A look at some of the characters, allies and adversaries on the Enigma Satellite.
Coco (COmmand COmputer) was both the host of the programme and The Satellite Game’s version of Treguard.
Freyja Westdal, voice of Coco, went on to host the two pilots of Broadsword Television’s Cyberzone as a disembodied floating head but was replaced when the programme was commissioned for BBC2 with Thesp, played by actor James Grout.
The on-screen presence of Coco was provided by the Sound to Light Device, a light synthesizer created by Incentive and which reacted to the actor’s voice. The device displayed a series of patterns which changed shape and size as the actress spoke.
The official Mission Briefing document, issued to contestants when in the studio, states that Coco was ‘fitted with an anti-panic board’ and a ‘Vox Syntex speech synthesizer’.
In addition to general hosting, Coco provided regular Risk Factor analysis to the mission commanders in any given scenario. This was either ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ and indicated how dangerous the current situation was. Coco also dispensed ‘Subject’ and ‘Location’ analysis’ when the mission commanders entered a new environment or encountered a new character.
In a stark difference to Knightmare’s Dungeon Master, mission commanders could question Coco at any time. An earpiece in the actress’ ear would allow producer Tim Child to tell her how to respond.
At the end of each episode, after the shuttle had left Enigma, Coco would sign off with “but remember... this mission is undefeated, we will return!”
MK 5 LARI
LARI (Lightly Armed Robotic Investigator) was the codename for the droid used to investigate the Enigma satellite. LARI was voiced by actor David Learner, building on his experience as Marvin the android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio and TV series. David of course went on to play Pickle in Knightmare Series 4-6.
Each mission was provided with its own LARI unit, holding no memories of previous missions. These were explained to be surplus droids originally commissioned to disinfect a planet Thargus 4 following a war.
LARI was able to reach a maximum Hoverspeed of 6 – (roughly 50kmph) and had air brakes to regulate speed and movement. Initially armed with the droid-standard two Vendix Lasers and Laserguard Bodymax energy shields, it was necessary that the mission commanders find additional upgrades in the form of Combat Shields and Beam Lasers. Without these additional armaments the mission was doomed to failure.
LARI had a ‘suicide-inhibitor’ which meant that it only did what it was told ‘some of the time’. This kept him within the limits of the preplanned gameplay scenarios.
Different communication modes were available to the mission commanders:
Upon completion of a successful mission, the LARI unit was ‘officially retired to a teaching position at Droid School on Titan and excused all further missions’.
Just as most actors on Knightmare played two or more non-player characters, the cast of The Satellite Game played each two or more inhabitants of Enigma.
The characters included androids created by Enigma and based on humans observed on Earth satellite TV.
One of the few surviving ‘Arcturian Snarks’, who worshipped themselves as gods and starved when they became too holy to eat. Confined to The Hall of Sleepers. Played by Tom Coulthard.
Lightning-fast, weary and dim-witted superhero android. Described as ‘Flash Gordon with the brain of Dallas’s Cliff Barnes’. Encountered in multiple environments. Played by Tom Coulthard.
Eve 45D / Brenda
Known only from this publicity photo and from documents which refer to her as ‘Eve 45D’, or ‘Brenda from Lesbos’. Played by Alice Arnold, who went on to appear in Broadsword Television’s Timebusters for CBBC.
Android teleport hostess. Played by Alice Arnold.
A forerunner of Knightmare Series 4’s door monsters, this morose tomato was a computer animation with the actor’s mouth. Asked riddles. Confined to the vegetable patch in the Hydroponic Gardens. Played by Colum Gallivan.
Android representing an American cop. Played by Colum Gallivan.
Android representing an Irish police constable. Asked riddles. Played by Colum Gallivan.
Giant android representing a TV chef. Asked riddles. Found only in Kitchenworld. Played by Sonya Leite.
Android cinema usherette. Hacked by Enigma who used this android to speak directly to the mission commanders. Played by Sonya Leite.
Computer animation with a superimposed live actor’s mouth. Uses included asking riddles. Found in multiple environments and Octunnels. Played by various actors.
'We made The Sat Game over one winter of 1990, one of the worst in recent memory. Sue [Child] had done a hotel deal to allow the cast of interactors to stay in a 3-star hotel in Norwich. Instead they all opted to take the accommodation allowance and they all moved into a holiday cottage at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads. Sadly it was a summer holiday cottage and the heating was accordingly poor and they froze most nights, and had to warm up in the studio canteen.'
Hostile forces and robokillers
In addition to the encounters with actor-based characters, a group of animation-based threats were created by The Travelling Matte Company.
A titanium-shielded security robot capable of neutralising LARI. Armed with at least one micro-mace droidbuster, a low velocity semi-intelligent projectile that will consistently pursue targets for more than 20km. Also armed with tunnel hunter missiles and pulse lasers.
A particularly powerful missile capable of destroying LARI.
An oversized metallic insect encountered in the Hydroponic Gardens and in Death Park.Other threats Further obstacles that LARI might encounter in Simuscan mode and be damaged by:
Many of the production team on The Satellite Game also worked on Knightmare and other Broadsword Television productions.
The Satellite Game was a Broadsword Television production for British Satellite Broadcasting.