The 1970s science-fiction series Star Maidens explored the conflict between matriarchal and patriarchal societies. The joint German and British 13-episode series enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in 2005 when it was released for the first time on DVD. Though it seems a little dated now, it is still quaintly enjoyable.
Star Maidens: Exploration of Matriarchal Society
A look back at the 1976 science-fiction TV show Star Maidens starring Gareth Thomas and Judy Geeson.
Star Maidens was a joint German and British production that was broadcast on ITV in the UK in 1976 and was mostly forgotten by all but a few loyal fans until it was released as a Star Maidens DVD in 2005. The show comprised thirteen 25 minute long episodes and told the story of the planet Medusa were women rule and men do menial tasks or are used as domestic servants.
Medusa is a rogue planet blown out of orbit and heading into Earth’s solar system. Two men – Adam (played by Pierre Brice) and Shem (played by Gareth Thomas) – escape to Earth to seek sanctuary. They are pursued by Adam’s mistress Grand Councillor Fulvia (played by Judy Geeson) and Chief Security Controller Octavia (played by Christiane Kruger).
The Medusans take two Earth scientists hostage – Rudi Schmidt (played by Christian Quadflieg) and his assistant Liz Becker (played by Lisa Harrow) – and take them back to Medusa.
The story thus alternated between seeing Earth through the eyes of Medusans and Medusa through the eyes of humans.
Star Maidens Episodes
The most famous guest star to appear in the show was comic actor Alfie Bass who played the castle gatekeeper in the third episode “Nightmare Cannon”.
Episodes four (“The Proton Storm”) and five (“Kidnap”) were written by John Lucarotti, who also wrote the Doctor Who episodes “Marco Polo”, “The Aztecs” and “The Massacre”.
When the show was broadcast in the UK, “The Trial” was episode six followed by “Test For Love” as episode seven. However, when it was released on VHS in Germany in 1999 the episodes were shown the other way round as it was thought that this made more sense because of the reactions of Rudi to life on Medusa. This order does work better as in “The Trial” Rudi makes contact with the male resistance force on Medusa and no reference is made of that in “Test For Love”.
In episode eight “The Perfect Couple”, the strength of the relationship between Garcia and Freda from the women’s movement on Earth is only hinted at in the episode but is made more clear in the novelisation by Ian Evans.
Another Doctor Who writer got his hands on episode nine “What Have They Done to the Rain”. This was Ian Stuart Black who wrote “The War Machines”. This episode was directed by Freddie Francis who also directed the 1967 film They Came From Beyond Space.
Following episodes nine and ten, which are set purely on Medusa, episode eleven returns to Earth to pick up on the adventures of Adam and Shem who are being hunted by the police. The police catch Adam and a car thief they believe to be Shem. Shem meanwhile is falling in love with an earth woman called Rose (played by Conny Collins).
The penultimate episode is an odd standalone adventure on Medusa. Liz and Rudi are asked to clear out the old records of past scientific experiments and come across a forgotten artificial intelligence.
The series ends with an agreed exchange of hostages but Adam is given permission by the Medusans to stay on Earth if he wishes. However, when an old enemy of Medusa turns up, Adam decides to go back and help defend Medusa.
Star Maidens Theme
The Star Maidens theme music was played by Barry Lipman and his orchestra. A complete Star Maidens sound track CD was released in 1999 to coincide with the German release of the series on VHS. This is difficult to get hold of. Barry Lipman’s real name was Friedel Berlipp and he also composed the music for the series.
Star Maidens Trivia
Gareth Thomas, who played Shem, is better known for the starring role of Roj Blake in another science fiction drama Blake’s 7, which hit the screens just over two years later. Another Blake’s 7 connection is Derek Farr, who played Professor Evans in eight episodes of Star Maidens and Ensor in the Blake’s 7 episode “Orac”.
Lisa Harrow came to Star Maidens immediately after playing Anna Davis in the Space 1999 episode “The Testament of Arkadia”.
Even though the planet is clearly called Medusa in the show, TV Times at the time almost consistently referred to it as Mendusa.
The panels from the enemy space ship in the final episode were reused from UFO and later reused again in episodes of Timeslip, Doctor Who and Blake’s 7.
Star Maidens Information
Probably the best resource for more information on Star Maidens is this web site.