Episode 206: Doctor Who spin-off’s

Joining Martyn this week is Chris Walker-Thomson. The pair discuss Doctor Who spin-off’s, ones that have been and ones they would like to see.

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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.

Trailer-Torchwood: God among us volume 2

Big Finish has released the story details, cover art and trailer of the sixth series of Torchwood: God Among Us 2.

Norton Folgate rejoins Torchwood, Andy and Yvonne get very close indeed, and the world is truly going to hell…

Norton Folgate’s come from the 1950s to warn Torchwood it’s the end of the world. He might have a point – there’s an alien god wandering the city, and a sinister force manipulating events behind the scenes. Where are all the homeless people going? And why doesn’t it stop raining?

1. Flight 405 by Lou Morgan

Flight 405 went missing over 60 years ago, but tonight the plane finally lands. Norton Folgate is a Torchwood agent from the 1950s and he swears Flight 405 contains the secret to the end of the world, but can Torchwood trust him?

2. Hostile Environment by Ash Darby

An app’s been launched that allows you to tag the homeless. People think they’re doing a good thing and helping out. It does seem a remarkable success. After all, since it’s launched, there are a lot less homeless people on the streets – so it must be doing some good, mustn’t it?

3. Another Man’s Shoes by Tim Foley

Yvonne wakes up in Andy’s body – and both have difficult days ahead of them.
Meanwhile, Norton’s making himself very much at home in Tyler’s body, much to Tyler’s alarm, and Ng is worried she knows what’s going on.
Someone’s playing a terrible trick on Torchwood. But who will win?

4. Eye of the Storm by David Llewellyn

An alien power station is sending out waves of lethal energy, people are turning to stone and the water levels are rising. As Torchwood set out on a desperate mission, god takes tea with someone who has been playing a very long game. Has the time come for Norton Folgate to save the world?

James Marsters returns to Big Finish

James Marsters, the star of cult television shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and, Angel. Is set to reprise his role as Captain John Hart, in a series of his own adventures in the Torchwood audio universe.

The rambunctious, deadly and ever-so charming captain will be back at the helm in a new four-story box set, The Sins of Captain John, created by Big Finish Productions in association with BBC Studios.

Captain John Hart made his audio debut in The Death of Captain Jack, released in March 2018. In this story he killed the entire Torchwood team – including John Barrowman’s supposedly immortal Captain Jack Harkness.

He also married Queen Victoria and had no less than three ‘relationships’ with characters from history. Who knows what he’ll get up to in this next box set of adventures!

James Marsters said:

“Doing The Death of Captain Jack was incredible! I have missed doing Torchwood so much. Beyond being proud of playing a part in it, the character itself is a blast to play, and those two episodes just weren’t enough.”

Set for release in January 2020, The Sins of Captain John will see Captain John Hart leading the universe into rack and ruin in four new adventures…

The Restored
Escape from Nebazz
Peach Blossom Heights
Darker Purposes

In these stories we’ll find the villainous anti-hero thriving in Restoration London, exploring gas planets, playing ‘Stepford wife’ and kissing (then killing) countless victims… Just a day in the life of a rogue Time Agent!

Writer, David Llewellyn added:

“Writing The Death of Captain Jack was a total blast, and both James Goss (producer of the Torchwood range) and I realised we could have a lot more fun with Captain John Hart, providing James Marsters was happy to return. Captain John is this chaotic, disruptive, insubordinate force of nature; completely amoral and unpredictable, so that gave me a lot of freedom! Writing is often a case of knowing when to hold back, when to tread a more subtle line, but with Captain John it’s the complete opposite. And setting it before Torchwood on television meant we were able to go to places where Torchwood can’t.”

Torchwood fans will also find answers to some of the questions and plot points that have so far been left hanging from the beginning of the television show. More details on this in the future…

5 potential Doctor Who spin-offs

The BBC have tried multiple times over the years to launch a long running spin-off to Doctor Who, each of these have had varying degrees of success. For every Torchwood, there’s a Class. For every K-9 and company, there’s a Sarah Jane Adventures.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’ve been predicting for a while that the BBC will launch a new Doctor Who spin-off, within the next 5 years.

