space Detective which ran for two series from 1983 to 1984. Â Actually, it may just have been called Captain Zep, but the theme music called him by this title so that’s what I’m going with.
Being a bit of a sucker for anything set in space when I was a kid (and to be honest, I’m probably still a sucker for such fare today) it’s surprising I don’t remember Captain Zep more fondly. Â I certainly remember watching it, but only because there was nothing better on the other side (i.e. Children’s ITV).
The idea behind the show was the titular Captain Zep and his cronies Jason Brown and Professors Spiro or Vana (depending on which series you were watching) zipped about the galaxy solving crimes. Â It wasn’t quite as passive as that though, as the programme was also part game show. Â The adventures of Zep and company were actually being used as training aids for young space detective recruits, in other words a studio audience who had all been forced to slick back their hair and don ridiculous jump suits.
You watched the adventure picking up clues along the way with which to determine who the crook of the piece was. Â At least, that was the idea. Â Personally when it came to the reveal I sat there confused as they explained what strange piece of evidence had incriminated the Verocious Spratblatter Beast for nicking fuel cells from the Imperial Galactic Alliance Fleet. Â OK, I’m making up the names here, but hopefully you see what I mean.
I think the reason why I could never work out the crime was because I was too busy laughing at the slick haired kids and the strangely drawn aliens. Â Yes, that’s right, drawn. Â Zep, Brown and the Profs were human actors chromakeyed onto a variety of alien landscapes with cardboard looking aliens superimposed over the top. Â I’m pretty sure the aliens were not animated in any way, so it was quite amusing to watch these people talking to aliens that responded with out moving their lips, assuming of course that they had lips. Â Strangely enough the BBC were quite proud of these special effects for some reason…
As well as the main puzzle there was also a viewer competition where you had to solve a secondary mystery from watching the show. Â If you sent in the correct answer you could win a Captain Zep Space Detective Badge (woooh!). Â Needless to say I do not own a Captain Zep Space Detective Badge.
However, there was one cool thing about the show, and that was the theme music which sticks in my mind to this day. Â The YouTube clip below features this theme song, but sadly the visuals are just from Windows Media Player by the looks of it.