Soldiers of Love
Part Twelve - SOS

Starring: Nicholas Courtney, Anna Karen, Jacqueline Pearce and Gareth Thomas
RRP 9.99
Available now

Cilla, Cindy, Frag, Gamak, Hywel, Snyder, Turnidus and Ytzabub head for Xoolian Major to answer an SOS. But who sent the mysterious distress call? Could it be Jake Avara or Madame D? Or is it part of a trap set by the dastardly Arran...?

What could be better than having Gareth Thomas in your sci-fi comedy drama? Having two of him, of course! In this instalment, Hywel Hammond and Arran Arkenstein, two characters previously portrayed by Thomas, though never before in the same scene, finally confront one another. Believe it or not, Thomas actually manages to crank up his deliberately OTT villainous performance even higher than before in his role as Arran, now that he has to compete with himself in camp mode as Hywel. Well, he is supposed to be same arch character that Colin Baker played in Part One.

Speaking of whom, Baker features in a brief flashback to that very first episode, as Cindy (Mark J Thompson) recalls a comment she made back then, thereby tying up a loose end that had been left dangling since the beginning of the series.

And speaking of memories, do you remember what happened to the Retsab-Maureen (Alison Taffs)? No, me neither, which is why I found the narrated recap at the beginning of the CD very useful indeed. Madame Deephole (Jacqueline Pearce), Major Grondlepuss (Mark J Thompson), Crispin Caelys (Niall Stuchfield) and Violet Goodgrip (Alison Taffs) also make welcome returns. It probably came as a relief to the talented Ms Taffs that her character Mrs Blubber stayed behind on Earth at the end of the last instalment, because in addition to Maureen and Violet, she also plays the arachnid Zalia in this episode.

I wonder if this CD was recorded in more of a hurry than usual, because I noticed a few semi-fluffed lines along the way. Nothing major, just a few mispronunciations and instances of incorrectly placed emphasis.

Still, we get what we came for: plenty of double entendres concerning rings, long pink things and the importance of a good oral range.

Richard McGinlay