by Mark Nobes, chief editor
Often described at "The Goodies in space", Astronauts is a long forgotten ITV sitcom that originally aired from 26th Oct 1981 to 23rd Aug 1983. None of my friends seem to remember it (maybe I just mix with the wrong people!), and I have been unable to find any clips from the series on Youtube.
However, as you will discover, the comedy had a team of very well-known writers and producers involved in its creation. The comedy ran for two series, with 13 half-hour episodes (including the ads).
Penned by Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden, the humour was generally more mainstream than The Goodies, although there were sporadic bursts of bizarreness. The script editors were the legendary Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (who also penned Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet), and the producers were Tony Charles and Douglas Argent who also produced Fawlty Towers. With such a mighty team of mega talent, you would have expected something pretty outstanding.
The idea was certainly original, and came long before the BBC space comedy Red Dwarf. Two Men, one woman and a dog are living together on Sky-Lab, Britain's first manned space mission. The humour was based around the claustrophobic environment and the inevitable tensions it caused.
Commander Malcolm Mattocks - Christopher Godwin
Godwin provided the voice of Darth Vader in the online multiplayer video game Star Wars: The Old Republic. He made his TV debut in an episode of Softly Softly.
Dr. Gentian Foster - a no-nonsense science officer played by Carmen Du Sautoy
You may remember Du Sautoy as the belly-dancing temptress, Saida, in the 1974 Jame Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun.
Technical Officer David Ackroyd is Mattocks defiant partner played by Barrie Rutter
Rutter had previously played an armed robber in the 1979 film version of Porridge.
Beadle - the astronauts' American contact at mission control - played by Bruce Boa.
You may remember Boa as the guest in the "Waldorf Salad" episode of Fawlty Towers. He also played General Rieekan in the 1980 movie The Empire Strikes Back.
Sadly, this was a pretty underwhelming and forgettable comedy. I believe that the main problem lies with the fact that much of comedy in The Goodies relied on slapstick routines set outdoors. With a story line set on a tiny space lab, Oddie and Garden were already limiting themselves to what they could write. Put simply, the series didn't suit their writing style.
The DVD of the complete two series was made available back in 2012. If you're a fan of The Goodies then you may want to give it a go, but I think you'll find it pretty hard going.