Review-Torchwood: The Three Monkeys

November’s Torchwood release was recorded entirely during lockdown. I wonder how long it will be before I stop mentioning things have been recorded during lockdown?

The Three Monkeys once again pairs everyone’s favourite Torchwood odd-couple, Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) and Tom Price (Andy Davidson). Unlike their previous team-ups, this is relatively light in tone.

Andy’s heart-breaking tale about his uncle was bizarrely semi-based on a real story Burn Gorman told writer James Goss. In 2009, post offices up and down the country were installed with new computer systems. These systems showed massive discrepancies in the accounts. Even after the system was proved to be at fault, post office owners were wrongfully prosecuted for embezzlement. Goss wondered what would happen if this story was given a Torchwood twist and, The Three Monkeys was born.

Although lighter in tone, this audio brings everything we’ve come to expect from a James Goss release. It’s filled with tragic elements and deep character explorations. All perfectly directed by Scott Handcock, who allows the more serious moments to breathe. Iain Meadows’ sound design is flawless and tugs on the heartstrings, when Andy talks about his Aunt and Uncle. The setting of a car is inspired and makes the story feel confined and intimate. It’s like we’re sat on the back seat listening.

As always, Gorman and Price work insanely well together, Andy’s optimism mixed with Owen’s cynicism makes for an interesting dynamic.

Torchwood: The Three Monkeys once again shows that Torchwood on Big Finish, is Torchwood at its very best.



Big Finish review-Torchwood: Ex Machina

Ianto Jones is Torchwood. Ianto Jones is the defender of a deserted city, a lone crusader who keeps the empty streets safe.

One day he meets one of the few survivors. She needs his help – because she’s being chased by a darkness. A darkness which says it loves her.


Ex Machina is the debut Torchwood story by writer, Alfie Shaw. Shaw says he came up with the idea, after passing a book shop he used to visit with an ex. He suddenly felt like the shop was off-limits to him. Along with mutual friends etc. That’s something that really resonated with me whilst listening.




This audio focuses on fan-favourite Ianto, as he tries to help Abigail, who can’t understand what’s happened to her parents. In every photograph, she’s impossibly alone. Even in the memory, she has of moving to Cardiff, it’s just her at 6-years-old in the car. Alone.
The only tether she has to her old life is her neighbour Mrs. Evans – and she has problems of her own.

Gareth David-Lloyd and Laura Aickman work extremely well together. This audio was recorded remotely and entirely during lockdown. It’s a testament to the actor’s abilities and Big Finish as a whole, that you’d never guess. Perhaps the remote recording helped the performers feel isolated, like their characters. Jacob Dudman also puts in a fun performance, as a completely unlikeable character.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its very best. This is another top-notch entry in the range.

Cast:

Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones)

Laura Aikman (Abigail Forehill)

Jacob Dudman (Luke)

Misha Malcolm (Fran)

Joshua Manning (The Absence)

Kerry Joy Stewart (Mrs. Evans)

Cover Art: Lee Binding

Music: Blair Mowat and Murray Gold

Writer: Alfie Shaw



Review-Torchwood Soho Parasite

Since he was first introduced in 2016’s Ghost Mission, Norton Folgate (Samuel Barnett) has popped up in several Torchwood audios. His self-serving ways fast cemented him as a fan-favourite. So much so, it’s difficult to imagine the Torchwood cast without him.

In Torchwood Soho: Parasite, we catch up with Norton, as he investigates strange happenings in post-war London. There’re Nazi packages, a man who should be dead, a time-traveling pub and, Torchwood fan-favourite Sergeant Andy Davidson (Tom Price).

Writer James Goss blows me away, with each release. This is no exception. What’s interesting about this box set, is it’s comprised of six half-hour episodes. I loved this format and I hope it stays. It enables the story to be lean and flow at an incredible pace, there’s no filler here.

The story has a non-linear format, but thanks to Scott Handock’s smooth direction, you’re never lost. You know exactly where every character is and their motivations are always clear.



What can be said about Samuel Barnett and Tom Price at this point? They have such great natural chemistry, Norton and Andy are the perfect Big Finish odd-couple. It’s always a joy to hear them interact.

Rounding off the team are Torchwood new-comers, Dervla Kirwan and Joe Shire. Kirwan instantly shines as Lizabeth Hayhoe, she makes the role her own and establishes the character as a force to be reckoned with. Shire is equally charming as Gideon Lyme, a journalist, and love-interest of Norton. There’s also Belle Epoque (Franchi Webb), the immortal landlady of ‘The Stagnant Pond’ pub. All three characters are brilliant for Torchwood, I hope we see them again.

All-in-all, Torchwood Soho: Parasite is a strong release. Highly recommended.

Cast:



Big Finish review-Torchwood: Red Base

Mars is the next giant leap for mankind. Starr Base is the first small step. A practice Mars base has been set up in a quarry in Neath, just off the A474. Its aim is to see if humanity can survive on the red planet.

