Torchwood: The Green Life

At first it seems like Captain Jack Harkness, leader of the ‘beyond the police’ Torchwood organisation and time-travelling Doctor Who companion turned eco-warrior Jo Jones (née Grant) would be quite a contrast when paired. But in ‘Torchwood: The Green Life’ the two are bound as much by what they share as what divides them.

Jo, in this story, is decades older than the girl who once travelled with The Doctor. Everything she learned from her time with UNIT is sewn into this Jo of today and much more besides. This woman is a good match for the immortal Jack, whose dashing young appearance only partially conceals how much of his strength is devoted to enduring a string of painful deaths and centuries. Big Finish audio dramas never shy from the role appearances play in stories when it’s relevant: here we have a pair of lovely fan favourites set amid some gruesome situations.

We’re back in Llanfairfach, the Welsh locale of the 1970s Doctor Who serial, The Green Death. The story then – of pollution-bred giant maggots and a technically-adept evil corporation – continues here. As Jack and Jo clamber over old territory we learn new things about them both.

Katy Manning has kindly returned to play Jo now and again in the past couple of decades – in television and in audio – and each time we get a hint or two about the character’s life since the 1970s. Here there’s quite a bit of her back story, particularly with regards to Llanfairfach. It’s a treat to hear the world of Jo Jones expanding into a mini-franchise of its own.

John Barrowman has been equally generous in his support, for the Torchwood franchise and for the ‘Whoniverse’ in general. He continues his regular contributions to Torchwood on audio here, with a bit of a new challenge: the gentlest members of Jack’s team were never as ‘right on’ as lovely Ms Jones. In Jack’s world, he and his go to some rather harsh extremes, they take their lumps and then find some way to make peace with themselves afterwards. Jo presents him with a world where there are certain lines that are simply not crossed. Where right and wrong don’t often intermingle. Where loyalty is everything.

The legacy elements of this story are taken in genuinely new directions. We get some detail about how the scientific advances of the 70’s Wholeweal community have developed in the years since. We learn a bit more about Llanfairfach as a population centre and its lifestyle in 2019. And we’re presented with something new that has gone very, very wrong. It’ll certainly inform a listener’s first real-world glimpse of a self-driving lorry.

Torchwood: The Green Life is available now from the recently-redesigned Big Finish website.

Billie Piper gets Big Finish spin-off

Billie Piper is returning to the Doctor Who universe in Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon, a new audio series made in association with BBC Studios.

It follows Rose’s journey through dying parallel worlds, and also stars Camille Coduri as Rose’s mum Jackie, Shaun Dingwall as her dad Pete, Mark Benton (Legend!!) as alien investigator Clive Finch and Elli Garnett as Caroline Finch.

The four episodes follow Rose’s mission to seek out the Doctor, the only person who can save the doomed multiverse.

Picture credit-Big Finish

Billie Piper said:

“I love how normal Rose is, and yet really extraordinary. She lived a normal average life but she is incredibly curious and has an enormous capacity for love and empathy and is really spirited. She is extraordinary.”

The four new adventures are:
1.1 The Endless Night by Jonathan Morris
1.2 The Flood by Lisa McMullin
1.3 Ghost Machines by AK Benedict
1.4 The Last Party on Earth by Matt Fitton

From the worlds of Doctor Who, Rose Tyler – The Dimension Cannon will be released in September 2019, available for pre-order now on CD at £25 on CD and £20 on download.

Big Finish review-The Siege of Big Ben

Jackie Tyler has everything she’s ever wanted: a loving husband and two children. But a terrible, far-reaching plan is underway, and only Jackie and a single friend stand in the way of it.

But the Doctor isn’t the man he was…

The Siege of Big Ben is a highly anticipated release. Ever since we left the Tylers and the meta-crisis tenth Doctor at the end of series 4, (10 years ago!) fans have wondered what happened next. Thankfully, Big Finish has given us some answers with this release.

This can’t have been an easy thing to write. Not only did Joe Lidster have to tell a gripping story that lives up to the fans expectations. He had to re-introduce us to the parallel Earth, or “Pete’s world”.

A base under siege scenario is a stablemate for Doctor Who. But Lidster manages to beautifully subvert what could be a repetitive format and turn it into a glorious character piece.

The script draws parallels between The Doctor being more human, and the human, being more like The Doctor we know and love. Having Jackie be the most Doctor-like character in the story adds an interesting dynamic.

The script is sharp, the direction is smooth and David Roocroft’s sound design is inspired. All in all, The Siege of Big Ben is a story about love, loss and the difficulties that come with moving on. You feel all of these things whilst listening. Camille Coduri oozes charm and instantly reminds you, why we all love Jackie Tyler.

This world is waiting for further exploration and I hope, this leads to some full-cast adventures.

