It’s really quite simple: This is Moonbase – These are the folk who are supposed to stop the UFO’s entering the Earth’s atmosphere in the first place
This is SID – or the Space Intruder Detector.
SID is responsible for spotting the UFO’s and alerting SHADO (which it does in a very nice upper-class English accent).
The usual response is “All Interceptors, Immediate launch!”
The Interceptor pilots then quickly jump through a hole in the wall in the Moonbase Leisure Sphere and slide down to their spacecraft and try to destroy the UFO’s before they can reach the Earth.
The pilots wear nifty sheepskin lined flying jackets and really tight slacks (which are pretty 60’s looking for 1980 when you stop and think about it!)
These are the Interceptors. They are supposed to destroy the UFO before it reaches the Earth.
Pity there’s only three of them and they only have one missile each though!
It always puzzled me too that the blast from the missile being launched didn’t blow the windscreen out of the Interceptor and kill the pilot.
The squadron of three Interceptors never seemed very successful. Still, if they had been effective and never allowed the UFO to reach Earth the episodes would have been very short!
If the Interceptors can’t stop the UFO, it’s all down to a submarine called Skydiver. If any UFO’s make it past the Interceptors and actually enter the Earth’s atmosphere, these guys are called in to deal with it.
The front part of Skydiver takes off and becomes a plane (and is then known as Sky One) and it has a second bash at the UFO . . .
The crew of Skydiver wear string vests (even the women).
If I ever had to join SHADO, I would definitely put Skydiver down as my first choice for assignment. Imagine being trapped inside a tiny green submarine with a load of women in string vests where every day could be your last . . .
But where were we?
Oh yes, Sky One (pictured) is up there giving the UFO what for and we’re down here ogling the female submarine operatives inside Skydiver.
So what happens if Sky One doesn’t succeed in bollocking the UFO at this point?
Glad you asked . . .
In the event that Sky One fails and the UFO actually does make it to Earth (which seemed to happen in just about every episode as I recall) the SHADO ground forces are called in.
Here we see a UFO crashing somewhere in England (which is very fortunate since that is where SHADO is based!)
The ground forces are always parked in a wood not far from where the UFO lands or crashes, (This is either brilliant planning or extremely good luck) and are our last hope to save the world as we know it from the green-faced dishwashing liquid-breathing blokes in red spacesuits.
They have a very sexy line in tracked vehicles called Mobiles. If these guys fail, you may as well stand and chuck rocks at the flying saucer because you’re on your own. Luckily it never got to this stage.
I used to have a Corgi SHADO Mobile that fired matchsticks. Luckily the ones in the show had a more deadly armoury!
And there it is. Sorted!
By now you should have a dead UFO bloke and a destroyed UFO spaceship.
Now you have to get out the amnesia drugs and visit all the local farmers who may have seen something!
SHADO’s ground, sea, air and space vehicles were brilliant. The cast were fascinating (particularly Ed Straker) and there were many gorgeous female members of SHADO to keep a 10-year-old transfixed.
Undoubtedly, viewers and producers alike would have been disappointed when the real 1980 arrived. Far from being a land of gull-wing doored cars, flash hover jets and space travel, the year was actually better known for raincoat-wearing post-punk miserablists and people driving around in battered Cortinas.