The problem is that the crew are dying. The survivors are terrified, paranoid, and wondering if something alien has got inside Starr Base. Sgt. Andy Davidson has come to find out what’s gone wrong.

Torchwood: Red Base, by the extraordinarily talented James Goss, is a murder mystery. So it’s difficult to review without spoiling.

It’s a whodunnit, loosely based on the channel 4 reality show, Eden. Which saw 23 participants living for a year in a remote part of Scotland, attempting to build a self-sufficient community. Filmed by the participants themselves, production began in March 2016. Unknown to the participants, broadcasting ceased after four episodes due to poor viewer ratings.

The Torchwood range has fast become my favourite. Releases like this just cement my view that Torchwood on Big Finish, is Torchwood at its absolute best.

Everyone involved is at the top of their game. Once more, James Goss gives us a solid mystery, paying homage to all the greats. Whilst also putting an original twist on the genre. Lisa Bowerman’s direction is as slick as always, she’s truly one of the best directors in the industry.

Blair Mowat’s music is perfectly accompanied and complimented by Joe Meiners sound design.

Tom Price is fantastic as Sgt. Andy Davidson, at this point he could play the role in his sleep. But he continually gives an outstanding performances full of humour, empathy and understanding. Everything that made Andy such a fan-favourite. It’s been a joy to hear the character evolve over the years.

Cast

  • Tom Price (Andy Davidson)
  • Kae Alexander (Mina)
  • Jeremy Ang Jones (Dave)
  • Rakie Ayola (Emma)
  • Ronak Patani (Faisal)

Torchwood: Red Base is now available to own as a collector’s edition CD at £10.99 or on download from the Big Finish website for £8.99.

Dalek tells humans to stay home

A Dalek has been spotted ordering people to stay indors.

Most of the UK is currently on a government-ordered lockdown as part of a national effort to save lives, although there are some members of the public who’ve been disregarding the guidelines this weekend, due to unseasonabily warm weather.

A video posted on Twitter has shown a Dalek, roaming the street in a countryside village.

As people have been so blatantly flouting the guidelines, I think we need Nicholas Briggs to redub this video with the official voice of the Daleks.

Episode 224: Series 12

In which two angry men, talk to one heavily medicated man, about the last three episodes of series 12 of Doctor Who. The trio discuss the strange times of Covid 19 and the recent positivity its brought about within the Doctor Who fandom. Which saw the likes of Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and, Matt Smith join Twitter for a Doctor Who watch along. Episodes Included Rose, Day of the doctor, Vincent & The Doctor and, The eleventh hour.

Steven Moffat wrote a new short video, featuring Dan Starky reprising his role as Strax. Russell T Davies released a prequel and sequel to ‘Rose’. The prequel was written long before the concept of The War Doctor, was introduced by Steven Moffat. It featured the regeneration of Paul McGann’s incarnation of The Doctor, into Christopher Eccleston’s

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Artwork by Penny Smallshire.

Review-Torchwood: The Sins of Captain John

From zombies in Restoration London to Hell gatecrashing a funeral, rogue Time Agent Captain John Hart leads the universe to rack and ruin in four new adventures written by David Llewellyn.

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

Torchwood: The Sins of Captain John is a four-episode story, with James Marsters clearly having the time of his life breaking the fourth wall, as the Whoniverse’s answer to Deadpool. There’s even a fun moment where he complains to director Scott Handcock, that he can’t hear the theme song.

1. The Restored

Captain John is in Restoration England looking for some gauntlets. There’s intrigue in the Tower of London, the dead are walking the streets, and the severed head of Oliver Cromwell has a terrible warning.

2. Escape from Nebazz

Captain John is in a wooden space prison that’s under attack by a strange and terrible life form. Also the catering is truly dreadful and Dr Magpie’s latest discovery may have got a little out of hand.

3. Peach Blossom Heights

Captains John and Jack find themselves stranded on a world that may be actual paradise – the weather is pleasant, the people are friendly, and the giant stuffed animals only come out at night. There’s only one thing the world is missing. No-one has ever explained to any of the population about the birds and the bees. Which is unfortunate.

4. Darker Purposes

Captain John arrives at the funeral of one of the galaxy’s richest men. He died without making a will, and his heirs have some very creative ideas about how this can be put to rights involving murder, necromancy and seduction. Sadly, Captain John is only too happy to oblige.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 12 years since we first met the swashbuckling Captain John. James Marsters clearly has a lot of affection for the character, as he absolutely shines in this. It’s great to hear him on his own adventures.

David Llewellyn’s script is fast and funny, with Scott Handcock’s direction matching it all the way. The supporting cast are also incredible, each one of them gives a memorable performance without outshining Captain John.

The Sins of Captain John is everything I hoped it would be and more. Roll on Volume 2.

Review – Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon

The Dimension Cannon gives the character Rose Tyler her own series, in four audio dramas by Big Finish Productions. Billie Piper reprises her role as the first of The Doctor’s travelling companions in 21st century Doctor Who.

