“The Black Knight,” a captivating audio production crafted by the talented writer Lizbeth Myles, takes listeners on a thrilling and thought-provoking journey. This audacious narrative ventures into the uncharted territory of British history, melding it with elements of science fiction and social commentary. Myles skillfully navigates the storyline, delving into the prevalent sexism of the era while concocting a tale filled with conspiracies, moral dilemmas, and devastating consequences reminiscent of the beloved series Torchwood.
The story unfolds against the backdrop of Britain’s fledgling space program, a period that aligns with the existence of Torchwood Soho. Here, we encounter the indomitable Professor Lynne Sharman, portrayed with unwavering conviction by the talented Safiyya Ingar. Lynne, a brilliant scientist reminiscent of the trailblazing women of Doctor Who’s late ’60s and early ’70s episodes, finds herself trapped in a world dominated by pompous and outrageously sexist men. They dismiss her groundbreaking rocket science and discourage her involvement in the realm of scientific discovery.
At the heart of this male-dominated landscape stands Sir Christopher Grey, impeccably brought to life by Russel Bentley’s performance, oozing condescension with every swig of port and puff of cigar smoke. As the gatekeeper of funding and government support for ambitious projects like Lynne’s Viola rocket, Grey embodies the epitome of sexism and bureaucracy. His resistance to Lynne’s aspirations adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, a battle not only against gender bias but against the mysteries and failures of the Viola itself.
The Viola, Lynne’s brainchild, possesses a troubled history. Previous unmanned launches have met fiery ends, just as they were about to escape Earth’s magnetosphere. Faced with mounting pressure and the impending abandonment of her project, Lynne seizes her last chance to prove herself by proposing a manned mission. Enter Freddie Talbot, a close friend of Lynne’s and a man seemingly possessed of the right qualities for the task at hand. Their fates intertwine as Lynne’s relentless pursuit of scientific truth collides with the enigmatic forces thwarting her rocketry dreams.
In a stunning and all-too-brief scene, Lizbeth Myles and Safiyya Ingar offer a character study of Lynne that is both powerful and nuanced. Lynne emerges as a brilliant scientist, guided not by ego but by a deep understanding of her craft. Her unyielding dedication to the pursuit of knowledge leads her to consider the possibility of external factors influencing her research, delving into the realm of real-world conspiracy theories. It is this scientific curiosity and open-mindedness that sets her apart, propelling the narrative forward as she unearths a shocking revelation.
“The Black Knight,” a term Lynne assigns to a mysterious asteroid, unveils a grand cosmic conspiracy. Lynne posits that this celestial entity, positioned as a cosmic sentinel, actively impedes humanity’s journey beyond the confines of Earth. Her discovery raises questions about our place in the universe and the delicate balance between protection and isolation. Is this alien presence safeguarding us from unknown perils, or are they safeguarding the universe from us? The audaciousness of these inquiries drives the plot to thrilling heights, with Lizbeth Myles expertly crafting a tapestry of intrigue, suspense, and awe-inspiring exploration.
Alongside the riveting narrative, “The Black Knight” boasts exceptional performances from its cast. Safiyya Ingar breathes life into the formidable Professor Lynne Sharman, infusing her with intelligence, resilience, and an unwavering determination to challenge the status quo. Samuel Barnett and Jacob Dudman bring their considerable talents to bear as Norton Folgate and Freddie Talbot.
Torchwood: The Black Knight is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until 31 May 2022, and on general sale after this date.