Review-Torchwood Sonny

In just a few short years, Lizzie Hopley has cemented herself as one of the most consistent writers on the Big Finish roster. Returning to the Torchwood range for the first time since 2017, she gives us an interesting morality tale about care homes, loneliness, the treatment of elderly people and, the existential crisis of an AI.

Torchwood: Sonny follows fan-favourite Rhys (Kai Owen) as he enlists his mum, Brenda (Nerys Hughes) into helping Torchwood investigate a new fleet of robots, in a care home. At first, Brenda isn’t too pleased about this. But as time goes on, she becomes more and more dependent on her robot, named Sonny.

I had almost expected this to be a tale of robots taking over and attempting to enslave humanity. But Lizzie Hopley is so much smarter than that. She knows we’ve seen that trope a thousand times before. Instead of making us fear what robots could do to us, she makes us fear what robots could reveal about us.

Kai Owen, Nerys Hughes, and Steven Kynman are all terrific, and their relationships are convincing from the start. We all know Hughes is a particularly talented actress, but she absolutely shines in this audio. She portrays Brenda with such a raw vulnerability, that feels like an emotional gut-punch at times. There’s a wonderful complexity to Brenda, that I hope we get more of in the future. The supporting cast is also exceptionally strong, with Amerjit Deu, in particular, doing a fantastic job as Prudeep.

Sonny is not only a brilliantly comedic script, it’s also a deep exploration of what it means to feel isolated. Hopley manages to convey the monotony of being in a care home, without the story being boring. Lisa Bowerman’s direction is flawless and keeps the story going at exactly the right pace, this is all beautifully accompanied by Steve Wright’s soundtrack.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its absolute best.

Torchwood: Sonny is available to buy from the Big Finish website.

Review-Ben Reilly issue 1

It’s weird being a Spider-Man fan, I’m old enough to remember the original reaction to ‘The clone saga’. People hated it, they hated there was a Spider-Man that wasn’t Peter Parker. Nowdays, the appeal of the character seems to be that there are thousands of variations.

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1, picks up shortly after Ben Reilly took over the mantle of Spider-Man from Peter Parker (before to the Beyond Saga), and he’s having identity issues.
The resurrection of Carrion, a living virus, as well as other villains from Peter’s past, doesn’t help matters.

DeMatteis transports the reader to the aftermath of the clone saga and tells a compelling story about a conflicted hero attempting to figure out who and what he truly is.

I adored the story’s complexities and Ben’s internal battle. His personality is intriguing, and the darkness within him makes the reader interested in his decisions. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this tale leads, and the conclusion of this issue has piqued my interest even more.

With its amazing attention to detail and unique, engaging style, David Baldeon’s art continues to excite and impress. His work manages to convey character feelings, as well as fantastic action and catches the 90s vibe.

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 is a solid issue. It’s almost as if Ben Reilly has come full circle, since his first appearance so many decades ago, and this is a great example of how successfully the character can be handled.

There’s a lot to be explored, and this series feels like it might be the ultimate piece of proof that his long-ago creation was, in fact, a great idea.

Listen to our review of Spider-Man: No way home here.

Review-The year of Martha Jones

The Master has won. He has stolen humanity’s future and imprisoned his nemesis, ruling the Earth with an army of deadly Toclafane.
But Martha Jones escaped, and now walks the Earth, telling stories of the Doctor. Above all else, humanity needs hope. And Martha will carry that hope across the world.

Something we never saw on Doctor Who is a big component of Martha Jones’ companion narrative.
During a time of death, destruction, and turmoil, she spent a full year on her own.
In the shows third series (Nu-Who), the Master and his army of Toclafane took over Earth and rendered our favourite Gallifreyan hero unconscious and looking like a cross between Yoda and Dobby.

Martha was entrusted with a monumental responsibility by the Doctor.
We know she succeeded because she is the best companion the modern series has had, but we didn’t see how she did it.

The Year of Martha Jones is a unique blend of great storytelling, humour and action. Much like The Doctor, Martha has become a mythological and contentious figure. People across the world murmur her name.
Some see her as a ray of hope. Others think she’s overrated, and her stories are nothing more than fairytales in the middle of constant conflict. They are perplexed by Martha’s genuine objectives and wonder if she has a plan to assassinate the Master.

At her core, Martha is just a human being trying her best to maintain emotional and mental stability in the face of an overwhelming challenge. She’s witnessed horrific tragedies and struggles with loneliness and paranoia all the time, unsure of whom she can trust in the world.

Her hope is still in the Doctor, and she always emphasises his great characteristics in her stories, but reality weighs heavily on her heart.
She is the only one in this unexpected and tough scenario.

The audio quickly finds its footing, thanks to a combination of great writing and performances from all involved.
Freema Agyeman and Adjoa Andoh, who plays Francine Jones, have great and natural chemistry together, it’s revealed in the extras that even Freema’s real-life mum, thinks of Adjoa as her second-mother. Freema calls her “Mamma Adj”.

We also meet a number of new interesting characters, such as Ewart James Walters as Tucker and Serin Ibrahim as Holly, an old college friend, who has a shaky relationship with Martha.