Shop girl turned sci-fi action hero Rose Tyler is consigned to a parallel universe with her mum, Jackie (Camille Coduri) and a parallel version of her dear departed dad, Pete (Shaun Dingwall). They’ve turned their attention to helping protect not only their world from extraordinary threats but also many other Earths. They’re following in the footsteps of Rose’s beloved Doctor: the charismatic, time-travelling space alien whose defence of Rose’s Earth left her separated from it – and him.

The Dimension Cannon offers Rose a chance to bring The Doctor back into the fight – and into her life again. For short periods of time the cannon allows her to visit other parallel universes that offer clues to the whereabouts of The Doctor. On her first trip she’s reunited with a parallel version of Clive, a conspiracy theorist who was murdered in Rose’s universe. Bark Benton reprises the role of Clive throughout the set and it’s good fun to have him back.

The four stories take us to four new parallel versions of London, where we’re introduced to startling alternate versions of the well-loved characters that head up this series. This collection of audios is not so much a spin-off from Doctor Who as it’s a spiritual follow-on from ‘Father’s Day,’ the episode that introduced us to the ‘original’ Pete Tyler and led us through dark times leading up to his death.

Chasing The Doctor inevitably means getting to know the locals in each different London and Rose finds she already knows many of them all too well. She gets personally involved in the lives of the people she meets, encountering Jackie, Pete and others in slightly different forms. It makes arriving in each universe a treat for the listener – and leaving each of them is tough all round.

Big Finish tie-in plays lure us into the audio realm by offering us characters and situations that are proven successes on television. They honour these successes with intriguing stories that at least equal their predecessors in quality. Rose’s story in Doctor Who has a lot of heart – and heartbreak. These new tales are equally engaging character pieces.

By presenting so many alternate versions of the original roles played by the cast, the normally-invisible work of the actors gets a bit of a peek into the limelight. I was properly immersed in and moved by the drama here but I also enjoyed listening for the subtle differences between the characters parallel to each other.

I’m very much opposed to more for more’s sake; I hate seeing delightful series run down by commercial supplements. You’ll find none of that here in Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon. This box set revisits the Tylers in a clever way that gives us more of what we’re counting on in ways that constantly surprise.

Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon is available now from Big Finish.

Review-Torchwood: The Hope

The Big Finish Torchwood range is always advertised with “This release contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners” never has that statement been truer, than with this release. One of the many things James Goss excels at, is bleak. After giving us all nightmares with Corpse Day. He’s back with The Hope.

Megwyn Jones is one of the most hated women in Britain. She used to run a home for troubled children in an isolated part of Snowdonia called The Hope. For a long time there were rumours about what was happening there, and then one day it was realised that the children had gone missing.

Ever since, Megwyn’s kept her peace. Is she innocent? Is she guilty? Where are the bodies?

An audio play about a convicted child-murderer is never going to be an easy listen. However, James Goss has carved something of a masterpiece here. This is an audio that definitely rewards repeat listening.

Burn Gorman and Tom Price had such brilliant chemistry, in Corpse Day that I’ve been waiting impatiently for a follow up, ever since. Their chemistry is still present and their scenes together are pure gold. Andy’s eternal optimism is a perfect foil for Owen’s eternal pessimism. They also get a chance to shine separately, in scenes that are up there with the most horrific in Torchwood’s history. Siân Phillips is mesmerising as Megwyn Jones, you instantly dislike Megwyn-but you’re also fascinated by her.

The Hope couldn’t be any further away in tone, than last month’s ‘Serenity’. But that’s what makes this series so great. I enjoyed Torchwood on TV. But Big Finish Torchwood, is Torchwood at its absolute best.

Review-Torchwood:Serenity

Serenity Plaza is the most exclusive gated community in South Wales.

Jack and Ianto have gone undercover as a happily married couple. There are rumours that something’s wrong at Serenity Plaza and they’re determined to investigate. But the problem is that Serenity Plaza is just so rigidly normal.

Suddenly, Jack and Ianto have to confront the problems that normal couples face. Sharing a house together, doing the washing up, entering the residents’ baking contest, and hoping to win the Best Kept Lawn.

Competition is fierce. Because this is Serenity Plaza. And you’d kill to live there.

Torchwood: Serenity is James Moran’s first Big Finish audio, so it’s fitting that it’s a sequel to his series 2 episode ‘Sleeper’ and this does what any good sequel should, it develops the threat originally presented and adds layers and complexities-all whilst playing to the strengths the medium of audio allows. Moran has crafted a continuation, that logically feels like the next step in the story.

Jack and Ianto’s relationship has always been popular with fans, so it’s great to have an outing featuring the pair. John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd are clearly having a lot of fun here. The script is full of innuendo, with GDL playing Ianto as a Stepford Wife-type. He even gets to turn his Welshness up to 11.

I laughed a lot and I laughed hard with this audio, this is one Torchwood fans won’t want to miss.