10/10.

The Siege of Big Ben can be purchased here.

Big Finish review-Torchwood: Goodbye Piccadilly

Sgt Andy Davidson wakes up in the 1950s. He’s chained to a bed, his clothes are missing and the building’s on fire. Norton Folgate needs his help. The streets of Soho are swarming with gangsters, rumours and betrayals. Somewhere out there is a mysterious alien artefact, and Andy and Norton have to get to it first. Because tonight they’re going to save Torchwood.

I’ve been looking forward to another adventure with Andy and Norton, since last year’s Ghost Mission. There’s just something about this pairing that works so well.

Goodbye Piccadilly is absolutely gripping, from start to finish, the script is sensational. The direction is smooth, the sound design is flawless. Tom Price, Samuel Barnett and the supporting cast all give pitch-perfect performances.

What’s great about this audio, is that all of the London events-bar the alien invasion and the time travel, are real.

James Goss took his research for this story extremely seriously, he looked at books such as ‘hidden London’ for inspiration and it shows. The life drawing class, the police raids and, gay men being hosed down are all things that actually happened in the 1950’s.

Big Finish has once again proved that Torchwood Big Finish, is Torchwood at its best.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.

REVIEW: BIG FINISH: JENNY — THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER

She’s got planets to save, civilisations to rescue, creatures to defeat… and an awful lot of running to do!

It’s difficult to believe the character of Jenny debuted in Doctor Who 10 years ago. Since then fans have wondered whatever happened to The Doctor’s daughter?

The character was rife for further exploration and it’s amazing the BBC never thought to bring her back.

Thankfully, we have Big Finish. They’ve taken the character and given her a range of her own.

The scripts are sharp, funny and perfectly honed. A lot of work and love has clearly gone into this box set. The stories are kinetic and full of real world allegories; which in lesser hands could’ve come across as clunky.

Georgia Tennant and Sean Biggerstaff have an instant chemistry as Jenny and Noah. A personal highlight, is the fact that they allow Jenny to be fun. She makes jokes, which work well and relives tension in scenes. The mystery surrounding Noah is intriguing and you finish the audios with even more questions about him.

Big Finish have done it again. The Doctor’s daughter is fantastic, a breath of fresh air. The theme music is epic. familiar but different. It perfectly encapsulates the Doctor’s nature in Jenny. The stories and the cast are engaging. The sound design is flawless.

Jenny-The Doctor’s daughter is firing on all cylinders. A perfect synergy between cast and crew. I’m practically begging for series 2.

Written By: Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Christian Brassington, Adrian Poynton

Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

Cast

Georgia Tennant (Jenny), Sean Biggerstaff (Noah), Siân Phillips (COLT-5000), Stuart Milligan (Garundel), Sarah Woodward (Vesh Taralesh), Clare Corbett (Lukaku), Arabella Weir (Angie Glazebrook), Silas Carson (Ood Leader), Rosalyn Landor (Vanessa Elledge), Olivia Darnley (Emily Cole), John Dorney (John Macguire), Pik-Sen Lim (Old Woman), Arina II (Shoon-Wei), Sara Houghton (Alitta), Paul Courtenay Hyu (Po), Adèle Anderson (Dreyda), Anthony Calf (Cal). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: David Richardson
Associate Producer:Georgia Tennant
Script Editor:John Dorney, Matt Fitton
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

REVIEW: Star Trek in concert

As part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Films in Concert, two showings of Star Trek were shown over the weekend. Saturday showed 2009’s Star Trek. Sunday showed Star Trek:Beyond.

Both screenings were accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and conducted by Ernst van Tiel.

We attended the Saturday event.

Image credit-Penny Smallshire

I’ve attended concerts like this at The Royal Albert Hall, many times. But some how each time feels like the first.

For those who are unfamiliar with these concerts, the films are played on a suspended screen, above the musicians. The dialogue is intact, with the Orchestra performing the soundtrack and sound effects live.

Not only are these amazing musicians a sight to behold on stage, but the evening provided a phenomenal audio experience that no Blu-Ray can possibly live up to.

My personal highlight of the evening was the Orchestras performance of the Star Trek theme, over Leonard Nimoy’s “space the final frontier” speech. They received a seven minute standing ovation for this.

http://badwilf.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/trim_8edfaf01-2d0c-47e1-b4dd-cdd8ec012772.mov

What I took away from this event, is just how beautiful and timeless Gene Roddenberry’s vision is. This is an experience I will cherish for a life time.

I highly recommend attending one of these screenings. Click here to find out information about the next one.

Big Finish review-Torchwood: We always get out alive

Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams are on the run from a cataclysm. They’re the only survivors, and they’re driving away from the disaster as fast as they can. They’ve got to get away, they’ve got to warn the authorities, and they just can’t be late for the babysitter, again.

