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Stardrive was the fourth episode of Series D it was first broadcast 19 October 1981.


From the VHS release:

With her main drive unit damaged beyond repair, the Scorpio and the crew will be stranded on the base unless they can find a replacement. Dr. Plaxton and her drive prototype provide a dream solution, except there's one problem - she's working for the Space Rats...


Scorpio is attempting to sneak into the Altern system to obtain fuel crystals. Avon has the ship close to within metres of an asteroid in order to hide from sensors but they collide with it, breaching the hull and badly damaging the engines. The damaged area is now open to a vacuum and the repairs can't be done while wearing a bulky spacesuit. Vila, feigned drunkenness so he won't have to work, offers a solution: Seal the damaged hull with a force wall and pressurise the area. Avon and Tarrant hurry to carry out repairs. While they are working, a group of Federation interceptors approach but explode without explanation.

Back on Xenon, the crew show Orac a recording of the explosion but he merely states the reason is on the screen. After a systematic frame-by-frame search, Soolin finally notices that the interceptors were fired on by a small ship moving faster than the eye could see. Orac notes that if it was moving at time distort twelve in real time, the likely explanation is that Doctor Plaxton has perfected her photonic drive. Vila identifies a close-up of the pilot as a Space Rat, one of a gang of speed-obsessed thugs based on the planet Caspar.

Plaxton and her assistant Napier are indeed with the Space Rats on Caspar, using their resources for the development of the drive. Atlan, the Space Rats' leader who has been keeping them loyal by indulging their obsession for faster ships, is hoping to use the drive and the ability to strike without warning to gain control of all trade routes. Plaxton completes work on her new drive, which can manage time distort fifteen, but Atlan is enraged when she tells him it is too large to fit on the Space Rats' one-man ships and cannot be reduced in size.

Scorpio arrives in orbit, intending to acquire the drive. Vila and Dayna teleport down to the surface. Avon and Tarrant then land the ship, robbing them of their escape route: They plan for the pair to be captured as a diversion. Vila and Dayna find the Space Rats' base but are captured by Atlan's deputy Bomber. Atlan orders them killed but Dayna changes his mind by claiming they are old students of Plaxton.

Atlan introduces the pair to a bewildered Plaxton and they claim they can make the drive smaller. Meanwhile, Avon, Tarrant and Soolin also reach the base and cut their way into the laboratory, retrieving their crewmates, the new drive and Plaxton. The Space Rats pursue them but Avon kills Atlan and his lieutenants by detonating mines planted earlier. The crew fight their way to Scorpio and take off.

Another group of interceptors heads for Scorpio and Plaxton goes to install the drive so they can outrun them. When the interceptors fire, Avon sets the engines to cut in as soon as Plaxton makes the final connection, killing Plaxton but allowing Scorpio to outrun the plasma bolts.



  • Stunt Co-ordinator - Terry Forrestal, Neil Dickson
  • Production Manager - Rosemary Crowson
  • Production Associate - Frank Pendlebury
  • Production Assistant - Joan Marine, Rena Butterwick
  • Assistant Floor Manager - Christopher Moss
  • Film Cameraman - Fintan Sheehan
  • Film Recordist - John Tellick, Mike Savage
  • Film Editor - Sheila S. Tomlinson
  • Videotape Editor - Sam Upton
  • Visual Effects Designer - Jim Francis, Andy Lazell
  • Video Effects - Robin Lobb
  • Graphic Designer - Doug Burd
  • Properties Buyer - Francis Smith
  • Technical Manager - Terry Brett
  • Senior Cameraman - Dave White
  • Vision Mixer - Nigel Finnis
  • Studio Lighting - Warwick Fielding
  • Studio Sound - Malcolm Johnson
  • Special Sound - Elizabeth Parker
  • Costume Designer - Nicholas Rocker
  • Make Up Artist - Suzanne Jansen
  • Music By - Dudley Simpson
  • Series Created By - Terry Nation

Story notes[]

  • This is the second of two episodes written by Jim Follett, the first being "Dawn of the Gods".
  • Plaxton is played by a double in the location sequences, where she has no dialogue.



Filming locations[]

Dunstable, Beds.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • This is the only episode in which Federation interceptors, first mentioned in "Seek-Locate-Destroy", are seen on screen. However, the interceptors here are identical to pursuit ships, rather than the guided missiles implied in other episodes.
  • This episode establishes that the crew are still using Xenon Base, which they apparently abandoned in "Power".


Avon: (as the flight deck is ripped with explosions) Slave, initiate the backup system!
Slave: I'm very sorry about this but that was the backup system.

Soolin: (On learning the crippled ship has 155 hours of air left) By the time the oxygen runs out, we'll be bored as well as dead.

Vila: (monitoring the interceptors) If they detect us, I have this feeling that the last thing they'll do is surrender.

Vila: There's no such thing as a friend of a Space Rat, they even hate each other!

Bomber: (Pointing a gun at Vila and Dayna) Tell you what this does, gook. It goes bang...and you go splat.

Home video releases[]

Series 4 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 22) in 1992.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 22) on 6 September 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 4 box set on 24 April 2006.

External links[]