1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 4 (UK)
64 x 120 minute episodes
This inept and dire summertime effort from the BBC revolved around an old codger called Prince Mercator (whose giant eyebrows made Denis Healey look decidedly well-groomed), an alien who had been banished to Parallel 9, a white hole suspended in time and space.
Mercator (Roddy Maude-Roxby) had been placed in a sleep-like trance for all except two hours each Saturday morning when he would awake and transport the wildest, weirdest, funniest and best from the planet Earth to provide him with knowledge that may help him escape from his prison.
He questioned them in language approaching pseudo gibberish and stored the knowledge he collected – about fashion, music, comics, cartoons and pastimes such as surfing – in a giant crystal, called The Tope (voiced by Steve Hope Wynne).
His fellow prisoners in Parallel 9 included an annoyingly overly-talkative Earth girl called Cal – short for “Calendular” (Helen Atkins) – and a trio of aliens called Steyl (Jenny Bolt) – pronounced “steel”, Skyn (Kevin Short) and Thynkso (Dominic McHale).
Although an innovative concept, the live show was slow-moving, poorly acted and ill-executed.
When the show returned in 1993 for a second series, Mercator was now referred to as a Zarbian commander rather than “Prince” and was played by Christopher Wild. He was also now joined by Earth-based co-presenter Richard Norton, Dr Kovan (Karl Collins) and a puppet called Brian the Dinosaur (David Claridge) and the space prison concept had morphed into a more traditional Saturday morning kids show containing cartoons (including The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry), competitions and music.
By 1994, Mercator was played by Richard Waites but chirpy Lucinda Cowden and Paul Hendy were running things from their caravan down on Earth.
Guests included East 17, Kim Wilde, Erasure, Take That, Shakespears Sister, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Right Said Fred, Boy George, Jason Donovan, Alice Cooper, Tony Blackburn, Neneh Cherry, Frank Bruno, Natalie Imbruglia, Dannii Minogue and Little & Large
Steve Hope Wynne
Brian the Dinosaur