Harper’s Bazaar: Star Cops

Graeme HarperThis week, I’m going to be unveiling a few new features for the blog that will focus on its pantheon of the great and the good – and on Friday, I’ll be announcing its latest admission.

We already have Sitting Tennant and Today’s Joanna Page, both of which will be appearing as per usual this week, but the first of the new features will be looking at the work of acclaimed director Graeme Harper.

But what tedious pun can I work into its title? Hmm. Well, since Graeme Harper has done such a lot and since I’m going to be showing plenty of clips to demonstrate his skills, I thought I’d call it “Harper’s Bazaar”.

Now I’ve already written quite a bit on why he’s so good, so I won’t bother gassing on for ages like I normally do. Instead, I’m just going to thrill you with some classic Harper today.

The following two clips are from the 1980s sci-fi drama Star Cops. Star Cops tried to be different. There were no aliens, no time travel, no portals to other universes. It simply said “Based on what we know now, what will life be like 40 years now when the first crimes start to be committed in outer space? How will they be investigated? Who will investigate them? And what crimes will they be?”

This was adult, thoughtful science fiction. Unfortunately, it was made by the BBC.

During the 80s, the direction of TV programmes on the Beeb was looking a bit poor in comparison to movies. Back in the 60s and 70s, the budget and technology simply wasn’t there to allow much mobility of camera work, decent composition and more, so most shows looked like they’d been shot for the theatre, except if the budget was high enough for outside film work. That, of course, was the rule: film for outside, video for inside. And if it was video, you cranked up the lighting to 11.

But in the 80s, the excuses began to run out. The Beeb realised that and began a training scheme for potential directors. Harper was one of its first graduates.

So after several episodes of shiny, well lit traditional-looking BBC sci-fi, along came Graeme Harper and changed the look of Star Cops completely. Here he gets very filmic and cranks the lighting down to zero.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s Star Cops: In Warm Blood.

This little clip explains more about the Harper way of directing Star Cops.