Review: Big Finish: The Paternoster Gang: Trespassers 1: Rogues Gallery

In the ever-expanding Doctor Who universe, the Paternoster Gang – Strax, Madame Vastra, and Jenny Flint – have always fascinated me. It always felt like there was more to tell, so much untapped potential. Well, after a long break from their audio series and nearly a decade away from our TV screens, it’s high time to catch up with these characters. This audio is a delightful return to their world.

The first episode, “The Ghost and the Potato Man,” sets the stage for an exciting adventure. Our trio finds themselves in a tangle of mysteries involving a vanishing magician’s act and some criminals. The plot expertly navigates the mystery of said criminals, who seem to vanish into thin air after their misdeeds. Adding a fresh twist to the group, fan-favourite, Ellie from the Jago & Litefoot series joins the gang.

Strax’s unexpected talent as an on-stage comedian is sure to have you in stitches, and there’s a heartwarming scene that deepens Jenny and Vastra’s relationship.

Rating: 8/10

Let’s talk about the core trio. Dan Starkey, who embodies Strax, seamlessly blends humour and warrior prowess into the character. He’s a standout in the quirky dynamics of the Paternoster Gang and makes Strax one of the most endearing figures in the Whovian world.

Neve McIntosh, known for her role as Madame Vastra, delivers a captivating performance that peels back the layers of her character. Her ability to convey Vastra’s complex personality, from her stoic exterior to her genuine affection for Jenny, enriches the story.

Catrin Stewart, who plays Jenny, infuses the character with an infectious energy, bringing her to life with authenticity. The chemistry between McIntosh and Stewart is palpable, making the Paternoster Gang’s dynamics even more engaging.

Throughout the series, McIntosh and Stewart play crucial roles in breathing life into the Paternoster Gang’s adventures, adding to the charm and authenticity of this beloved trio’s escapades.

In “Trespassers,” Dan Starkey takes on an additional role as the writer for the second story, “Symmetry of Death,” crafting a complex plot enriched with sci-fi elements. His ability to bring out Strax’s unique humour adds depth to the character, making him even more endearing.

In a series that heavily relies on character dynamics, Dan Starkey’s portrayal of Strax shines, contributing to the charm of the Paternoster Gang’s latest audio adventures. His impeccable comedic timing and unwavering commitment to the character deserve recognition.

In “Symmetry of Death,” the trio investigates a locked-room disappearance alongside a simultaneous murder. While there are moments that might feel a bit otherworldly, Neve McIntosh’s emotionally rich performance stands out.

Rating: 7/10

The final episode, “Till Death Us Do Part,” introduces Paul McGann’s 8th Doctor to the Paternoster Gang. Jenny’s determination to marry Vastra, despite her hesitation, takes them on an unexpected journey. The story is character-driven, especially for Jenny, offering a refreshing departure from the typical Victorian escapades, with a revelation that lingers.

“Trespassers” is an exciting comeback for the Paternoster Gang, with a deep dive into character development. While it might not convert those unimpressed by the trio, it undeniably hints at new possibilities.

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Paternoster Gang: Trespassers 1: Rogues Gallery is avaliable here

Review-Doctor Who: Once and Future: Time Lord Immemorial

In the first of this month’s two Once & Future releases, the intriguingly titled “Time Lord Immemorial,” Big Finish has taken an unconventional departure from tradition. They’ve chosen not to align the release with the anniversary month, a decision that adds an air of unpredictability to the narrative landscape.

The Once & Future series, known for its narrative complexity, reaches new heights of intricacy in this particular instalment. While the previous episode featuring the Tenth Doctor managed to seamlessly integrate into the overarching storyline, “Time Lord Immemorial” feels somewhat hastily placed between its predecessor and the series’ culminating conclusion. This haste is palpable, and what’s more confounding is that the stakes of the plot far exceed those of the overarching narrative. Yet, they are treated almost as a mere aside.

Our journey commences with the Ninth Doctor, portrayed by the talented Christopher Eccleston, aboard the TARDIS, diligently pursuing “The Union,” an enigmatic clue from the previous instalment. Surprisingly, this time around, we are spared the chaos of incarnation-changing. The Doctor’s realisation of inhabiting an unfamiliar body dawns on the listener only as the story unfolds.
Curiously absent are the hints of other Doctor voices that have become customary in this series. However, the narrative introduces another Doctor, the Unbound Doctor, essayed by the accomplished David Warner, whose origins extend beyond our familiar universe into the realm of alternate realities, as witnessed during the Bernice Summerfield stories.
The meeting of these two Doctors precipitates a thought-provoking debate on the intricacies of TARDIS interiors. Their discourse, however, is abruptly interrupted by a mysterious entity composed of sand, its cryptic utterances forebodingly whispering of the “Sands of Time.” In response, the Doctors resolve to pursue this enigmatic trail.

