Series 1 title card
|Created by||Jill Roach|
|Starring||Roddy Maude-Roxby (Series 1)
Richard Waites (Series 3)
Lucinda Cowden (Series 2-3)
Paul Hendy (Series 3)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||64|
|Camera setup||Multiple-camera setup|
|Running time||120 minutes|
|Original channel||BBC 1|
|Original run||25 April 1992 – 17 September 1994|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2010)|
Parallel 9 (commonly known as 'P9') was a British children's television entertainment show that broadcast from 1992 to 1994. A total of three series - one in each year - was produced, and each series ran for up to twenty-two weeks (in all a total of 64 episodes were produced across the three years; series 1 ran for 20 weeks, with the remaining two weeks being taken by Olympic Games coverage.)
P9 aired on BBC1 on Saturday mornings during the summer months, occupying the schedule slot that was at other times of the year held by programmes such as Going Live!; the first series of P9 aired in the summer break between the penultimate and final series of Going Live, the second series of P9 (summer 1993) aired between the close of the final series of Going Live and the launch of Live & Kicking, and the final run of P9 aired over summer 1994, between the first and second series of L&K. At the time, the pattern of the BBC's Saturday morning broadcasts was that Going Live/L&K would run for approximately 30 weeks of the year - from the Autumn of one year to the Spring of the next - with the remaining 20 or so weeks taken by a 'summer replacement' show such as P9.
P9 was the first BBC Saturday morning children's show to be produced by an independent production company - in this case Roach & Partners - rather than the BBC's in-house children's production unit. The programme was produced at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
The show is also notable for the large number of changes in cast and situation that it undertook during its run despite retaining the same P9 branding throughout.
Series 1 of Parallel 9 began on 25 April 1992.
The premise of the show focused on Mercator, an old alien prince with very long eyebrows (played by Roddy Maude-Roxby) who had been banished to Parallel 9 as a result of his thirst for knowledge - a criminal offence on his home planet 'Zarb'.
As part of his punishment, he was allowed to awake for only 2 hours a week; from 9am to 11am on "the day the Earthlings call Saturday", and had the ability to 'beam up' guests from Earth to Parallel 9 to take part in interviews and features.
Amongst the other characters that made regular appearances in the first series were Calendular – an earth girl who had become a permanent resident on Parallel 9 – and three other criminals who had been banished from their home planet: Steyl, Skyn and Thynkso. The latter three spent their time plotting ways to escape Parallel 9.
Parallel 9 in its original form was poorly received, and so extensive changes were made. Most of the first series' characters were dropped, and the setting changed from a prison dimension to a space station.
The new show was more vibrant than its predecessor, with jauntier opening titles, a brighter set and a new lead character; though this character retained the name Mercator, the character changed to a younger, more manic man with spiky hair, played by Christopher Wild. New characters including Zee, Dr. Kovan, and Brian the Dinosaur were introduced, replacing the supporting characters from the previous run.
The only connections between this show and the previous run were the P9 name, the Mercator name, and the Tope, the clear cubicle which formed a central part of the programme's set, played by Stephen Hope Wynne (who played other numerous characters in all the seasons), and which in this series switched from being a dimensional prison to become the space station's power source.
During this series, a 'base station' (static caravan) was used to provide a 'link' by which guests could be 'transported' from Earth to P9: the Earth-based presenter was Lucinda Cowden. Cowden's role was to introduce items and guests from the "Earth base", and send guests through a curtain in the caravan for "transportation" to the P9 station.
This series continued in much the same form as the more successful second series, though there were some further changes.
Mercator was recast again, and was this time a buttoned-down commander type, played by Richard Waites of ITV's Zzzap! and No. 73; Zee also left, replaced by Flynn (who was played by Kate Lonergan, formerly of Maid Marian and her Merry Men). Dr. Kovan and Brian remained, and the setting continued to be a space station; the 'base station on Earth' concept also continued with Paul Hendy joining to present with Lucinda.
This was the final series of P9, ending on 17 September 1994. The following year saw the introduction of Fully Booked as the new 'summer replacement' for Live & Kicking.
In total, there have been 64 editions of Parallel 9.
|Series||Began||Ended||Number of episodes|
|Series 1||25 April 1992||19 September 1992||20 *|
|Series 2||24 April 1993||18 September 1993||22|
|Series 3||23 April 1994||17 September 1994||22|
(* Series 1 was off-air for two of the 22 summer weeks due to coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics.)