Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell: Doctor Who-Big Finish review

Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell is the second in a trilogy of specials, that sees David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor on a farewell tour before he regenerates. In the first audio, he bumped into Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. This time around, he’s paired up Peter Davison’s Fifth.

The story kicks off with The Fifth Doctor in Paris in 1809, he’s travelling sans-companion and decides to take a tour of the catacombs. It’s here that he bumps into a Time Agent Tina Drake (Shelley Conn), who for a very brief moment. I thought was Peri. Was that just me? Anyway, Tina is on the trail of a temporal paradox. Whilst in the catacombs, the duo trigger a trap, that sees the Doctor frozen in time.
In 1944, the Tenth Doctor is evading Nazis, in occupied Paris. Looking for a hiding spot, he finds himself in the catacombs, where he encounters his former self. When they return to the surface, they find Paris is overrun with Cybermen.

I was a huge fan of Out of Time and I think it’s safe to say, that this was my most anticipated release of the year. Not only are we getting a multi-Doctor story, but we’re also getting a Time Crash reunion and we’re getting an outstanding script from David Llewellyn.

The story is structured brilliantly and moves along at a swift pace. Whilst Llewellyn’s love for the Fifth Doctor shines through, this feels very much like a David Tennant era adventure. Ken Bently’s direction is smooth and matches the pacing beat for beat. Whist Howard Carter’s music and sound design help elevate the adventure even more.

The two leads have natural chemistry and bounce off each other well, there’s a lot of fun interplay between them.
I had a smile on my face the whole way through this, Lewellyn’s script is peppered with humour, call-backs and historical facts. This is quintessential Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell is available on CD and download from Big Finish.

Review-Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor Adventures Vol 1: Ravagers

Let’s be honest. None of us saw this coming. This time last year, we’d have thought the announcement was a cruel joke. It seemed so unlikely. But Sixteen years after his thirteen episode run reignited the Doctor Who franchise and brought it into the consciousness of a new generation. Christopher Eccleston is back and it’s about time.

The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Ravagers, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, is the first in a four-volume set of audio adventures.

I’ll admit, that I’ve struggled with this review. On one hand, Ravagers is an impressively ambitious set. Eccleston’s return is arguably the biggest coup Big Finish has achieved since Tom Baker returned in 2012. Billie Piper once said that when she was last in Doctor Who, she spent 3 hours looking in a mirror unable to find Rose. Eccleston doesn’t have that problem, he slips right back into character. It’s an utter joy to hear him back in the role that made me a Doctor Who fan. It’s like he’s never been away. The supporting cast is all outstanding, especially Camilla Beeput and Jayne McKenna as Nova and Audrey. Dan Starky puts in a fun performance as Marcus Aurelius Gallius. The music and sound design are flawless and match the pace of Briggs’ excellent direction. His love, passion and enthusiasm for this era of Doctor Who absolutely shines through. However, the biggest flaw is the plot. It’s a really decent 45-minute episode, stretched to 2hrs 30mins. On the bonus disc, Briggs talks about how he entered “several blind alleys” whilst trying to write this. What we end up with, is an amalgamation of various stories he couldn’t get off the ground and I think it shows.

We join the Ninth Doctor in the middle of an adventure and we work backwards, which I think is a risky move. Big Finish excels at non-linear storytelling, they do it a lot. But for many people, this would have been their gateway to the world of Doctor Who on audio. I consume a lot of Big Finish, (at least two full box sets a day) and even I, at times, struggled to keep up with the convoluted non-linear narrative. I found myself constantly rewinding a minute or two, just to see if I had missed something. At one point, I even thought I had started the wrong episode.

Overall, Ravagers is a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed the set, but I’d have prefered if they had gone with three individual stories. I’m excited for the future of this range.


Review-Torchwood: The Crown

The Ferryman stands in shadow and waits. The Ferryman giggles, hungers and hates. The Ferryman comes to carry away all who behold the crown and disobey.
Christmas Eve. Dr Gideon Parr is summoned to an asylum to check on a patient. A patient who claims to be haunted by a terrible curse. A patient who claims to be Queen Victoria.