Simultaneously, on a tranquil beach, we find Liz Chenka, played by Nicola Walker, sharing a moment of relaxation with an unexpected companion – The Lumiat, portrayed by Gina McKee. For those not attuned to the latest Missy box sets, The Lumiat occupies a unique space in the hierarchy of The Master, residing between Missy and the Sacha Dhawan version. Unlike her predecessors and successors, The Lumiat leans towards the side of good. Yet, their peaceful respite is abruptly shattered as they fall prey to the same enigmatic sand creatures that have infiltrated the TARDIS.
Speaking of the TARDIS, it materialises in the grand hall of the “Time Lord Immemorial,” a mythical locale at the heart of the multiverse. Here resides an all-powerful Time Lord, a veritable deity. Moments later, Liv and The Lumiat emerge through the sand creatures, but the group is swiftly dispersed. The Doctor and The Lumiat find themselves in a corridor adorned with vivid murals, each one narrating facets of their own lives. It’s in this surreal setting that The Doctor confronts her true identity and grapples with the notion of embodying a Master incarnation.

Surprisingly, despite its grand scope and the looming cataclysm of the multiverse, the narrative pivots around conversations, with a conspicuous absence of formidable adversaries. A nursery rhyme prophecy, reminiscent of the style often attributed to Steven Moffat, simplifies the plot’s trajectory: the characters will ultimately reach their destination and save the day, as anticipated.

It’s obvious that “Time Lord Immemorial” was penned with haste, seemingly shoehorned in after the Once and Future storyline had been finalised. The potential of the Unbound Doctor and The Lumiat, both characters with intriguing dimensions, remains completely underutilised. The Unbound Doctor, a figure previously explored in the “Doctor Who Unbound” series, delves into “What If?” scenarios for the Doctors. The Lumiat made her debut in “Missy: The Lumiat” and was also featured in the multi-master narrative “Masterful.”

“Time Lord Immemorial” introduces a compelling premise of a collapsing multiverse, but channels it into a narrative where characters predominantly engage in dialogue. They are guided by a nursery rhyme prophecy, while the Once and Future narrative itself experiences limited progression.


Elizabeth Morton Interview

Join us for an exciting episode as we sit down with the talented writer and actress, Elizabeth Morton.

We dive into her latest book, “The Orphans from Liverpool Lane,” her career in audio dramas, and her fascinating life as the wife of Peter Davison, step-mother to Georgia Tennant, and mother-in-law to David Tennant.

Get ready for a casual and engaging conversation with Elizabeth Morton, where we explore her creative journey and the dynamics of her artistic family.

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Check out Abi’s production company ⁠TT Productions 23⁠. Toverton Podcast is ⁠here⁠.

Check out Chris’s ⁠Second Doctor audios.⁠

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Stephen Gallagher interview

Martyn is joined by acclaimed writer Stephen Gallagher to delve into his illustrious writing career. Stephen shares fascinating insights into his upcoming Doctor Who Target novelisation for Warriors Gate, providing an exciting glimpse into the world of the iconic Time Lord.

Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter.

Check out Abi’s production company ⁠TT Productions 23⁠. Toverton Podcast is ⁠here⁠.

Check out Chris’s ⁠Second Doctor audios.⁠

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Phil Ford interview

Join us as we delve into the creative mind of renowned writer Phil Ford. Known for his exceptional storytelling prowess, Ford has mesmerised audiences with his contributions to television, film, and literature. 
Martyn engages in a thought-provoking discussion with Ford, exploring the intricate facets of his writing journey and the inspiration behind his most beloved works. Unravel the secrets of his creative process as he shares anecdotes and insights into the art of crafting compelling narratives.

The Waters of Mars novelisation is out on 13th of July.

Check out Abi’s production company ⁠TT Productions 23⁠. Toverton Podcast is ⁠here⁠.

Check out Chris’s ⁠Second Doctor audios.⁠

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Big Finish Review-Doctor Who: Purity Unleashed

“Purity Unleashed,” the sequel to May’s “Water Worlds,” takes listeners on an exciting journey with the Sixth Doctor, Mel, and their new companion, Hebe Harrison. This Big Finish audio play consists of three distinct adventures that maintain a sense of unity throughout.

