AT-A-GLANCE GUIDE TO PIVOTAL PLOT POINTS

EPISODE NOUGHT: A NEW SOAP

Setting:
A corridor in a student accommodation block in the University of York, UK, 1998.

Note: Much of Episode Nought was added later, so as to provide a better start to the soap.

0:03 - Barnie is Killed
The bloody and mutilated corpse of the corridor's cleaning lady, BARNIE NIELSEN, is found in the lift.

0:10 - The Explosion
BABYSHAM is pitched in a laser battle with LEON PROTZNEDVIC, and ECONOMICS is strapped up as a suicide bomb. Amidst the chaos, MIDGE WAINWRIGHT flicks an anonymous switch on the kitchen wall, and everything is engulfed in a fireball.

EPISODE ONE: THE CRYSTAL OF ENDERON

Setting:
Predominantly set in a futuristic anti-matter dimension.

Note: This episode was built up from a series of e-mails, and is lacking somewhat in finesse, comprehensibility and stage direction. There's perhaps a few too many in-jokes, too.

1:01 - Reanimation
Most of the students are brought back to life by secret government organisation MI7.

1:08 - Chris and Craig Meet
CHRIS CARTWRIGHT and CRAIG BRANWELL, we are told, are regenerations of James Bond whose polar values are opposed. When they meet in Vienna in 1998, they cause a tear in time and space, and somehow, JIM BARRETT, LEON PROTZNEDVIC, ALEX JEFFERSON and STEW JESTER are sucked through this tear, as are one or two other cast members.

1:21 - Omra Grooms Jim
OMRA teaches JIM BARRETT in the ways of the Power of Greyskull and explains that Jim's destiny lies in destroying SIDDOR.

EPISODE TWO: THE SEARCH FOR TOSH

Setting:
Predominantly set in a curious television reality, including Heaven.

Note: This episode suffers from many of the same problems as the last one.

2:04 - The Monkey Limb
ALEX JEFFERSON finds a monkey limb which grants three wishes. As a consequence, JIM BARRETT, ALEX JEFFERSON and STEW JESTER find themselves safely back home, with SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR for company.

2:14 - Trapped Inside the Television
The students learn that they've become so engrossed in "Sunset Beach" and "Buffy" that they've literally got sucked in to the telly.

2:26 - The Retune
The viewer becomes disinterested and starts flicking through channels, causing the students a degree of chaos. But out of this chaos, they find a way home in the form of a Cross Dimensional Portal. Unfortunately, they are attacked by various unpleasant things. MIDGE WAINWRIGHT is killed, JIM BARRETT is forced to regenerate, and ALEX JEFFERSON is lost in the static of an untuned set.

EPISODE THREE: FRED HARRIS

Setting:
Still in the telly.

Note: Once this episode kicks in, it is, I think, something of an improvement on the previous two, if only because the in-jokes are running out. Still, it doesn't make a great deal of sense without an understanding of '80s childrens' television.

3:02 - The Twelve Tasks
The students make a deal with ROD OF MAYGAR and JANE OF ALGOR to help them complete twelve tasks in exchange for help finding ALEX JEFFERSON. The deal turns out to be a bit rubbish for the students.

3:11 - Chock-a-Block
The students help the Nordic Gods locate Fred Harris, but it is an evil doppelganger who entrances the collective with his mesmerising Chock-a-Block. The students end up gibbering, dribbling wrecks, glued to the video-screen. Fortunately they are rescued by the Good Fred Harris who opens a portal that will transport them back home.

EPISODE FOUR: THE CARIBBEAN SPECIAL

Setting:
The high seas of the Caribbean.

Note: This episode is a birthday present for BABYSHAM, and takes place in a dead-end reality that is not directly connected to the main story-arc. It mirrors the trend for straight-to-video soap storylines that were curiously popular at the time.

EPISODE FIVE: THE PREQUEL

Setting:
"A long time ago in a Driffield council estate..."

Note: This episode is another curio. In it, the cast play characters from the Enderon mythology, which makes up a sort of back-story to the soap. For instance, Ewan McGregor (STEW JESTER) plays OMRA, and Frank Skinner (JIM BARRETT) plays SIDDOR. A more worthwhile read than Ep4.

EPISODE SIX: JIM v SIDDOR

Setting:
York, 1999.

Note: This episode is much more character driven, which is an improvement. There's still too many Star Wars gags, but it's getting better. Essentially, things are building up to the final showdown between JIM BARRETT and SIDDOR.

6:01 - Alex Kills Stew
ALEX JEFFERSON kills STEW JESTER for being a demon. At the funeral, GOD leaves his daughter SALLY with the students to keep her out of his way.

6:13 - Caroline Gives Birth
CAROLINE BURNHOLM gives birth to PERCY THE PINEAPPLE.

EPISODE SEVEN: THE FINAL EPISODE

Setting:
York and Hell.

