This set is many things. Its a wry, ironic look at some of the more silly aspects of Doctor Who, its an exploration of the aftermath of an awful Universe spanning time smashing war (sound familiar?) Its a silly superficial romp on the surface but with an incredible amount of depth that will reward the discerning listener as they spot the clever lines, references and pastiches of the Doctor Who we know and love but that have necessarily been skewed off kilter to take into account that we are in a whole new Universe.

 Oh yes, I forgot to mention that, this is no ordinary Bernice Box Set, yes she travels with the Doctor – but, its not “her” Doctor, actually its not any Doctor from our Universe, the Doctor of this set is played by David Warner – THE DAVID WARNER, from the parallel unbound universe where he is the Third Doctor to catch up, take a listen to this & this and come back in about three hours, there will be a test…

 OK, sit at your desks and turn your papers over, you have one hour. No really of course, but now that you are all caught up – David Warner eh? Fantastic casting and a fantastic take on the Doctor – curmudgeonly, sardonic, sarcastic but something of the grand wizard about him a sort of Colin meets Hartnell meets Capaldi but not really – Mr Warner is very much his own Doctor. But how does he interact with the force of nature that is Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield?

 Ah Bernice – I am eternally grateful to Paul Cornell for creating her, she is just magnificent, charming, sarcastic, witty, intelligent, drinks like a fish and has better one liners than Roger Moore as Bond – she even holds the (bit of shameless self promotion here) “The Edward Watkinson Chair of Archaeology” at St. Oscars University. Yup, Benny is up there, top of the pile as my all time favourite companion of the Doctor in any format and to those who say the word “canon” I say “PAH!” Benny is as canon as Sarah-Jane, Jo Grant and Donna Noble. So there :-)

As to her interaction with this alternative Doctor – she is her usual wisecracking self, not at all fazed by the virtual stranger that materialises in her lecture hall and sweeps her away for an adventure in another time and another space – problem is, the Universe that the Warner Doctor comes from is about to end. Literally. It has all but run out of time, the star really are going out and the Doctor as de-facto King of the Universe (a purely honorary title apparently) calls on Benny to help him prolong the inevitable:

 1 The Library In The Body by James Goss

 When the Universe is coming to an end the only thing that seems to have any value is knowledge. There is one vast Library left in the Universe and it is drawing in the great and the good – the Sisters of Saint Beedlix led by their Mother Superior (Rowena Cooper) in search of the lost hymns, The Sage of Sardner (Guy Adams) and the Doctor & Benny. It also attracts the unwanted attention of the Kareem – a rag tag band of space luddites who believe that all knowledge is evil and that the Library must be destroyed. Add to this the traditional “body being discovered by The Doctor and him being caught discovering the body and being accused of the murder” and you have a pretty standard traditional Who tale. In fact you don’t – what this set does very very well is take the trappings of a typical Who story and turn it on its head – it may not be for everyone but this is a set of stories for listeners who like their stories with a lot of layers and levels of complexity that are there if you want to delve deeper. It also has singing nuns so what isn’t there to like????

 2 Planet X by Guy Adams

 Planet X is a “B” movie sci-fi staple – in this case it isn’t (again) Planet X is called Planet X because it is so dull that they couldn’t be bothered to think of a name for it. Benny is reluctantly taken there by The Doctor – and yes it is dull. But there is a sinister edged to the dullness – the dull mediocrity is enforced lethally by the Government headed by Prime Minister 470 (Julie Graham) – those who show any spark or promise are conveniently “disappeared” as they represent a threat to the social order of utter blandness. Tyranny comes in many forms and the Doctor being the Doctor decides that enough is enough. Warner is on top of his game in this episode, his verbal sparring with the Prime Minister is a joy to hear. In a funny way this is reminiscent of the TV story “The Happiness Patrol” but painted in shades of grey and beige rather than glitz and gaudiness and an interesting take on the “Doctor destabilises a whole regime” style of story.

