Soldiers of Love
Story Two - Deathtraps

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

Having learned of the apparent demise of her husband, Maureen Mydason takes the first available space flight to visit her lover. This is a decision she will regret. Meanwhile, Mydas Mydason is actually very much alive, though he might not be for much longer...

Mydas actor Michael Keating is joined in this instalment by some of his old Blake's 7 chums. The unavailable Colin Baker is replaced by Gareth (Blake) Thomas by means of a cunning plot device which has the villainous Editor adopting a new guise, that of his long-lost father, Nermal Hammond. Thomas' performance is every bit as arch as Baker's was.

Meanwhile Jacqueline (Servalan) Pearce is introduced as brothel proprietor Madame Deephole, purring exotically like Elke Sommer in Carry On Behind. Not a single line is uttered during her scenes with security agent Galileo Gamak (Mark J. Thompson) that is not drenched with innuendo.

Also joining the cast are Sarah Sutton (alias Doctor Who's Nyssa) as Space Patrol Colonel Franklyn and one-time EastEnder Peter Dean playing Padrioli Jadra, one of Maureen's fellow passengers. Sutton provides a valuable straight foil amongst so many overtly comic characters, although she does get a few dry gags of her own. Dean (who previously guest-starred alongside Sammie Winmill in the Mark J. Thompson-penned BBV audio drama Only Human) will delight many a soap fan as he reprises his East London accent. The surly Maureen (Alison Taffs) provides apt company for Dean, as her character is revealed to be an escapee from the East-end gutter.

Accompanying Maureen and Jadra on their ill-fated flight is a very odd character indeed: a camp space-travelling dentist called Teddy (Mark J. Thompson again). With an unnaturally close friendship with his ever-present ventriloquist's doll, Mr Pubus (a close cousin of South Park's Mr Hat or Red Dwarf's Mr Flibble) Teddy is as bizarre and disturbing a character as any of the weirdos in The League of Gentlemen.

With so much attention being paid toward the passengers of the space cruiser, the main cast members of the previous instalment - Keating, Nicholas Courtney, Mark Preston and Sammie Winmill - are somewhat sidelined. Mydas and Cindy are unconscious for much of the story, although Keating (sounding like a cross between Leonard Rossiter's Rigsby and Kenny Everett) does feature in a flashback to the whirlwind romance of Mydas and Maureen. This sequence contains the best joke on the entire CD, when Mydas suggests that the pair of them slip back to his villa. "Yes," enthuses Maureen, "Your villa!"

Although this is a comedy drama, the drama aspect of the equation has not been overlooked, and genuine intrigue is generated by the many and various plot strands that twist and turn like twisty-turny things. It's a little early in the series to expect these loose threads to make much cohesive sense, but in the meantime the bawdy comedy should keep us amused.

Richard McGinlay