Parallel 9 (CBBC, 1992-1994)
If you thought that Ghost Train was weird, just wait until you read about this one! Parallel 9 was the first CBBC Saturday Morning show to be made by an independent production company. This review is mostly based on the first series which I remember watching the most. Here’s the plot such as it is and the characters…
The main character is Mercator, an elderly chap with big eyebrows who is an alien prince from the planet Zarb. He is found guilty of wanting to use knowledge on a planet where it is forbidden, so he is banished to a distant hole in the universe called Parallel 9. His punishment is that he will be cast adrift forever and have time taken away from him so he will only be awake and able to communicate with other people for two hours a week, Saturday 9-11am, which rather conveniently is when the show airs. His rather modest response to all this is “oh, bumbles…”
There are also three other alien-type people who are on this planet for committing crimes, and they are a very odd bunch indeed. First of all there is Steyl, a woman who is notable for having compact discs in her hair.
Finally there was Tope, a piece of flashing glass thing with a scary voice which would beam down the weekly guests who would take part on the show. Time would also go backwards as well for some reason.
There were lots of features on the show including the bizarre game show Parallel Playback, plus reviews of the latest videos and cartoons including Defenders Of The Earth. There was also a memorable competition where viewers were given the chance to meet Michael Jackson. Guests who visited Parallel 9 included Craig Charles, shown here rather excited having just seen the video for Kris Kross’s “Jump”.
I enjoyed watching the first series and was intrigued by the climax where they all hoped to return to their home planets and I assumed the show wouldn’t be coming back. However, it did, but with a different cast, with new characters including a puppet called Brian. It once again proved the rule that if the puppet is the wittiest character on your show, you’ve got problems. It eventually ran for three series.
Overall though I felt that Parallel 9 was an interestingly odd show and I liked the characters but once again it wasn’t very successful, I can’t believe that the first series was 23 years ago now.