 3  The Very Dark Thing by Una McCormack

 In Doctor Who, when a planet seems idyllic it usually isn’t. In this story the planet in question is Tramatz, and it seems, well, idyllic so obviously isn’t. Not at all. In any way. The Doctor has been on Tramatz for a while enjoying the singing rivers, the emerald forests, the Unicorns and the tranquility. There is a space fleet orbiting Tramatz sending messages and threats to the population – Fleet Admiral Effenish (Deirdre Mullins) pleads with the population to respond or she will be forced to take lethal action against Tramatz. But why? Why does she need to do this, why cant the population hear her, and why CAN Benny hear her and WHAT is the “very dark thing” that everyone can see but no one wants to admit is there?

This is a classic, a grade A cast iron classic. Not to everyones tastes, there may be some who dismiss it and miss the point but this story is all about imagination. Because sometimes to quote Love & Monsters “we forget because we must” – in fact this has a very “Love and Monsters” feel about it a multi layered story told from different angles and viewed in completely different ways once it has been experienced. What begins as a trip to fantasy land ends with a sense of regret and melancholy that is justified. Highlight of the box set.

 4 The Emporium At The End by Emma Reeves

 At the end of the Universe, everyone goes to the shops – to the emporium at the end of the Universe where large amounts of cash or the sale of some of your memories will buy you a lottery ticket and a chance to escape to another Universe. Presiding over the shop is “The Manager” played by “Sam Kisgart” actor extraordinaire with a CV stretching back to the 1960’s – its well worth listening to the extra features for an exclusive interview with this most elusive of thespians. Of course the Manager is a pretty rubbish pseudonym for this universe’s version of The Master and the Emporium is the latest in a convoluted series of schemes to keep himself alive at the expense of his shoppers. New writer to Big Finish Emma Reeves really knows her Who, fans will delight in her use of dialogue from the series within the confines of the story. Its a totally off the wall plot as has been the case with much of the box set, but again beneath the surface has a familiarity that long time fans will see. It also has the return of the singing nuns and Bernice getting drunk with the Mother Superior so what isn’t there to like?????

 Wry, ironic and silly – and why not – some of the very best Doctor Who stories are the silly ones, and this set has silliness in spades. But very very cleverly, the silliness and the avant grade take on Doctor Who masks a seriousness and a trauma that all the characters in this “Unbound” universe have been through, an awful total war that has pretty much ended their reality – so with hindsight the silliness is pure dark gallows humour.

We are blessed to have David Warner as the Doctor, the old curmudgeon works a treat with the effervescent, witty Professor Summerfield and I hope that this is not the last we have heard of “Sam Kisgart” as a beautifully arch Master.

This really is a Bernice Summerfield set though and the first lady of Big Finish Lisa Bowerman continues (after nearly 20 years in the role) to astound as THE greatest companion that the Doctor has ever had the privilege of travelling with – and giving her a new Doctor and a new Universe to play with is a just reward for the longest running Big Finish character, and long may she be Unbound. A sideways take on Doctor Who, a full on new direction for Bernice – 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in August 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date.

The wrong Doctor, the wrong universe, a whole heap of trouble – Bernice Summerfield is having a really bad day.

3.1 The Library In The Body by James Goss

In a dying reality knowledge is the only thing left of value – and the Kareem have come to destroy it. Can Bernice, the Doctor save the last library?

3.2 Planet X by Guy Adams

Bernice and the Doctor land on a planet so dull no one ever bothered naming it. Finally something interesting is about to happen here.

3.3 The Very Dark Thing by Una McCormack

Tramatz is an idyllic world – the rivers hum to themselves, unicorns prance through the emerald forests, and, at the very corner of your eye, is a horrible secret.

3.4 The Emporium At The End by Emma Reeves

The Last Song has been sung, and the final days of the universe have begun. Everyone flees to the gateway – to find that The Emporium At The End is having a closing down sale.