Note: Back in the e-mail days, this was a feature-length final episode. It's now the shortest, thanks to the re-jigging of everything. A lot of the first half of this is just past cast-members performing sketches at an end-of-series variety show. Threaded through is the final confrontation with SIDDOR. The second half is a string of trailers for the next episode. As a result, this isn't a very cohesive episode. It's really just a string of sketches.

7:17 - The Final Confrontation with Siddor
Determined to defeat SIDDOR, the students end up getting killed by him. The one exception is LEON PROTZNEDVIC, who kills Siddor. Following their deaths, the students are given cushy spots in Hell by their late colleague STEW JESTER.

EPISODE EIGHT: TWELVE NAUGHTY GEESE

Setting:
York, 2000.

Note: This was the first episode to be conceived of as a 1½hr unit, as opposed to a string of e-mails. But it lacks a certain something and is badly paced.

8:08 - The Goose Crisis
Geese are holding the Earth to ransom. Unless they are given control of the Earth, they will blow it up (this will also destroy Heaven and Hell). MI7 arrange for the students to be released from Hell (albeit with a chaperone) in order to defeat the geese and save the world.

8:26 - The Barbican Crush
ALAN QUINN finds himself in a goose worshiping cult ritual, during which a throng of people are quite deliberately crushed by the hoistable seating in the Barbican Theatre (which turns out to be a space-ship). The conductors of this ritual are revealed to be MI7.

8:30 - The Central Hall Double-Crosses
ALAN QUINN, determined to maintain his freedom from Hell, kills some cast members. Then the geese double-cross MI7, and after a big fight, the Earth blows up and everyone gets splattered across space. For a more thorough analysis of the events in Ep8, see here.

EPISODE NINE: TARDIS DOWN

Setting:
The Stargate, The Barbican and Planet F34.

Note: This was the most considered episode of ANS to date, and tries to recapture some of the mood of the original run, but with a good deal more competence. It struggles to break free of the quagmire of time-travel, and just about manages it.

9:12 - The Barbican Crush Mk.2
JIM BARRETT regenerates and travels back in time to set right the events of last episode. This time, things go a little better, but the rigged up seating eventually collapses, and the crowd once again gets squished. The Earth gets blown up again, too, but at least the students and MI7 escape.

9:19 - Planet F34 Detente
The party visit Planet F34 in search of women, but only find a future JIM BARRETT and a working Tardis. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR sees the opportunity to take the dead students back to Hell where they belong, but goes a bit barmy in the process. After shooting ALEX JEFFERSON in the stomach, she is pacified by LEON PROTZNEDVIC's shovel.

"BABYSHAM" SPIN-OFF SERIES

Setting:
a Hellish Sheffield.

Note: "Babysham" takes ANS up a gear with a complicated plot that starts off prosaic and builds up into something monsterous. It was the best of the series so far.

Babysham 6 - The Assasination of God
The "Babysham" series concludes with a complicated assassination plot in which LEON PROTZNEDVIC kills GOD, BHUVANA and Satan before ascending in a flying saucer. The exact allegiances involved in the plot are hard to pin down, but JIM BARRETT seems to be involved in one way or another, as are many other ANS characters.

EPISODE TEN: ANSX

Setting:
a Hellish Sheffield, Heaven, York/Palestine.

Note: Following on from the events of "Babysham", this is the most complicated narrative so far, executed in quartered split-screen, with very little dialogue. A simplified version takes the form of three "Gospels" and "The Passion of Stew". While Episode 9 tried to avoid time travel, ANSX embraces it to the extreme to create a confusion of intertwining apocalyptic set-pieces.

Gospel of Alex: The Heavenly Coup
It's hard to know with absolute certainty what events in ANSX are truly significant, but this one surely is: GABRIEL enacts the overthrow of the Heavenly Council in order to secure total dominion over Heaven.

Gospel of Alex: Babysham kills Stew
Not the easiest scene to explain cold, but let's try: A time anomaly has led to two BABYSHAMs being present in the police station. One has been activated, by JOHN, as one of the Guardians of the Godly Throne. He reaches STEW to inform him of the coup and deliver him to power in Heaven. But the other BABYSHAM has been programmed by MI7 and has orders to prevent STEW's ascension at any cost.

Gospel of James: The Hell Tardis is Repaired
The Tardis that controls Hell has been activated, but it is missing the part that allows it to move. So it is just shaking Hell apart. Enter SIDDOR to save the day, clutching a spare part that we've seen before: the Crystal of Enderon. He replaces the crystal in the Tardis console and Hell dematerialises safely.

Gospel of Alex: Stew is Rescued
With the Stargate still open, there is an opportunity to rescue STEW and negotiate a smooth transition of power to INANNA and OMRA.

Gospel of Leon: Babysham's Explanation
Perhaps the most important sequence in ANSX regards to our understanding of events: BABYSHAM delivers a power-point presentation on the key developments over the course of this episode.