Soldiers of Love
Story Four - Ominous Passage

Starring: Michael Keating, Gareth Thomas and Nicholas Courtney
Available now

Mydas, Cilla, Ytzabub and Turnidus crash-land on Xoolian Major, where their ship rapidly sinks into a swamp. En route to the very same planet, Galileo Gamak searches for the missing Madame Deephole...

Practically all the saga's various plot strands now converge on Xoolian Major, a world that proves pivotal to the mysterious plans of Aaran, alias the Editor (Gareth Thomas).

Accompanying Gamak (Mark J. Thompson) is the phonetically named broadcaster Jake Avara (Peter Ager), who seeks clues regarding the fate of his brother, Mydas Mydason. Despite being away from his usual job, Jake amusingly continues to enunciate like a continuity announcer! Also along for the ride is the Editor's camp uncle, Hywel, played by Gareth Thomas, who sends up his own Welsh accent to comical extremes. I'd noticed that the previous instalment of Soldiers of Love had broken with a short-lived tradition by not including a Uranus joke, but this episode compensates for that by having two of them - and, as Hywel, Thomas milks the innuendo for all it's worth!

Aside from the celebrity voices (Keating, Courtney and Jan Chappell all reprise their roles), this instalment holds additional interest for Blake's 7 and Doctor Who fans. The former are treated to a hilarious trailer for Jake Avara's new drama series, Jake's Heaven, featuring the exploits of a band of fashion rebels. Can you guess the smutty name of the freedom fighters' awesome spaceship? Meanwhile, within the main narrative, Jake, Gamak and Hywel are menaced by a rather familiar sounding, electronically voiced alien foe.

New additions to the pantheon of characters include a precocious child, Panakol Floorunner (Mark J. Thompson again), who will seem eerily familiar to Star Wars fans. The equally versatile Alison Taffs (who also plays the vastly different characters of Maureen Mydason and Violet Goodgrip) creates another distinctive voice in her role as Stellar Network Radio's food-fixated cookery expert, Mrs Blubber.

Concluding the CD, one of the customary musical tracks is in this instance a groovy club-style mix of the main theme. This makes for easier listening than many of the songs that have thus far graced this eccentric serial.

As the double entendres carry on getting filthier, and the sci-fi spoofs grow sillier than ever, there are plenty of pleasurable passages in this particular part.

Richard McGinlay