Last Commanders



Zoe Barker (as Skye)

Gemma Stroyan (as voice of Sciron)


Panda Television and Objective Media Group Scotland for CBBC, 30 January 2018 to 7 August 2019 (25 episodes in 2 series)


We've had a transmission from the CBBC press office:

A massively powerful Artificial Intelligence, Sciron, has created a virus to take over the Ykarus Biotech space station.
2% of Kaladians are immune and they're fighting back. Can four teams of Commanders successfully direct their avatars to complete their mission and help Skye resist Sciron?

Contestants play in groups with their friends and appear remotely from their homes.

Zoe Barker as Skye.

Effectively, Last Commanders is a point-and-click video game, where your avatar has natural intelligence and can hold a conversation with you. The players get to see what their avatar sees, though we television viewers also get establishing shots.

Vennvo shows his team some useful information.

Each episode has a particular plot: follow a trail to get something, then get out alive. The trail includes some modest puzzles, made much more difficult by the remote communication. You might be able to see the way each coloured pipe fits into the next, but you've also got to explain it to your avatar in the game.

While promoting their show, the producers made comparisons with Knightmare, Gamesmaster, Red Dwarf, and The Demon Headmaster. This might have raised expectations too high, it's a show to demonstrate the tech, to live and experience.

By and large, the drama was the weakest part of Last Commanders. While the teams being chased by Cybers is scary, we never found tension to be sustained for more than a few moments. There was an overarching story, teased out across the series, where it emerged Sciron was (gasp!) Skye's sister. The second series added more people to the space station, and had one bizarre episode where everything took place inside Sciron's head, and the winning Commanders helped the bad guys progress against Skye.

One for the parents: the set design was a slight homage to 1990s video games like "Doom" and "Quake". Puzzles were carefully integrated into the set, reminiscent of the Resident Evil games, rather than The Crystal Maze's "Here is a room, here is a puzzle, solve it".

Avoid Cybers. Stay alive.

Last Commanders is a technological marvel, all done by laptop kits and self-assembly instructions. The editing is superb: they synchronise four stories and cut from one to another to tell the story in different voices.

We often forget that the greatest fantasy shows - Knightmare, Raven, Red Dwarf, The Crystal Maze - all took a few series to bed in. From its first series, Last Commanders showed much promise, and was rightly given all the awards going - culminating in a Children's BAFTA for Best Entertainment Programme. Surely Sciron couldn't stop the resistance!

Sadly, the COVID pandemic proved more successful at stopping Skye and her colleagues, and Last Commanders fell out of production after two years. Show producer Ryan Paul Meloy told an interview, "In the same way that Knightmare really spoke to me, I'd love it if in 15 or 20 years someone out there looks back on Last Commanders with that same fondness."

Theme music

HyperDuck Soundworks wrote a full score for the show.


Graphics realised by Jump.

"Fear Falls" was the working title for the show and/or production company.

Web links

Kinetic Pixel describe how they got the technology to work.

Den of Geek article

Wireframe on the perils of adapting video games, with special reference to Last Commanders.

See also

Weaver's Week review


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