The Satellite Game - Killer droid header image

The Satellite Game - Characters

By Jason Karl

A look at some of the characters, allies and adversaries on the Enigma Satellite.


This is one of three articles on 1990 TV series The Satellite Game written by Jason Karl, a winning contestant on Knightmare (Series 2 Team 10) and The Satellite Game. The other articles give an overview of the series and explore the game environments.

Coco

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 Satellite Game - COCO, voiced by Freya Westdal

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:

  • LARI Vision was the droid’s visual point of view
  • The Satellite Game - LARI Vision viewing mode
    LARI Vision

  • LARI View provided alternative views of the environment via LARI’s flying drone cameras
  • LARI Com was a speech mode which allowed the mission commanders to speak directly through the droid to any number of the characters within Enigma.
  • While in self-repair mode LARI would switch to Simuscan, or Radar Simulated Scanning. While giving the mission commanders a lower resolution view, it allowed them to take direct control of LARI from the space shuttle and drive him. These game sequences were created by Incentive using their Freescape Runtime VR system (later used in Cyberzone). Self-repair could only commence is damage was below 75%, any more than that and LARI would be irreparably destroyed.
  • Minescan in which invisible mine threats could be seen
  • The Satellite Game - Mission Commanders watching LARI in Mine Scan mode
    Minescan

  • Park Mode which would be used while the game was paused at the end of each episode
  • 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’.

    The Satellite Game - large LARI model with producer Tim Child
    Large LARI model with producer Tim Child

    In-game characters

    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.

    Yvarth

    The Satellite Game - Yvarth the Snark, played by Tom Coulthard

    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.

    Space Rover

    The Satellite Game - Space Rover, 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

    The Satellite Game - Eve 45D or Brenda, played by Alice Arnold

    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.

    Carmen Roller

    The Satellite Game - Carmen Roller the android teleport hostess, played by Alice Arnold

    Android teleport hostess. Played by Alice Arnold.

    Big Tom

    The Satellite Game - Big Tom the talking tomato, voiced by Colum Gallivan

    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.

    Patrolman 345671

    The Satellite Game - Patrolman 345671 the android, played by Colum Gallivan

    Android representing an American cop. Played by Colum Gallivan.

    PC 39

    The Satellite Game - PC 39 the android, played by Colum Gallivan

    Android representing an Irish police constable. Asked riddles. Played by Colum Gallivan.

    Auntie Margarina

    The Satellite Game - Margarina the android chef, played by Sonya Leite

    Giant android representing a TV chef. Asked riddles. Found only in Kitchenworld. Played by Sonya Leite.

    Sharon

    Android cinema usherette. Hacked by Enigma who used this android to speak directly to the mission commanders. Played by Sonya Leite.

    Flying spheres

    The Satellite Game - Flying sphere inline image

    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.'

    Tim Child

    The Satellite Game - cast photo of all actors and large LARI model
    The cast of The Satellite Game

    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.

    Killer droid

    The Satellite Game - Killer droid

    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.

    Big bomb

    The Satellite Game - minefield

    A particularly powerful missile capable of destroying LARI.

    Aphoid

    The Satellite Game - aphoid in the hydroponic garden

    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:
  • Orbital gun
  • Blocker (moving block)
  • Automatic wall-mounted disruptor
  • Series credits

    Many of the production team on The Satellite Game also worked on Knightmare and other Broadsword Television productions.

  • Devised and written by Tim Child
  • Additional material by Mark Wells
  • Cameras: Jules Greenway
  • Sound: Peter Watts
  • Floor manager: Tom Hunt
  • Make up: Louise Willsher
  • Costume: Prue Handley
  • Vision mixer: Mike Aston
  • Vision controller: Jim McCarthy
  • Dubbing mixer: Nigel Clowes
  • VTR engineers: Dave Mesmer, Richard Thirkettle
  • Videotape editor: Ralph Forsdick
  • Production co-ordinator: Susan Child
  • Production manager: Mark Wells
  • Production assistant: Suzanne Duncanson
  • Lighting: Malcolm Harrison
  • Completion Bond: The Completion Bond Company
  • Freescape Gameplay: Incentive
  • Illustrations: David Rowe
  • Music and effects: Geoff Grifith, Dawn Leeder
  • Computer Animation: The Travelling Matte Company
  • Production Design: Robert Harris
  • Director: Jeremy Norgrove
  • Producer: Tim Child
  • The Satellite Game was a Broadsword Television production for British Satellite Broadcasting.

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