Dim problem. After all, they’re Torchwood and they always get out alive. But this time there’s something in the car with them. Isn’t there?

This is actually a difficult audio to review, it’s an absolute joy to listen to. But, I really don’t want to reveal too much about the storyline.

We always get out alive, is another example of perfect synergy between writer and director.

Guy Adams and Scott Handcock have crafted an imaginative story, which in lesser hands could’ve been very boring. 98% of it is just Rhys and Gwen sitting in a car, but it’s gripping and epic-but at the same time keeping it a small, intimate story.

This is strong character driven piece, in which we get to know more about Gwen and Rhys’ family life.

Guy Adams truly delivers here, he uses the natural chemistry between Eve Myles and Kai Owen, the constrictive nature of being in a car and, the medium of audio, to the stories full advantage.

Once more the monthly Torchwood range delivers, this is a must-listen.

10/10.

Big Finish Review-Torchwood:Believe

The Church of the Outsiders believe that mankind is about to evolve, to reach out into the stars. Owen Harper believes that Torchwood has to do whatever it takes to stop them.

Ever since Big Finish obtained the licence to Torchwood, fans have wanted the original team in a full-cast audio and now, we have it. Sort of.

The full team are indeed back together, However the actors recorded their parts separately. For instance, John Barrowman lives in Palm Springs, California, so he recorded his side in America.

But, you can’t tell. It’s flawless. Your ears and your brains will fully believe the team are united and, it’s joyous.

Set someone before the end of series 2; Guy Adams perfectly manages to encapsulate that era. There were moments where I believed I was listening to a previously unreleased episode from 2008.

John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori and Gareth David-Lloyd all shine here. Each character gets a decent amount of time to develop, but I think my personal highlight is the Owen/Tosh relationship. Owen makes Tosh do unspeakable things, all whilst trying to prove he can lead a mission.

Prequel stories are notoriously difficult, there can’t be anything in the way of peril, for the original characters-we know their fate and, anyone new is likely to die, as they’re never mentioned in the main series.

However, such is the quality Guy Adams’ script and the performance of Gareth David-Lloyd, there was one moment in particular when I was genuinely concerned for Ianto.

2018 is shaping up to be a great year for Torchwood on audio. 10/10.

Written By: Guy Adams

Directed By: Scott Handcock

Cast

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Burn Gorman (Owen Harper), Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato), Mac McDonald (Steve Ross), Lois Meleri Jones (Andromeda), Mali Harries (Val Ross), Arthur Darvill (Frank Layton), Rhian Blundell (Erin), Chris Rankin (Val’s Assistant), Lloyd Meredith (Davey Russell), Jennifer Sims (Grey), Aled ap Steffan (Grey). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.

Producer James Goss

Script Editor Steve Tribe

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

REVIEW:BIG FINISH-Torchwood-The Last Beacon

In Torchwood: The Last Beacon. A signal in a Welsh mountain is calling an ancient battlefleet to Earth. Owen Harper and Ianto Jones head up into the Brecons to stop it.

This story is lighter in tone, than most of the Torchwood stories, in the Big Finnish range. It’s also probably the funniest. This is a buddy comedy. The pairing of Owen and Ianto is an inspired idea. The story pits them against each other, they’re in a small Welsh community-Ianto is in his element. These are his people, whilst Owen is a fish out of water, the locals take an instant distrust to him. Having Owen on the ropes, allows for some deeper character exploration for this mis-matched pair.

Torchwood on Big Finish, is Torchwood at its best and The Last Beacon is quintessentially Big Finish Torchwood. This is a fun story, which further develops the relationship of its leads. It’s difficult to believe this is Gareth David-Lloyd’s first foray into writing an audio play, the story flows like it’s written by a seasoned pro. Let’s hope he writes another. Highly recommended.

Review-Torchwood: The Death of Captain Jack

Torchwood: The Death of Captain Jack is difficult to review, without spoiling. So, I won’t be discussing the storyline.

This is an ambitious audio, from David Llewellyn who once again proves himself to be one of the greatest writers Torchwood has ever had. He perfectly manages to encapsulate the history of Jack and John and give the Torchwood franchise a fresh new spin, all within an hour-long adventure. It’s an absolute joy. James Marsters absolutely shines as Captain John Hart and, instantly reminds us why he was so popular amongst Torchwood fans. He’s the perfect foil to John Barrowman’s Captain Jack.

There’s also a slight dig at Torchwood:Miracle Day.

Director Scott Handcock and producer James Goss have their awesomely unique style all over this release. Torchwood on Big Finish, is the best Torchwood has ever been. They just get it, it’s ambitious, it’s loud, it’s sexy and over the top. Which is just how it should be.

10/10.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.