“That crazy king!” Five royalty-themed Anderson episodes!

It can’t have escaped your notice that the UK is about to see the first coronation of a king in over eighty years – but we also appreciate that many Anderson fans out there might be grateful of some non-coronation related viewing! Here is a selection of our favourite king-themed Anderson episodes to see you through this coronation weekend!

King Dithers

Torchy the Battery Boy featured a recurring royal character in the person of King Dithers, the easily bamboozled ruler of Topsy Turvy Land. First introduced in the appropriately-named episode King Dithers, this muddled monarch lives in an orange peel palace (“it has a wonderful smell!”) with 365 rooms (“and I live in a different one each day!”). The palace is also well stocked with cardboard, which suits the needs of Torchy just fine since his rocket is currently inoperable due to a lack of cardboard.

It’s Topsy Turvy Land, don’t question it.

Unfortunately for all concerned King Dithers is soon tangled up in a roll of cardboard, and it falls to clever old Torchy to rescue him by taking him to the top of a hill (or slight incline if you’re feeling uncharitable) and rolling him down it in order to release him from his cardboard prison. The day is saved, and a grateful King Dithers offers Torchy all the cardboard he needs to fix his rocket and escape this kingdom of madness, although our hero still unwisely elects to return in later episodes. It’s a fun if baffling introduction to the craziest king on this list, one who’s so useless he struggles to even sit on the throne without falling off.

Which makes us even more grateful that the residents of Topsy Turvy Land don’t seem to need to use the bathroom…

Flight of Fancy

Only slightly less crazy is Jimmy Gibson’s dream of battling to prevent King Rudolph of Bavania from being deposed by the villainous Mardak and his assistant Hertz – although it’s certain that he’s less interested in helping the King than he is the King’s daughter Princess Caroline after seeing her picture in a magazine. No idea where exactly the idea of Mitch the Monkey being able to speak (and with the voice of a 60s beatnik, no less) fits into this fantasy, but there we go.

Flight of Fancy isn’t to everyone’s taste, as even dedicated Supercar fans can find this Jimmy-centric dream episode a bit of a chore at times. However, it is fun to see the show’s regular characters taking on the roles of residents of Bavania within Jimmy’s dream; Professor Popkiss as King Rudolph, Masterspy and Zarin as Mardak and Hertz respectively, and even Mike Mercury as a guard – although Dr. Beaker is conspicuous by his absence. While Popkiss’ screen time as King Rudolph is minimal, with more focus placed on Jimmy and Mitch’s rescue of the Princess Caroline, the Professor makes for such a believable king that it’s almost a shame we didn’t see him masquerading as one ‘for real’ in a non-dream episode.

Even if his crown is likely made of cardboard.

King Kool

The madness continues with a king of a different kind; King Kool, the drum-playing gorilla! While not technically an actual monarch (at least, not that we know of), King Kool (or often just ‘King’ for short) is the guest star of Supercar’s final episode and the cause of much confusion as he plots to escape the clutches of tv star Bud Hamburger by switching places with Mitch, his biggest fan.

If you’re looking for an episode with a spotlight on royalty then you’re certainly not going to find it here, but what you will find is quite a bit of fun and a terrific soundtrack – despite the somewhat off-putting appearance of the main guest character! The titular King Kool is also at the heart of one of the most baffling scenes of the entire series, as he and Mitch communicate in animal grunts and growls oddly translated via subtitles into the same beatnik-style speech that Mitch used in Flight of Fancy during a scene that goes on for so long you start to question whether or not you’ve lost your grip on reality. Despite some (very) odd moments, King Kool is still lots of fun and makes for a suitably entertaining note on which to end Supercar.

The King’s speech.

King for a Day

Thank goodness for Joe 90, as it brings some much-needed sanity to this list with the political machinations of the episode King for a Day. This story sees Joe assuming the place of Prince Kahib of Ardaji, a young royal who has been kidnapped on the eve of his coronation following the murder of the Sultan. Assigned to impersonate the Prince until the genuine article can be rescued, Joe must face danger in the palace from those who engineered the death of the Sultan and now have designs on his throne for themselves…

Although featuring little action and only a few explosions the stakes of King for a Day remain high throughout the story, as any slip in the façade could see Joe’s cover being blown – as it almost is even before he arrives at the palace. Once he is under the scrutiny of the scheming regent Ben Shazar, the stage is set for the villain to drug Sam and Mac and abduct Joe – thus providing Shane Weston ample time to locate the real Prince Kahib and deliver him safely to the coronation. A dark and dramatic episode, King for a Day is also visually stunning – particularly on Blu-ray!

My Kingdom for a Zeaf

As if any further proof were needed that kings bring out a zanier side to the Anderson universe, along comes Terrahawks to confirm the fact with this memorable tale of a king taken out of time – specifically, King Richard III rescued from the Battle of Bosworth Field by Lord Tempo and Yungstar. They have no real plan in inviting him along as they return to the present to embark on their scheme to thwart the Terrahawks, and so Richard mostly spends the rest of the story baffled at the future he has suddenly found himself in!

As well as introducing the popular recurring villain of Lord Tempo, My Kingdom for a Zeaf plays with time travel tropes in such a joyful manner that it feels entirely fitting to have a historical figure along for the ride – and Robbie Stevens’ performance of Richard is one of the highlights of the episode. The story would have unfolded almost entirely the same if he hadn’t been there (and some uncharitable viewers might argue he’s entirely unnecessary to the plot anyway), but it also benefits hugely from his presence!

And kids, he lived happily ever after. Probably.

That’s a fine selection of kings and monarchs for this coronation weekend – but did we miss off an episode featuring a favourite king of yours? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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