The 45th release in the range also happens to be the final Torchwood release of 2020. Following on from “Fortitude” and “Save our souls” we once again follow the adventures of Rowena Cooper’s Queen Victoria.

It’s Christmas Eve and a young doctor (Derek Riddell) has been called away from his alleging wife to diagnose a new arrival at the local asylum, who claims to be the Queen herself.

With The Crown, Johnathan Barnes has crafted another incredibly atmospheric and immersive audio, that makes good use of its Victorian setting. This combined with Rowena Cooper’s outstanding performance as Queen Victoria levitate this above a standard ghost story. The supporting cast is amazing in their respective roles and, used expertly, which allows the story to breathe. This is all backed wonderfully by Joe Meiners flawless sound design and Blair Mowat’s musical score, which all makes for a claustrophobic soundscape. I felt cold and confined whilst listening.

This is a strong character piece that allows the listener to explore the early and darker days of Torchwood and its founder. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but this release feels very at home over the festive period. Maybe it’s because Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become so entrenched in our DNA, that the Victorian era, spooky stories and Christmas just go hand-in-hand together.

I say this on every review, but Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its best. The Crown is no different, this is a highly recommended morality tale, that would be the perfect stocking filler this Christmas.

Check out our other Big Finish reviews.

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

Torchwood: The Crown is avalible to purchase directly from Big Finish.



Review-Doctor Who: Grey man of the mountain

Something haunts the peak of Ben MacDui.
Something with heavy footsteps, striking terror in the hearts of those who sense it. With climbers going missing, retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart visits Scotland to investigate.
But when some old friends join his ascent, he worries that they will make things even more dangerous. As the snows blow in, and mists surround them, the Doctor, Ace and the Brigadier will face the Grey Man of the Mountain…


This year’s Christmas offer from Big Finish is a pretty strong release, it’s more subtle than last year’s ‘Blood on Santa’s Claw and Other Stories’. Written by Verity’s Lizabeth Myles, it teams The Brigadier up with The Seventh Doctor and Ace. Jon Culshaw plays the role exceptionally well. He’s so pitch-perfect that, if you didn’t know this wasn’t Nicholas Courtney, you wouldn’t know this wasn’t Nicholas Courtney.




McCoy and Aldred are on top form as always. The setting and environment make for a tense and unnerving experience. The audio is so vivid, I could see the action playing out in my mind’s eye. This felt like a Seventh Doctor/Ace era storyline. The audio even plays around with Ace’s sexuality, by maybe possibly giving her a love interest with Lucy Goldie’s vlogger character. The pair of have such natural chemistry.
There are a few niggles though. Vivien Read slightly overplays the landlady. It’s like she’s in completely different story-at times she reminded me of David Walliams’ Scottish riddler from Little Britain.
The audio also overruns by about 30 minutes. This, plus a sizeable guest cast makes material thin on the ground, I found myself starting to drift a bit towards the end.


Those nitpick’s aside, Grey man of the mountain is an immersive, atmospheric and underplayed Christmas special. Which takes full advantage of its setting, cast and the medium of telling a story for audio.

Doctor Who: Grey man of the mountain is available to purchase directly from Big Finish



Review-Torchwood: Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue

Rhys is planning a lads’ night in. Barbie in the back yard, few tins, mates and bants. But the only person who turns up is Ianto – who hasn’t been invited. Hell is other people, especially when they’ve brought board games.
Something goes wrong. The two of them could be trapped together for eternity at a barbecue where the sausages never cook, and worse, the brewskis remain forever out of reach.


This was a story I was really looking forward to. Rhys and Ianto are such great characters, who sadly didn’t get to interact much in the main series. Thankfully, that’s what Big Finish do so well. They’ll take characters who didn’t interact much like Owen and Andy, or Rhys and Ianto and they’ll give them incredible stories that build the relationships and add to the overall mythology of Torchwood.