Well, a source within the BBC has told me the organisation is in fact looking to make “a sci-fi show, set within an established universe”. No, I won’t tell you who. Yes, I understand how cryptic and frustrating “a source” can be to read. Logically speaking, that “established universe” can only be Doctor Who. The BBC doesn’t really have any other sci-fi shows and with the success of series 11, it would make sense to capitalise soon.



I don’t know quite what the BBC are looking for, but I’ve made a list of 5 potential spin-offs I think they should consider. I’ve left off any characters and spin-offs that are currently with Big Finish such as; Torchwood, River Song, Eighth Doctor etc. Because if they’re with Big Finish, it means the BBC have no plans for them.

5, The Ghost Chronicles.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy the Return of Doctor Mysterio. However, I do enjoy the core idea. Given the success of DC’s Arrowverse, there is clearly a market for fun/slightly camp superhero adventures and if I’m entirely honest, I’m always jealous when the Arrowverse does a huge ambitious cross-over, because Doctor Who could be doing that. Imagine the Journeys End/Stolen Earth storyline spread across Doctor Who, Torchwood and, The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’d be epic.

One of the problems with Class, is it didn’t feature any pre-established characters. The Ghost wouldn’t have this problem. Also, the character already has a comic book range, with Titan comics. So there’s clearly a market for it.

4, Time Agents.

When Captain Jack first appeared in Doctor Who, he was a loveable rogue on the run from “the time agency”. They mention the time agency has been disbanded in Torchwood and, Big Finish touch upon the organisation in ‘The Lives of Captain Jack’ but aside from that, we know very little about them. My head-canon has always included the time lord’s outsourcing to the Time Agency, when The Time War happened.

This show could have same basic principal as Doctor Who, but with a very different possibly darker dynamic. Think Torchwood, in space. Maybe even a guest appearance from a Doctor or two.

3, UNIT.

UNIT have been a major part of Doctor Who lore, ever since their debut in the ‘60s er 70’s er, 60’s. Now, I know you’re thinking ‘But Mart, you said you wouldn’t include spin-off’s that are with Big Finish’. I’m not, this would be a 70’s set X-Files type show, in the vein of Sapphire and Steel.

This idea would even lend itself to cameos from modern Doctors, as well as voice cameos from former Doctors and companions, imagine hearing Jo Grant’s voice from another room.

2, LINDA.

Alright, I know. Love and monsters sucks. But, the core idea is golden. The idea that people affected by The Doctor, would seek each other out and form a support group is genuinely fascinating. Why not expand on it?

This would also lend itself to modern and classic companions appearing, maybe LINDA (London Investigation ‘N’ Detective Agency) track down Ace, or Martha and Mickey, or Yaz, Ryan and Graham. The possibilities are endless.

1, Bannerman Road.

To many people, myself included, The Sarah Jane Adventures is still the best Doctor Who spin-off of all time. It was primarily aimed at the child audience. But some how, managed to simultaneously capture the spirit of the parent series, whilst being multilayered and enjoyable for all ages. A lot of the shows charm is down to the legendary, Elisabeth Sladen. Arguably, the true icon of the Whoniverse.

I knew who Sarah Jane Smith was, long before I’d ever seen an episode of Doctor Who. Fandom was left devastated in 2011, by Sladen’s untimely death. Not only did we lose an icon, we lost one of our favourite shows.

It’s been 12 years since SJA’s debut, so it would be a welcome treat for fans if the BBC brought the show back.

Though, obviously Sarah Jane could not feature. Fans would love to see what happened to her teenage friends and family. Maybe Rani is now a journalist, Luke a scientist, Skye might’ve just returned from university, perhaps Clyde is a teacher at Coal Hill. This show would also lend itself to appearances from classic and Nu-Who companions. Yaz, Ryan and Graham could also slot easily in, should any of them leave the TARDIS.

Obviously, in a universe as rich as Doctor Who, there are many different ideas that could be put forward for a Doctor Who spin-off.

But I feel the most logical is Bannerman Road. It’s modern day Earth and the characters all look human, so it would be relatively cheap to produce and I genuinely think there’s a story to be told here.

With Doctor Who having another gap year, there needs to be something to fill it. Especially, if this trend continues.

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.

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.