Judge Dredd
For King and Country

Starring: Toby Longworth, Helen Goldwyn and Jeremy James
Big Finish
RRP £9.99
ISBN 1 84435 054 1
Available 18 June 2004

When the royal family of Brit-Cit is wiped out by a terrorist attack and the unsuspecting heir to the throne is discovered on the streets of Mega City One, Judge Dredd is dispatched to protect the young king and finds himself thrown into a world of demanding divas, cockney kidnappers and souvenir teacups...

After the previously released, dramatically intense, Dredd audio War Crimes (which is incredible, incidentally), Big Finish play the latest release almost entirely for laughs.

For King and Country sees Dredd travelling to Brit-Cit as he escorts a new, young king who is to take the throne after the previous royal family were killed by an assassin. The new monarch, er... King Justin, is the illegitimate son of the now deceased prince and has-been popstar Brightly Shines. Shines throws herself into her new role as the Queen Mother, but Justin doesn't really want the job of being the king of such a dismal and backward country.

This audio has many impressive little touches which add to the comedy. There are plenty of subtle (and tons of not so subtle) jokes. These include the Queen pinching a few lines from a well known Pulp hit; the militant group of the Terry and June Appreciation Society claiming responsibility for the assignation of the Royal Family (I know some of them - they'd never do it!); the list of Shines's current pop songs (Oops! Is it that time again?, Oops! I'm a girl and a love droid, baby and Damn! Smack me harder! One more time!); and a look at American stereotypical views of us Brits (a nation with bad teeth who see curry as our national dish).

The whole story is neatly linked together by a newsreader from the BCBC (Brit-Cit Broadcasting Corporation) which adds another comedic touch. Some of his news bulletins are fantastic - an example being the news that TV series Last of the Nuclear Winter Plonk has finally been axed.

Cavan Scott's script is littered with cultural jokes, but I thought the ending was a little too well signposted. Many listeners may well have worked out the conclusion before the halfway mark - but then Dredd does make a closing remark that points to the fact that this is a little clichéd. And when the villain reveals themselves Dredd tries to get them to explain their plan - in a Bond villain style - only to be told that they can't possibly sum up their great plan in a short soundbite - again, a nice dig at conventional clichés. There are also twists within twists and more than a few surprises that you won't see coming, but I though that the main villain was a little too obvious.

John Ainsworth does another great job of directing the action - even more impressive than usual as he also plays the role of Polearm the royal robot assistant.

Ian Brooker's Dicky Davidson is a very passable spoof of David Dickinson from the BBC's Bargain Hunt and I noticed that Helen Goldwyn's American accent descends into a Lancashire shriek occasionally - most noticeable when she's shouting. While this may not have been intentional, it did add an extra comedic element to the recording.

But enough! Stop reading this and order your copy from Big Finish's website now. Believe me you won't be disappointed. It's bloody hilarious.

Darren Rea

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