People can enjoy a blast from the past this weekend as 80s tv cops Dempsey and Makepeace launch a summer reading challenge.

Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber will be appearing in a free event at Balham Library from 11am on Saturday, July 13 to send Wandsworth’s Summer Reading Challenge into orbit.

Two of the biggest stars of the 1980s, who played the dynamic detective duo in the hit TV series, will be reading from space and detective-themed books before leading the youngsters on a hunt for ‘missing space books’ dotted around the library.

It’s all part of this year’s challenge for children aged four to 11 to read any six library books of their choice and keep up their reading skills over the summer holidays.

"I appeared in the Captain America film and Glynis starred in the sci-fi TV series Blake’s 7 so we know a thing or two about space,” Mr Brandon said.

“I also love reading children’s books and for a number of years I did all the voices for Thomas the Tank Engine.

"We’re both delighted to be launching this year’s Summer Reading Challenge for the borough. Libraries are so important for firing the imagination.”

The pair famously became a couple after appearing together in Dempsey & Makepeace and they now live in Putney.

But it was in his home town of New York that he first became aware of the power of libraries and reading.

"When I was a kid the library was gym for my brain,” he said.

“There was a library in my school and we also used to take sponsored trips to the New York Public Library.

"For me it was like going to the pyramids – this wonderful place where you would do excavations of the mind.

"The characters and creatures I would read about was where my inner life started to take off. It’s certainly not just a place to get your parking permit.”

The appearance by the tv cops will trigger a summer of space-themed events in Wandsworth libraries that include:

  • Meeting Lorraine Piddington, the author of The Aliens Who Loved Lemon Curd, at Wandsworth Town Children’s Library on July 26
  • Making a space-themed mini magazine at Balham Children’s Library on July 27
  • A workshop to create your own alien at Battersea Park Children’s Library on August 19.