What sets this mini-series apart is its exploration of the recurring theme of purity. The villains encountered in these stories become obsessed with the concept, leading to engaging and thought-provoking adventures that delve into purity of the mind, body, and even in history.

“Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor Adventures: Purity Unleashed” lives up to the high standards set by its predecessors, offering a riveting storyline that will leave listeners begging for more. Like its predecessors, this series leaves us with an enticing cliffhanger.

The standout episode is Matthew Sweet’s “Broadway Belongs to Me!” which presents a refreshing and thought-provoking exploration of fascist themes within the context of musical theatre. Supported by Howard Carter’s exceptional score and Helen Goldwyn’s expert direction, the production reaches new heights of excellence.

Chris Chapman’s “Purification” takes us on a journey through time, starting in 1910 in New Zealand and spanning generations. This narrative gradually unravels the fabric of time itself, delving into the depths of the human psyche and will leave a profound impact on the audience.

Ian Potter’s “Time-Burst” transports us to 1864 Sheffield, skillfully exploring social inequity and calamity with sensitivity and nuance. Potter’s adept exploration of displacement, arrogance, and the intricate nature of fixed time creates a tale that deeply resonates with listeners.

Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford once again deliver exceptional performances, effortlessly embodying their respective roles as the Doctor and Mel. Their chemistry is evident through their charming banter and delightful humour, and Langford gets the chance to showcase her musical theatre roots, shining brightly in the process.

With “Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor Adventures: Purity Unleashed,” Big Finish continues to impress with their ability to craft compelling narratives. This series leaves audiences wanting more, eagerly anticipating the continuation currently scheduled for August.

With exceptional writing, performances, direction and sound design. This drama is a must-listen for all fans of Doctor Who.


Best Big Finish Doctor Who: A Must-Listen for Doctor Who Fans

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, then you’re likely aware of Big Finish Productions. This audio production company has been producing Doctor Who stories since 1999, featuring classic Doctors like Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and, Paul McCann. As well as newer Doctors like David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best Big Finish audios that every Doctor Who fan should listen to.

1. The Chimes of Midnight

If you’re looking for a classic Doctor Who story, then you can’t go wrong with “The Chimes of Midnight.” This Eighth Doctor audio adventure takes place on Christmas Eve in 1906 and features a creepy old mansion, mysterious servants, and a time loop that keeps repeating the same hour over and over again. It’s a great example of the kind of atmospheric storytelling that Big Finish Productions is known for.

2. Spare Parts

“Spare Parts” is a Fifth Doctor story that serves as a prequel to the classic Doctor Who episode “The Tenth Planet.” It tells the story of how the Cybermen came to be, and it’s a haunting and emotional tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished listening. It’s also worth noting that this story was an inspiration for the revival series episodes “The Age of steel” and “Rise of the Cybermen.”

3. The Holy Terror

“The Holy Terror” is a Sixth Doctor story that is equal parts hilarious and terrifying. It takes place on a planet called Világ, where the Doctor and his companion Frobisher encounter a cult that worships a giant penguin. Yes, you read that right. But don’t let the silliness fool you – this story has some genuinely creepy moments and a surprising amount of heart.

4. Masterful

If you’re a fan of the Master, then you’ll want to check out this box set of audio adventures. “Masterful” features nine different incarnations of the Doctor’s arch-nemesis, including Geoffrey Beevers (who played the decayed Master in the classic series), Eric Roberts (who played the Master in the Eighth Doctor TV Movie), John Simm and, Michelle Gomez (who played The Master and Missy in the modern era of the series). Each story is a standalone adventure, but they all tie together to form a larger narrative about the Master’s ultimate plan.

5. The War Master: Killing Time

Speaking of the Master, if you want to see what the character was up to during the Time War, then you need to listen to “The War Master” series. This box set features Derek Jacobi reprising his role as the Master (which he played in the revival series episode “Utopia”) and shows how he became involved in the Time War and what his ultimate goal was. It’s a dark and thrilling series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There you have it – five of the best Big Finish audios for Doctor Who fans. Of course, there are plenty more to choose from, so don’t be afraid to explore the vast library of stories that Big Finish Productions has to offer. Whether you’re a fan of classic Doctors or new ones, there’s something for everyone in the world of Doctor Who audios. Happy listening!