The Year of Martha Jones is a fascinating insight into human resilience, there are no bombastic over the top moments like you’d expect from the David Tennant era. Instead, this is a quiet and reflective story, that focuses on the little victories Martha is able to win on her journey. Scott Handcock’s direction is flawless and is beautifully accompanied by Howard Carter’s music and sound design.

It’s also easily Freema Ageyman’s best performance as the character. Over the years she has grown and evolved as an actress. I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Miss Jones.

The Year of Martha Jones is available to buy from Big finish.




Review-Torchwood: The Red List

The pandemic may have stalled plans for the official seventh series of Torchwood, but producers James Goss and Scott Handcock haven’t just rested on their laurels this year, like the rest of us. In the past 12 months, they’ve given us Torchwood tales about mould, coffee shops and Sontarans. We’ve also seen the return of Yvonne Hartman, Zachary Cross, Billis Manger and, Adam Smith. I’ve barely managed to take the bins out and these guys have continued giving us the best version of Torchwood on any medium.

This month’s release teams up Mr Colchester with a modern-day version of Ace AKA Dorothy McShane, for an adventure set in South America. The duo is both independently there to investigate a revolution but are stuck in a hotel under quarantine.

Mr Colchester, who is played as brilliantly as ever by Paul Clayton, begins the storey with a monologue.
This works as a great way to convey information to the audience, without feeling unrealistic or forced. I think we’ve all probably spoken to ourselves this year. Clayton is clearly having a great time, reprising his role as fan-favourite Colchester and it’s great to hear Sophie Aldred play an older version of Ace, it just goes to show how much work she puts into her performance as a younger version of the character on the main range. As the two versions are so clearly different.

The two leads have great chemistry and play on the mundanity that comes with a lockdown.
They’re supported in this adventure, by Xavier, a hotel technician played by Manuel Pacific. Xavier is there to receive the brunt of Colchester’s complaints and Pacific does a tremendous job, with such a small role.

Scott Handcock, as always, is a fantastic director who is able to get real genuine and believable performances from the three cast members. Steve Foxon’s sound design is flawless and perfectly encapsulates the Latin ambience and compliments Blair Mowat’s music incredibly well.

It’s difficult to review this audio fully, as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling. So I will say, it’s a lot of fun and features the best-written characters from both Torchwood and Doctor Who. It ends on a cliffhanger and I for one, hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Colchester and Ace.

Torchwood: The Red List is available to purchase from the Big Finish site and goes on general release on the 31st January 2022.


CWT releases A Christmas Carol adaptation.

Our very own Mr Chris has released a unique adaptation of Charles Dickens’ renowned festive classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’, featuring a what-if cast of well-known voices from BBC’s Doctor Who.

The adaption is written by Ashley Gregory and directed by Chris Walker-Thomson, who also stars in the play.

You know the drill, Ebeneezer Scrooge is a terrible man, whose life is transformed by visiting ghosts. It is a haunting tale of redemption, that continues to resonate throughout the ages. In this version, Ashley and Chris have imagined what the tale would sound like if it were voiced by the cast of Doctor Who.

The audio also stars Jon Culshaw, Katy Manning, Pete Walsh, Elliot Crossley and, Jonathon Carley.

it’s avalible on YouTube and to download as an MP3.

David Tennant to guest on Torchwood audio

Following on from his return in the Doctor Who episode ‘Revolution of the Daleks’  John Barrowman’s Captain Jack will be returning to the Big Finish Torchwood range, to celebrate its fiftieth episode. It will also mark the first time a Doctor has appeared in the spin-off, as David Tennant will be guesting as The Tenth Doctor.  The audio will also feature fan-favourite, Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones.

Anyone who has read my reviews will know that I think Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its very best, so I’m ridiculously excited by this news.

John Barrowman said: “Fans have been asking for this for a long time. Now that it’s okay and it’s been cleared, it’s great to have him on board. There’s an interesting dynamic going on here because Jack still wants to follow him but yet wants to impress on him that he’s still the leader.”

David Tennant added: “Because this isn’t a Doctor Who story, the Doctor doesn’t have to be ahead of everything and saving the day. What’s interesting about this story – from the Doctor’s point of view – is he sort of messes up. It’s a story about the Doctor being a bit imperfect which is nice to see now and again actually.”

Torchwood: Absent Friends is now available to pre-order as a collector’s edition CD at £10.99 or on download from the Big Finish website at £8.99.

https://youtu.be/Z9Go6ytqc_E

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



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.

We also have a Smartlink.



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

If you’d like to support the show, then please shop via our Amazon link. A small percentage goes our way, at no extra cost to you.

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

Check out our Youtube, We Sound Familiar and, Comedians talking football.

Socials:

Twitter:

Dominic-@DominicJGMartin

Martyn – @BadWilf

Gerrod –@InGerrodsMind

Pete – @BeeblePete

Sam-@Sammichaelcomic

Instagram:

Dominic-@dominusoftime

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Chris-@ChrisWalkerThomsonofficial

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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.