I'm looking for a sf story that was broadcast on BBC children's TV in the early 1980's, probably as part of the long running Jackanory series. Based on what i recall of other events at the time of watching I think this was 1982.

The story is of a group of children who are either orphans or in a boarding school and who build a spaceship from the scrap of other ships and (I think) an asteroid. They launch it into space and have subsequent adventures.

One scene that particularly sticks in my mind was the oxygen failing on the ship and the children all falling asleep except for a girl who is bullied by a robot into fixing the problem.

I'm reasonably sure that the author of the stories would be British as it was an adaptation for the BBC. I also have a feeling that this was adapted from a series of children's books with each volume being compressed into one episode. It ran Monday to Friday for one week. I vaguely recall a female narrator.

The story was interspersed with still drawings and acted scenes with children. I'm looking for the title of the story (stories) in either TV or book form and the author. Note, the description of acted scenes and drawn illustrations makes this sound like Captain Zep: Space Detective, another BBC show. It was not this one although they would have been made at similar times. Hope there is enough detail here for a answer. Thank you!

  • Jackanory was usually just a person reading a story with still illustrations. Was that the format? Or were there actors and/or animation? – DJClayworth Nov 23 '15 at 4:31
  • Agreed, it usually just a lone narrator and illustrations so I do question my memory on that particular point. I definitely recall actors. It's possible that it was essentially a drama with no budget for special effects so relied on drawings instead. – skyjack Nov 23 '15 at 5:49
  • Thank you for your feedback by the way and just to be clear I don't recall any animation. Child actors in very minimal sets and drawings. – skyjack Nov 23 '15 at 5:54

This could be the Starstormers Series by Nicholas Fisk:

Published between 1980 and 1983 by Hodder, "Starstormers" consisted of five books; Starstormers, Sunburst, Catfang, Evil Eye and Volcano. Fed up of being left in a boarding school on earth while their parents colonize a new planet, a group of children decide to build their own spaceship out of obsolete equipment in order to join their parents, but in order to get there they will first have to deal with the mysterious Octopus Emperor.

There's no mention of it being dramatised on the author's page, but the Wikipedia page for Jackanory notes (in the section about the show's revival):

The original series had occasionally included dramatised material, in e.g. 1984's Starstormers by Nicholas Fisk, and increasingly so towards the end of its run in the mid-1990s.


I saw this little nicklas fisk story on bbc1, The Blake's Seven grey Scorpio bucket seats were used in the space ship set in starstomers, in that they stood out a mile lol I saw this in late 82, it was interesting for a jackanory story, as there were live sequences and some stills, shown 3 months before Captain Zep in jan 83 (whom also used the scorpio seats recovered in red and black material these things were easy to spot in those days as anything as modern as that back then stood out and you knew it was from b 7 lol). This adaption fired up the imagination too. Load of old tosh, but nice to see it When I was young At that time, it was on for a week in october 82 all 15 minute eps, I was young and loved bbvc sci fi then, it didn't matter what it was, I just wanted garish colour cso and silly dialogue lol.

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    Is this an answer to the question? That is, do you think this is the story that the question is looking for? Or are you trying to respond to Mark Bannister’s answer? – Adamant Sep 27 '16 at 4:27

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