Big Finish Review-Torchwood: Thirst Trap

In the heart of Cardiff, a new dating app has taken the city by storm, offering users the chance to find their perfect match in just 20 minutes. But there’s a twist – once the time is up, they may never see their date again.

As more and more people try out the app, something strange begins to happen. Everyone seems to be going on the same dates, with the same activities, conversation topics, and even jokes. It’s almost as if the app is controlling their every move. Normally, Sgt. Andy Davidson would be the first to investigate, but he’s busy with his own date.

Torchwood has often been praised for its dark and gritty tone, exploring themes of loss, trauma, and alien invasion. However, this particular episode takes a different approach. It’s a lighthearted romp through the world of dating apps and the strange things that can happen when people put their trust in technology.

Despite the departure from the show’s usual tone, the actors still deliver standout performances. Tom Price and Kai Owen, who play Sgt. Andy Davidson and Rhys Williams respectively, are particularly impressive in their portrayal of two men caught up in a whirlwind of romantic comedy hijinks. Their chemistry is palpable, and their lightning-fast shifts from serious to lovesick are both hilarious and heartwarming.

The supporting cast also shines, with Natalia Hinds, Sunjay Midda, and Rebecca Trehearn each bringing their unique flair to their roles. Whether they’re playing matchmakers, hard-working council workers, or hapless police officers, they all add to the story’s infectious energy and sense of fun.

Tom Price, who also stars in the adventure, shows his versatility as a writer with a fluid and brilliant script that perfectly complements his acting skills. The writing captures the humorous and whimsical aspects of the story, while also exploring deeper themes of human connection and the perils of relying too heavily on technology.

David O’Mahony’s direction keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, while Blair Mowat’s music and Shane O’Byrne’s sound design help to create an engaging atmosphere.

Overall, this is a well-crafted and enjoyable story. A must-listen for any Torchwood fan looking for a fun 45-minute adventure.

Torchwood contains material, that may not be suitable for younger audiences.

Torchwood: Thirst Trap is available for purchase from Big Finish.


Why Jago & Litefoot is the best series Big Finish has ever produced

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who and haven’t yet heard Jago & Litefoot, then you’re in for a treat. This audio drama series, produced by Big Finish, is arguably the best series the company has ever created.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Jago & Litefoot follows the adventures of two characters from the classic Doctor Who story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”: Henry Gordon Jago (played by Christopher Benjamin) and Professor George Litefoot (played by Trevor Baxter). The series picks up after the events of that story, with Jago and Litefoot forming an unlikely partnership and setting up a detective agency in Victorian London.

One of the things that makes Jago & Litefoot stand out is its unique blend of genres. At its core, the series is a Victorian detective story, with Jago and Litefoot investigating all sorts of strange and unusual cases. But the writers aren’t content to stick to just one genre. Instead, they throw in elements of horror, science fiction, and adventure, creating a series that’s both exciting and unpredictable.

Take, for example, the episode “The Bloodless Soldier” from Series 1. In this episode, Jago and Litefoot are tasked with investigating a series of gruesome murders. However, the situation becomes even more perilous as an old foe reappears. As they pursue the Bloodless Soldier, Jago and Litefoot are met with tragedy that strikes perilously close to home.

The episode is a great example of the series’ ability to blend genres. It starts off as a detective story, with Jago and Litefoot interviewing witnesses and gathering clues. But as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that something supernatural is going on, and Jago and Litefoot find themselves facing off against a very real threat.

Another standout episode is “The Similarity Engine” from Series 1. It’s a sequel to the Mahogany Murderers and sees Jago and Litefoot investigate a strange machine that can create perfect duplicates of people. It’s a fascinating concept that leads to some great character moments as Jago and Litefoot both come face to face with their own doppelgangers.

What’s great about this episode is the way it uses science fiction to explore deeper themes. The idea of a machine that can create perfect copies of people raises all sorts of questions about identity and the nature of the self. And as Jago and Litefoot try to figure out who’s behind the machine, they’re forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about themselves.

But it’s not just the blending of genres that makes Jago & Litefoot so great. It’s also the chemistry between the two leads. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are both fantastic actors, and they play off each other brilliantly. Jago is bombastic and theatrical, while Litefoot is more reserved and intellectual. It’s a classic odd-couple dynamic, and it works perfectly.

And yet, even as Jago and Litefoot bicker and banter, there’s a real sense of warmth and friendship between them. They may be very different people, but they share a deep respect and affection for each other. It’s this relationship that really makes the series work, and it’s what kept fans coming back for more.

