Recently on social media, many people have been recalling their first experience with Star Trek so I thought I’d tell my story from a toddler up to aged 16.
Star Trek first aired in the UK in the very late 60s and was used to fill gaps between series of Doctor Who. Trek was never shown in order on its initial UK run and a few episodes were banned due to the content being deemed unsuitable for its time slot
During the early to mid-70s the BBC began to rebroadcast Star Trek once again in a very random order.
This is where I come in….
I was born in 1972. Apparently I was often transfixed by the TV whenever Trek came on. By the age of about 3 or 4 I was hooked. To this day my dad still makes fun of me for something I did every time the show began.
This show took me places I had only imagined and shown me how to behave and treat others for the better. Plus it had spaceships, laser guns, aliens and more. What more could I ask for!
During the opening titles the USS Enterprise would fly towards the viewer as you can see above. Every single time this happened I would duck or dive out of the way!
The four episodes that I remember watching most vividly are ‘Devil in the Dark’, ‘A Piece of the Action’, ‘Spectre of the Gun’ and ‘Wolf in the Fold’.
Apart from the TV episodes my only other source of Star Trek was merchandise and books. I needed as much Trek as I could get. I only had a few real obsessions at the time and I had to fill the void when the show was off air.
My parents bought me the Star Trek Exploration Set which consisted of a small phaser, tricorder and communicator on a belt. To go along with it I had a plastic costume which I recall made me sweat like a dog in a wet market. You can see these in the photos above.
We used to have something called Sunday Markets over here. Not sure if they still exist but back in the 70s, our local one had a guy with a huge truck selling all manner of items very cheap. It was here that I got my complete Mego action figure, bridge set and transporter. I loved this toy so much and would love to have it again as, like my other toys, I played them until they broke.
Our local toy shop, which would be my source for all things sci-fi (Star Trek/Wars/Dr Who/Space 1999) took stock of the Dinky USS Enterprise and the Klingon Battlecruiser. Again, both flown to within breaking point and they both took part in many battles, some of which have songs sung about them on the Klingon homeworld. ‘The Battle of Grannies Balcony’ comes to mind.
I recently undertook a project to clean and restore my Dinky Enterprise which was in serious need of a refit. You can read about that here. I’ll be restoring the Klingon ship next.
But I still needed more. The TV show was off and on and off again and the episodes were still being broadcast in random order. Luckily I managed to get hold of some books.
There were three kinds available over here. The first was a series of books by author James Blish. Blish retold the stories that were shown on TV- this helped me with the episodes that were not broadcast in the UK. Blish expanded on the TV version and on occasion, embellished certain events but they were good fun.
There were also a number of original stories written by a variety of authors including James Blish who wrote one of my early favourites, Spock Must Die!
Finally, the last type of books were the Star Trek Fotonovels. 12 in total were released and were all based on a different episode from the show- the books told the story using photos from the various episodes. I still have all 12 and managed to get two of them signed.
Then in 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out. Two books came with it. The first was a novelisation written by Gene Roddenberry and the second was a fotonovel of the film using the same format as the previous one.
There were also other things that came out such as Viewmaster disks for both the movie and some episodes, annuals that were based on the Gold Key comics of the late 60s onward and a vinyl record which retold the story.
By this point home video had begun to become quite popular.
We had a Betmax video recorder which meant two things- The first meant I could begin taping episodes from the TV. The second was that Star Trek: The Motion Picture had been released on Betamax disk and one of my Grannies bought it for me. I remember it costing a lot of money- around £50 back then which equates to £197 today.
When I was 16 I got my first job. It was at a retail store in Notting Hill Gate, London and was part of the WH Smith chain. We sold stationary, magazines, books and media such as VHS tapes, vinyl, cassettes and eventually CDs.
Working there helped a lot as with my staff discount card I was able to buy all of the VHS Star Trek tapes that were released plus the new novels which I could pre-order.
That was in 1988. The same year that TNG first hit the UK.
I’m still collecting today though I’ve become a bit more picky in what I buy. My first con was in 1989 and I met my first Trek guest shortly after at a con in Roanoke, Virginia, USA. It was Grace Lee Whitney who played Yeoman Rand.
My most recent Trek actor encounter was with the amazing Michelle Hurd who plays Rafi in the latest show Star Trek: Picard (which is a must see!)
The rest is history! But that was my childhood in Trek. I hope it didn’t bore you too much!
Live Long and Prosper everyone!