I was expecting a light-hearted tale, given that this features two of Torchwood’s most fun characters. But this story is actually an emotional gut-punch. There are some moments of levity, but writer Tim Foley also chucks in some really emotional moments. Rhys and Ianto comforting Deidre in her final moments is utterly heart-wrenching and takes its toll on our heroes. The moment Rhys opens up to Ianto is handled in an extremely mature and realistic way. Kai Owen and Gareth David-Lloyd are both excellent in this. Both know their characters extremely well and portray them wonderfully. Youssef Kerkour is a magnificent addition as Badger/Deidre.




I also really enjoyed when the audio played with the awkwardness of having to spend time with your spouse’s friend, who you know very little about. I’m sure we’ve all been there.
Overall, this is a beautiful story about male friendship and the need to open up, which is extremely well-executed and incredibly relatable. Especially in these isolating times. This has everything I love about the range, it’s bonkers, funny, touching and, produced to a high quality. Blair Mowat’s music beautifully accents the dialogue and accompanies Joe Meiners sound design flawlessly.
I say this on every review, but every release proves my point. Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its absolute best.

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

Rhys and Ianto’s excellent Barbecue is available to purchase directly from Big Finish.



Episode 239: The War Master: Hearts of Darkness

Martyn is joined by Dominic G Martin AKA Who Chaser.

The Duo discusses the fifth series in The War Doctor range, by Big Finish Productions. (there are some spoilers). They also talk about Dominic’s love for cosplay, his fan audios and, YouTube channel.

The War Master is a character played by Sir Derek Jacobi, that originated in the TV series Doctor Who.

The War Master: Hearts of Darkness is available to purchase directly from Big Finish.

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, PodchaserPlayer FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

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Equipment used in the creation of this feature was purchased through a grant from Graeae and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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Chris is taking part in Movember if you’d like to donate you can do so here.

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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 partly 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.

 

Torchwood: The Three Monkeys is available to purchase directly from Big Finish.



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

Torchwood: Ex Machina is available to purchase directly from Big Finish.

Episode 231:Big Finish-Doctor Who: Out of time

In which Martyn, Sam, and Chris discuss ‘Out of time’ the latest Doctor Who release from Big Finish.

Out of Time 1 stars David Tennant and Tom Baker. It was written by Matt Fitton and directed by Nicholas Briggs.

Read Martyn’s written review here.



The Big Finish Chris appears on can be bought here.

Check out Chris’ adaptation of Sleuth here.

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to;

Podchaser, Player FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

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Doctor Who: Out of Time 1 is now available from the Big Finish website.



Review-Doctor Who: Out of time

Covid 19 has been an utter horror, but it has given Doctor Who fans content we wouldn’t have gotten without it. Not only did we get a Sarah Jane Smith finale written by Russell T Davies, we also got the news that Christopher Eccleston has signed up to Big Finish.

It also enabled Big Finish to bring forward their release of Out of time 1. This was recorded entirely in lockdown and only happened because the events of this year cleared out David Tennant’s insane schedule.

Out of Time is the first, in a trilogy of original audio adventures that sees the Tenth Doctor pit himself against his most iconic foes, with a former Doctor by his side. In this story he’s joined by The Fourth Doctor, played by the legendary Tom Baker.



Multi-Doctor stories are nothing new, but this is the first time these two incarnations have met and it’s absolutely joyous. There’s the standard bickering we get when two Doctors meet, however there’s more love and mutual respect between these two.

Writer Matt Fitton perfectly manages to balance the tonal difference between two entirely different eras of the show. Ten and Four bounce of each other spectacularly well. Both lead actors absolutely soar in their respective roles.

Howard Carter’s music perfectly compliments the drama, punctuating the actors performances. The supporting cast are all on top form and Nicholas Briggs takes on a dual role as actor and director, he does both with absolute vigour. This is clearly a passion project for all involved, a love letter to Doctor Who and its fans.

Out of time may well be the best multi-Doctor story yet. I can’t wait for the second and third instalments.

Cast:

Listen to our podcast discussion about ‘Out of time’ here.

Doctor Who: Out of Time 1 is now available from the Big Finish website.