Of course, no series is perfect, and there are certainly episodes of Jago & Litefoot that are weaker than others. But even the weaker episodes are still a lot of fun. The writers have a real love for the characters and the world they’ve created, and that enthusiasm shines through in every episode.

It’s also worth noting that Jago & Litefoot has some truly fantastic supporting characters. There’s Leela (played by Louise Jameson), a former companion of the Fourth Doctor who becomes a regular in the later series. There’s also Inspector Quick (played by Conrad Asquith), a police officer who’s often at odds with Jago and Litefoot but who respects and admires them. There’s Ellie the immortal barmaid (played by Lisa Bowerman). And then there are the various villains and monsters that the duo encounter, from ghostly apparitions to mad scientists to creatures from other dimensions.

All of these elements come together to create a series that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking. Jago & Litefoot is a true gem, and it’s a testament to the creativity and talent of the writers, actors, and production team at Big Finish.

So, if you’re looking for a new audio drama to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend giving Jago & Litefoot a try. And to get you started, here are five standout episodes that are sure to hook you in:

“The Mahogany Murderers” Released as part of the companion chronicles range, this is the episode that started it all, and it’s a perfect introduction to the world of Jago & Litefoot. In this episode, we’re re-introduced to these characters and their wider surroundings.

“The Bellova Devil” (Series 1, Episode 2): A body is found on the Circle Line, wearing full dress uniform. It as identified as Reginald Colville – a man who was certified dead some six weeks ago! In an attempt to solve the mystery Jago and Litefoot become unwilling bodysnatchers… And thus begins a chain of events that will pit them against killer Bulgars and the mysterious machinations of the Far-Off Travellers Club..

“The Similarity Engine” (Series 1, Episode 4): As I mentioned before, this episode is a great example of how Jago & Litefoot can use science fiction to explore deeper themes. In this case, it’s the idea of identity and what makes us who we are. Plus, the scenes with Jago and his doppelganger are pure comedy gold.

“The Monstrous Menagerie” (Series 7, Episode 1): On the run, attempting to clear their names. Jago & Litefoot accept help from the mysterious Professor Dark. They also encounter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Tired of his most popular creation. Doyle has moved onto other works that he considers more worthy. Then enters Laura Lyons.

“Jago & Son” (Series 11, Episode 1): This episode sees Jago reunited with a man claiming to be his long-lost son, who has come to London to seek his fortune. It’s a touching story that explores the relationship between fathers and sons, and it’s a great showcase for Christopher Benjamin’s acting skills.

All of these episodes (and many more) are available to download from the Big Finish website. The first five series are available to stream on Spotify. I highly recommend giving them a listen. Jago & Litefoot is a series that’s full of surprises, and you never know what kind of adventure you’ll be embarking on next.

Big Finish review-The Eighth of March 3: Strange Chemistry

The third instalment of Big Finish’s “Eighth of March” series was unveiled on March 8th, 2023, coinciding with International Women’s Day. The album, titled “Strange Chemistry,” presents two stories that tackle different themes and ideas, albeit with less prominent female leads.

The first story, “Ghost of Alchemy,” features a captivating performance by Louise Jameson and centres around the historical figure of Marie Curie embarking on a perilous tour of the United States. However, the writing is heavy-handed in its efforts to incorporate women’s struggles into the narrative, often feeling forced and awkward. The villain is also a caricature of misogyny, making it hard to take him seriously.

On the other hand, the album’s main draw is Missy’s encounter with a young Amy Pond in “Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden.” This track is undoubtedly the standout of the album, filled with surprises and an engrossing listen. While Caitlin Blackwood’s teenage angst is relatable, Karissa Hamilton-scripted Bannis’s storyline is more tedious than necessary. The premise is also not fully explored, despite Michelle Gomez’s delightful and eccentric performance.

It’s worth noting that Helen Goldwyn’s direction on “Strange Chemistry” is still impeccable, even if the stories themselves are not quite up to par. Her direction brings out the best in the actors and helps create a rich soundscape that draws listeners in. Despite the flaws in the writing, Goldwyn’s direction keeps the album engaging and immersive.

Overall, “Strange Chemistry” is an improvement over last year’s lacklustre “Protectors of Time.” However, it still falls short of being a must-listen. It seems as if the entire range is an afterthought, which is a shame because these sets deserve better attention and effort.

The Eighth of March 3: Strange Chemistry is available for purchase from Big Finish.