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ArchivesFear not, the series does exist in full in its episodic English language 16mm colour version. For many years the name of Scottish Television threw people off the scent (their international sales arm must have put cash into the project but none of their staff appear to have worked on it) and no copies existed in the STV archive in Glasgow. In fact Star Maidens was a purely independent production from James Gatward’s Portman Productions and it was Gatward’s involvement that appears to have brought the series to rest at Southern Television. Gatward and Portman made the successful 1978-9 children’s series The Famous Five on behalf of Southern and soon afterwards Gatward found himself in charge of the South of England ITV franchise, after heading the consortium that, unwittingly, killed off Southern. A joint-bid with Southern for the South and South East England regions was awarded solely to his TVS (for more see http://members.tripod.co.uk/Southern_TV/southern-franbat.html)! So it was that he presumably stuck his own company’s productions onto the shelves of the Southern archive when TVS took over the region as 1981 turned to 1982. It’s possibly an ironic final resting place, since so far I have been unable to track down evidence of any screening of Star Maidens by Southern in 1976/7.

Thus it is that today the prints of Star Maidens reside in the converted garage space (near Maidenhead - oh the irony!) that is the Southern Star Archive. This collection is now owned by media company Primetime, who in 1999 released much of Portman’s The Famous Five on video via their ILC label. Of Star Maidens on video or DVD in the UK there is as yet no sign. The condition of the Southern Star prints is unknown - an episode was aired at the Cult TV convention in Liverpool in 2001. Richard Spurr has written to say that he noticed the episode jumping but suspects this was down to poor copying rather than necessarily a poor master. The digitally remastered German language video release showed their prints to be in excellent condition. Only some of the location work looked a little tatty and also the opening scenes of The Perfect Couple looked a little overexposed and scratchy. Otherwise it’s in staggering quality (particularly if you recall seeing the bicycled ITV prints back in the 70s!). Certainly the title sequences are in terrible condition though, but this is possibly just a result of the re-exposing for retitling process back in the 70s. Then again, could these Hessischer Rundfunk copies have been sourced from British prints in the first place? Obviously there’s a lot of supposition in the above archive summation - if you know better, get in touch!