Space 1889
The Steppes of Thoth

Starring: Simon Williams and Ivor Danvers
Noise Monster Productions
RRP: 10.99
Available 24 March 2005

Governor-General Sir Henry Routledge assigns Captain Roger St John Ffolkes to cross the savage wilderness known as the Steppes of Thoth to find the wreckage of the downed ether ship
Perbindesh. The official reason: to locate and rescue any survivors. Unofficially, Ffolkes must recover a precious Martian artefact that was being secretly transported aboard the vessel...

And so the adventure that is Space 1889 continues, taking Victorian-style colonialism and derring-do to the planet Mars. "It's just like India," sighs Sir Henry Routledge (Ivor Danvers), in case any of us hadn't picked up on the symbolism.

In this version of history, the canals that the astronomer Percival Lowell fancied that he saw on the surface of the red planet are very real, and they play a vital role in the treacherous journey that Captain St John Ffolkes (Simon Williams) is called upon to undertake.

Upper lips don't come any stiffer than that of Simon Williams, star of Upstairs Downstairs and the Doctor Who adventure Remembrance of the Daleks, and he is absolutely spiffing as Ffolkes. His Victorian propriety finds a good foil in the spiritedly modern female form of Georgina Golightly (Jo Castleton), though even she feels somewhat ill at ease when a disaster on the waves leaves her undergarments exposed to the gaze of men. Fortunately they are all gentlemen, so they avert their eyes to spare the lady's dignity.

In my review of the previous instalment, Red Devils, I commented upon the large number of "English toff" characters, which sometimes made it difficult for me to tell them all apart. This time there is considerably more variety in terms of voices, as Ffolkes is accompanied on his journey by his plain-speaking batman, Sergeant Carstairs (Toby Longworth), and by an American, Lucas H Tyler (Jon Weinberg).

Add some fiendish Hun to the mix and what do you get? A right ripping yarn, what!

Richard McGinlay