Space Vets (CBBC, 1992-1994)
This is a rather bizarre science-fiction sitcom that was shown on CBBC in the early-90s. Space Vets centred around the adventures of a spaceship called the Dispensable, which contained the Intergalactic Animal Health Service, whose aim was to help all types of ill alien animals wherever they were in the universe. It really did happen. And there was a rather memorable cast on this show.
The main cast were Captain Pubble (who was about 12 years old), although he was later replaced by Captain Skip Chip (Mark “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label” Arden). There was also Mona the receptionist (Ann “Philadelphia” Bryson, who went on to star in flop 90s ITV sitcoms Sometime, Never and Days Like These), who was rather fond of chocolate, and the dreadlocked second-in-command was called Number Two (how funny!).
Oh yes, and there was also a hat-wearing puppet dog with an American accent called Dogsbody. Each episode was 15 minutes long and there were a lot of odd moments, along with a lot of creative puppetry and costume design, which was all the more impressive considering that the show’s budget was probably about three shillings. “Will the Dispensable escape the Great Black Hole of Nauphragia?” was a typical description of what happened in an episode. Who needs Red Dwarf when you’ve got this.
Space Vets eventually ran for three series and 39 episodes on Tuesday afternoons, but that wasn’t the end of it. In 1997, Dogsbody (still voiced by the same actor) had beamed back down to Earth and turned up in a totally different CBBC show called Cartoon Critters, to introduce a collection of mouldy old cartoons that featured animals, assisted by a female dog puppet called Fleur.
I’m fairly sure that Space Vets wasn’t featured as part of the CBBC On Choice strand. However, it was repeated in the early days of the CBBC Channel in 2002, and it was also repeated on BBC2 as late as 2005, over a decade after the series ended. Five series two episodes were released on VHS, but there has been no DVD release, I feel that it deserves one as this was an enjoyably odd show.