We’re going back 22 years for this month’s G&TV, a fact that will no doubt unsettle any readers who remember watching it at the time. Not to be confused with a completely unrelated Channel 4 show called Space Cadets, which involved tricking gullible young people into thinking they were going into space when in fact they were just in a big warehouse, this Space Cadets was a 1997 panel show dedicated to science-fiction, following in the wake of other single-topic shows like They Think It’s All Over and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. It was hosted by Greg Proops, with team captains Bill Bailey and Craig Charles.
It wasn’t very good. The format was pretty run of the mill – a what happened next round, then a picture round, a bit of Call My Bluff with sci-fi props and a final quickfire trivia round – with nothing particularly unique or memorable to set it apart. The shows were often shambolic, with panellists shouting over each other and Proops coming up short in keeping control, the editing slapdash and the production values failing to disguise the evidently low budget. Although I did like Greg’s Davros-inspired chair. The first episode is available in full on YouTube, complete with original in-vision continuity announcement, and one of the guests is another familiar Red Dwarf face:
It’s clear that Greg is a little starstruck by Shatner, who is a fantastic booking for such a show in all fairness, and the only panellist who was able to opt out of the cheap vaguely Star Treky uniforms. Hattie is the only woman out of seven participants, and she doesn’t get a great deal of screen time, often seen struggling to get her voice heard, for some mysterious reason. The other guests are future Still Game star Ford Kiernan and sci-fi writer Kim Newman, the only one on the panel with any degree of expertise on the subject matter. The increasingly sneery tone whenever Kim gets a question right is indicative of an attitude that permeates the show, and is one of the biggest reasons for its failure. It never truly embraced a love of science-fiction, opting for a detached semi-ironic approach that only served to distance the show from the geek audience it needed to survive.
But it was almost worth it just for this image, I suppose: