The Space Gypsy Adventures
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The Space Gypsy Adventures are a set of sci-fi comedy stories created by Cumbrian broadcaster and cartoonist Terry Askew. They were first broadcast on British Hospital Radio in 1986 and featured as a cartoon strip in The West Cumberland Times and Star newspaper in 1987. A pilot story was also written and recorded for BBC Radio Cumbria in 1987, but was never broadcast owing to budgeting restrictions.
The stories follow the fortunes of two anthropomorphic foxes by the names of Gemma and Damien Mildury as they travel around in their space freighter, The Rapscallion, trying to find their parents against the backdrop of an intergalactic war between the Bitlexian Cluster and The Federal Alliance of Planets.
The two foxes find asylum on the neutral planet of Zenophon and are soon befriended by brother and sister Leah and Duke - two border collie dogs who run the spaceport next to the city of Drakester. From this safe haven Gemma and Damien set about carving out a living for themselves by buying and selling just about anything they can get their paws on, legitimately or otherwise.
The two foxes' dealings inevitably land them on the wrong side of the law where they invariably end up being chased by Detective Inspector Spiker (a large black alsatian dog) and Detective Constable Bones (a fox with a Galvert 6 (Welsh) accent).
The series went back into production in 2004 after a rest of some 17 years. The programme is wholly narrated by John Leeson, who is better known for being the voice of K-9, the robot dog in the BBC-tv sci-fi series Doctor Who.
Another character in the show Fluff Catt, a close friend of Gemma's, has recently ventured into a musical career under the guise of Fluff Catt and the Rock Kittens. The band is made up of Fluff and a few other members of the Space Gypsy cast. In reality the band is a bunch of session artists, with the main vocals sung by Mandy Leonard from UK cabaret band Impulse.
Since 2011 the series' lead character artist has been Mark Alexander Smith, known better among furries as Keeny Fox. Another member of staff who aids in the production of the series is Gerry Paquette. Gerry was an animator who worked on the 1980s Canadian TV cartoon The Raccoons.
The complete Space Gypsy series (2004–2010) is available to download from the Official Space Gypsy Adventures Facebook site.
List of Characters
Gemma Mildury is the main protagonist of the series. She and her kid brother Damien, were separated from their parents when they were imprisoned by the Federal Alliance Police for a crime they did not commit. In order to stay with Damien and protect him, Gemma lied about her age, pretending that she was still under 18, therefore avoiding being sold off by The Alliance at a bridal auction. Gemma's true age is never revealed during the radio serial, although it is hinted that she is around the age of 19 - 20. Damien's age is stated as being 8 years old in earlier episodes and 9 in the later stories.
During their escape from the prison colony on the planet Galvert 5, Gemma and Damien's freighter is shot down by The Alliance and crash lands on Galvert 3. Their distress signal is picked up by Duke Rosenly, a rather amiable young border collie who just happens to be passing by that way, returning home from a salvaging trip. Duke, along with his sister Leah, run and own a cafe and space vehicle dealership at the spaceport on the outskirts of the city of Drakester on the neutral planet of Zenophon. Gemma soon develops romantic feelings for Duke, and has inentions to marry him as soon as she can, but would like to find her parents first to gain their blessing.
Gemma and Damien are of the Mogavis clan of Space Gypsies. This consists mainly of foxes, but has a few wolves. All members of this clan have blue eyes and raccoon-like markings across their faces. They also have their own language, although Damien and Gemma spend most of the series speaking in Zenophonian - a language which is foreign to them, and results in the two foxes mispronouncing words such as 'us' as 'huz'.
Space Gypsies of the Mogavis clan have deeply held spiritual beliefs, although Damien and Gemma try their best not to impress these on those around them. The two foxes maintain a strict code of honour, with Gemma's Mogavis motto being, 'Do by others as you would wish them to do by you'. Gemma and Damien unfairly gain themselves a reputation as a pair of thieves, but in reality only steal from their oppressors. They would never take from their friends or benefactors. "When eating from the forepaw that's feeding thy gob, never be tempted to nibble on the fingers!" (Gemma).
Gemma and Damien's mode of transport also acts as their mobile home. It is a large Space Gypsy freighter named 'The Rapscallion'. The age of the freighter is not determined, although it is established that it has been handed down (or rather, 'pawed down', as the characters never refer to their forepaws as hands) from Damien and Gemma's grandfather to their father, and was probably handed down a few times before that. It is an ultra-modern machine, but the basic frame may well be over two hundred years old.
For recreation (and a little bit of pocket money) Gemma sings backing vocals and plays keytar in her friend Fluff Catt's band, 'The Rock Kittens'.
Damien Mildury is the secondary main protagonist of the series. He is a rather cheeky fox cub who loves to play pranks. Despite this, he is a good hearted little soul who is usually first in line whenever his sister or any of his friends need a helping forepaw.
In the absence of his parents, Damien has taken to referring to many of the adults close to him as either 'Uncle' or 'Auntie'. Despite not having his parents around, he always manages to stay cheerful and have as much fun as any normal fox cub. He tries to maintain an image as a rough and tough fox cub, even to the point where he adopts an alternative identity as Damien Dog Foxioli; the Cubfather (this is the author's comic take on Marlon Brando's character Don Vito Corleone in the movie The Godfather). However, despite his bravado, he sometimes falls victim to the feminine charms of one Jehlise Mossus, a cute pink female kitten he befriended while on one of his many adventures. The two become close friends, but Damien will never admit that Jehlise is his girlfriend, at least not out loud. Damien often makes a lot of friends even with some of the teachers at his school, Drakester Academy. Unlike his sister, Damien can sometimes be the cause of trouble. But, very much like his sister, he has the smarts to get out of sticky situations.
One of Damien's favourite pastimes is freighter spotting, an activity something akin to trainspotting. However, unlike trainspotting, Damien puts his hobby to good practical use. He uses the information he has collected to identify and check on the back history of various space vehicles and their owners - information which ties in with one of the many Space Gypsy Rules of Compliance; 'Know Your Customer Before You Trade.'
Damien's other hobby is playing drums in his friend's band 'Fluff Catt & The Rock Kittens'.
Fluff Catt is a very close friend of Gemma's, although in the original 1980's series they were fierce rivals. When the series was revived in 2004, the author decided that there would be more mileage in Gemma having a close ally in Fluff, rather than having them as enemies. Although technically speaking Fluff isn't a Space Gypsy, she has adopted many of their ways and beliefs and she wears a Space Gypsy bio-amulet, which was given to her by Gemma.
Fluff's home planet is Cattfelus, which was the peaceful Planet of The Cats until it was rudely invaded by The Alliance some six years ago. Fluff runs a shuttle transporting business, moving brand new space vehicles from the factories on Cattfelus to the dealerships on the outer lying planets in the Galvert System. On the surface her business is legitimate. However, Fluff hates The Alliance and so has no compunctions about aiding and abetting Gemma and Damien with their various nefarious schemes in order to get her own back for her people.
In the 2004 - 2007 series Fluff lives on board her shuttle transporter Fluff One. This is shot down and destroyed by The Alliance in the story 'The Christmas New Arrival'. From 2011 and onwards she resides on board her new transporter, ingeniously named 'Fluff Two'. Both freighters have a generic on-board computer called 'T.W.I.T.' When Gemma asks her why she calls the computer 'Twit' Fluff simply answers, "Because it is one!" The computer is somewhat cumbersome in its reply to certain inquiries, but the real reason for its name is it is an acronym of 'The Terminal of Waveline Interception and Transmission'.
In her spare time Fluff likes to ride around on her motorbike. She also performs in her own rock band 'Fluff Catt & The Rock Kittens'. With The Rock Kittens the author demonstrates his affection for Glam Rock and has based Fluff Catt's stage persona on that of Suzi Quatro.
Fluff's romantic interest is a fox called Meic Bones. Their affair is a rather dangerous liaison as Meic is a Detective Constable with The Federal Alliance.
Marmaduke 'Duke' Rosenly is one of the two border collie dogs who befriend Gemma and Damien. He runs the new and used space vehicles showroom at the spaceport outside the city of Drakester. He inherited the business when his father went into early retirement. Duke is a stellar mechanic, and earns part of his living by selling and repairing freighters and other space vehicles.
Duke's instinctual personal mannerism is to keep himself very much to himself - something which does not bode very well when he rescues Gemma from Galvert 3. She immediately takes a shine to him and sets out woo him, whatever the cost. Duke reluctantly likes Gemma too, but he is rather reserved in showing his feelings at first. As time goes on he opens out to her more and takes to Damien like a surrogate father.
Leah Dini is Duke's slightly older sister. She runs the cafe and coffee shop at Drakester spaceport. As with Duke and his vehicle dealership, Leah took charge of these businesses when her mother went into early retirement. In the later episodes she is married with a baby daughter to top Stellar One Radio DJ; Rekki G. Dini. Leah is very level headed and is a steadying influence both on her husband and on her brother, who can both act a little childishly at times.
Rekki G. Dini is the host of the flytime (Space Gypsy's equivalent to drive time) radio show on Stellar One, the Galvert System's Number One radio station. He is the husband of Leah and father to Leandra. In the original 80's series, Leah was married to a marmot called Randy, but Randy the marmot became Rekki the raccoon when the series was revamped in 2004. This was due equally to the fact that the author was involved with the promotion of The Raccoons animated series during the 1980s, and also because he enlisted the services of Gerry Paquette, one of The Raccoons original animation team to assist with storyline and character development.
Rekki is based squarely on the author himself, who has worked in radio since the early 1980s. The author himself freely admits that he is from the Smashie and Nicey school of radio presenting, and Rekki presents his programmes in very much the same way. Rekki prides himself as discovering the rock band, Fluff Catt and The Rock Kittens, which would not have been very difficult for him as he plays guitar and sings with them!
Leandra Dini is the baby daughter of Leah and Rekki. The name 'Leandra' in Mogavis means 'Leah's Child'.
Jehlise Mossus is Damien's love interest, although you would never get him to admit it. She is a little pink kitten who usually tries to kiss Damien at any given opportunity. Understandably, Damien is rather bashful towards this kind of behaviour, but he has been known to give in every now and then. Being a kitten, Jehlise is naturally curious, and often ends up joining Damien on his (mis) adventures.
Jehlise's father is an officer in the Bitlexian Peace Corps. He is on the front line, helping the Peace Corp to keep the invading Federal Alliance at bay. To date, Jehlise's father's name has not been revealed in the series, nor has he appeared in it.
Jehlise's mother is the beautiful ermine white lady cat, Felisky Mossus. Felisky has an air of High Society and mystery about her. Not very much has been revealed about her in the series, apart from the fact that she is very beautiful and has some influence in high places.
Jimmy DaWeasel was the first friendly face that Gemma encountered (although she didn't know it at the time) when she was incarcerated at the prison at Drondak. As his name suggests, Jimmy is a weasel, who Gemma didn't trust at first because it was a bunch of weasels who framed her family for the crime of carrying weapons.
It later transpires that Jimmy is secretly working for the Space Gypsies, helping them to free their friends and their families from the Federal Alliance labour camps. In later episodes Jimmy becomes a rather shady goods dealer, who is not averse to supplying both Fluff and Gemma with stolen goods. Later still, he becomes part of Fluff's rock group, playing guitar.
Detective Inspector Spiker and Detective Constable Bones are the main antagonists of the series. Spiker is an Alsatian (German Shepherd dog) and Bones is a fox with a hidden Space Gypsy heritage. Their job it is to hunt down criminals and bring them to justice.
Spiker and Bones are actually a nod towards the characters Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Sergeant George Carter in Thames Television's cop show The Sweeney and Detective Sergeant Albert Chisholm and Detective Constable 'Taff' Jones in, again, Thames Television's 'Minder (TV series)'. Spiker is a hard nosed copper, but it soon transpires that he has a secret admiration for Gemma and everything she stands for. The same can also be said for Gemma, who has many angry confrontations with Spiker, but has a secret soft spot for him too. As she once says to Damien, "Without Spiker, life would be boring."
Detective Constable Bones is Spiker's downtrodden sidekick. He is a fox who is distantly related to the Space Gypsy Mogavis clan. Very much to the chagrin of his commanding officer, he strikes up a romantic relationship with Fluff - a relationship which doesn't get off to the best of starts when Bones accidentally destroys Fluff's shuttle transporter!
Also under D.I. Spiker are D.C.'s Fusky, Souarster and Towser, all of which are foxes.
Alexander 'Alex' Collieham is a border collie dog like Duke and Leah. Born on Zenophon, but has some hidden Space Gypsy family traits. He first meets Damien and Gemma at Drondak like Jimmy does, though he instantly befriends Damien and later on Gemma. He soon sees himself as a big brother towards the two fugitive foxes and vows to help them out in anyway he can. He later also befriends Duke, Leah and everyone else at the spaceport and knows of Fluff as she was the one who sold him his shuttle.
Alex's mother works for an Alliance tycoon, while his father disappeared, around the same time the Alliance started its invasion plan. Alex works as a teacher at Damien's school, though he also works for the Alliance (on occasion) as a education consultant, while trying to help Gemma and Damien find their parents and stop the Alliance.
Alex is genuinely a very friendly guy, who would befriend anyone and everyone and rarely gets angry, even if he is the victim of some of Damien's pranks of which he takes with good humour.