Recorded on: 16-18 July 2019
Recorded at: Moat Studios
STAR COPS MARS PART 2 WRITER'S NOTES
2.4 Bodies of Evidence by Andrew Smith
One of the difficult decisions in planning our Mars stories was that it wasn’t feasible for the ISPF to send our five regulars to Mars as part of the effort to set up a Star Cop base there. Not when they would be gone for two years or more. And so, reluctantly, it was decided we could only send Nathan, Kenzy and Devis on that mission.
It was a particular pleasure, then, to return to the Moon for part of Bodies of Evidence, and involve Chief Superintendent Priya Basu and Inspector Paul Bailey in the investigation of a crash on the lunar surface (the ‘Ganymede incident’ cryptically referred to in the previous box set) that has ramifications for their colleagues’ Mars mission. By which I also mean it was a delight to ensure we would have Rakhee Thakrar and Phil Olivier in the studio with us again.
Across the two Mars box sets, the episodes are far more interconnected than before. We’re telling a continuing story. We’ve previously set up what the colonisation of Mars looks like, with its many mostly privately-sponsored bases spread across the planet. We’ve established characters who will continue to have a significant role in these concluding episodes. And now we begin to get an idea of something else going on. Something secret and sinister, and dangerous. Nuggets of information seeded throughout the first three Mars episodes are seen to have greater significance than might have appeared.
We’ll also resolve some mysteries from the first Mars boxset, including the cliffhanger ending to that set. We had a lovely response to that, and now you can find out just what was going on to lead to that extraordinary revelation.
2.5 Human Kind by Helen Goldwyn
When the idea of writing a Star Cops episode was mooted, I confess I thought ‘ooh that will be easy’ as I knew the characters so well and had directed the first two series.
However, my confidence was soon wavering when I realised the specific skills required to a) write an episode within a highly complex pre-planned series and b) to write a story which needed an understanding of police procedure! Thankfully the brilliant Andrew Smith (with his vast experience of real-life policing) was on hand to support and guide and after much wrangling with new concepts, I finally got up and running.
Andrew had done an amazing job of outlining the overall story arc and it was down to the writers to research even more about Mars and fill in the detail of each episode. This gave us the freedom to create new characters and one of the main pleasures of writing my story was creating the central role of Neve. I wanted her journey to be intense and momentous, having come from a place where she’d been indoctrinated into one way of thinking, and then having to deconstruct everything she’d grown up believing. Having participated in some dubious practices up to that point, she then had the chance to redeem herself by doing the right thing.
I certainly learned an enormous amount during the writing process and I can honestly say it was the most challenging script I’ve written so far. I soon became acutely aware that writing in my usual fantasy sci-fi arena gives all sorts of opportunities for getting characters out of scrapes simply by ‘making things up’. No such luxury in a series like Star Cops as it’s really a police drama that happens to be set in space, which means every event needs to be plausible! Much much harder to write!
It’s always interesting to direct something that I’ve written as I have an unusual degree of detachment from my own scripts. Once we’re in the studio, I honestly barely remember writing the dialogue and feel that I’m coming to it pretty fresh. That’s fun when you get to a bit where you think ‘ooh that’s good’ and remember that you wrote it!
I’m so grateful to Andrew for all the input he had in this script and the patience he had with my endless questions. I do hope there’s a slightly different spin on this particular story, simply because I came at it as a novice to the genre. I certainly came away with a whole new perception.
2.6 The Highest Ground by Andrew Smith
This is a proper finale episode to conclude the adventures of our Star Cops on Mars. The gloves are off, characters’ true motivations and alliances are revealed, and our heroes are in immediate and deadly danger.
I’ve loved writing these episodes, and reading what Una, Guy and Helen did with theirs. And it was a pleasure to get to wrap things up.
One day, very likely within a generation, we’ll be sending people to Mars for real, and with these stories we’ve taken pains to be true to what scientists predict mankind’s presence on Mars will look like. During my research, I was totally drawn in by what I learned about the red planet and how we’d colonise it. I can now see an image of Mars on the news or in a documentary and immediately recognise Mariner Valley, the Tharsis Mountains, Olympus Mons and elsewhere.
From the beginning, I wanted Olympus Mons to be the setting for the final showdown between the Star Cops and their adversaries on Mars, and it provides the main location for this episode. It’s an epic setting, the largest mountain anywhere in the solar system. 16 miles high (about three times the height of Everest) and 374 miles across, the area it covers is roughly equivalent to the area of Italy. Where better to place Nathan Spring and his team as they fight for their lives?