Written By: Guy Adams, James Goss, Una McCormack, Emma Reeves
Directed By: Scott Handcock


Lisa Bowerman (Professor Bernice Summerfield), David Warner (The Doctor), Zeb Soanes (The Librarian), Guy Adams (The Sage of Sardner), Tom Webster (Acolyte Farnsworth), Rowena Cooper (Mother Superior), Alex Jordan (Mandeville/Kareem Chief/Acolyte), Sophie Wu (Millie), Julie Graham (Prime Minister 470), Damian Lynch (Ego), Kerry Gooderson (Megatz), Deirdre Mullins (Fleet Admiral Effenish),George Blagden (Colonel Neave), Richard Earl (Gallario), Aaron Neil (Aramatz),Laura Doddington (Idratz), Lizzie Hopley (Sister Christie), Shvorne Marls (Ampz),Gus Brown (Forz), Scott Handcock (Elevator) and Sam Kisgart as the Master. Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Producer and Script Editor James Goss

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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Strong tea and a currant slice. Bet you weren’t expecting my review to start like that. But it had to, because this is the first thing I think of when I think of Sherlock Holmes. There are certain trigger memories and Sherlock Holmes is one of them. Whereas I was and am primarily a Doctor Who fan, this was a very solitary fandom for me as a child and teenager, none of my family or friends seemed to be that bothered with it and it was merely tolerated as an eccentricity I would grow out of. In Sherlock Holmes though I had an ally – a wonderful now sadly departed ally – my Taid (welsh for Grandfather). Good old William Edward Williams was a staunch fan of the exploits of Mr Holmes, he introduced me to his adventures through the repeats of the Basil Rathbone films on a Friday evening, and this became my highlight of the week after finishing school on a Friday  off to see Taid, strong tea & a currant slice provided and we would lose ourselves for an hour or so in the murky world of 1940’s wartime England as Holmes and Watson saw off Nazi spies. As I grew a bit older I graduated to Jeremy Brett and the sublime ITV series, again watched with Taid, tea & a slice. Ah memories.

 This nostalgia trip leads me nicely on to the latest release from Big Finish – The Sacrifice of Sherlock Holmes and right out of my comfort zone. To begin with this is not set in the foggy gas-lit victorian streets of Brett or the war time of Rathbone, no dear reader, this is an altogether stranger and more dangerous setting. This story is set in a cold, grey wet November in 1921, and Holmes is an old man past his prime, almost a relic from a more genteel age, the four stories also happen in quick succession over the space of twelve hours or so. Gone is the slow, ponderous pace that I have been so used to replaced by a manic sense of urgency and a situation that very very soon gets out of control and has our heroes on the back foot.

 Normally I would break this down in to a review of all four stories as separate entities, but they really are just all chapters in an epic so here we go:

The Society – a group of terrorists whom Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Briggs) accuses of the murder of his brother Mycroft through his eulogy at Mycroft’s funeral. Holmes as always is correct, but this day is going to be one of the most trying days of his long and distinguished career for The Society have a plan to bring London and the British Empire to its knees, they will commit an terrorist atrocity every half an hour until the British Government decides to parlay with them and meet their demands. Time really is of the essence in this story and this really does not play well with Holmes’ method, he is used to meticulously taking in the evidence, but here he is almost blundering about like a headless chicken as the horrifying events of the day almost overtake him. At his side as always is the dependable Dr John Watson (Richard Earl) who’s marital strife with his third wife Eleanor (Elizabeth Rider) is being used as a tool by The Society to further their ends.

Ladies and gentlemen – we are in never experienced before territory for a Sherlock Holmes set – a fast paced, action packed blockbuster very much in the mould of TV series 24 – the stakes begin high and throughout the four episodes are raised again and again to almost a stratospheric threat level. And then there is Agamemnon (Alan Cox) the main “villain” of the piece, head of The Society and a face from Holmes & Watson’s past – utterly deranged, a complete split personality who genuinely believes that he and his insane plan to assert the agenda of The Society is the correct thing to do – murder, terorrism, viral warfare and a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Government of the British Empire – it really is end of days epic stuff with a fair few tearjerking moments in episode four, I wont spoil anything but you will know them when you hear but just to say one just involves the word “loved”….

Would Taid approve though? It is a million miles away from the sedate pace of Rathbone & Brett – but I think the late great William Edward would heartily approve of Messers Briggs & Earls’ take on the great man & the redoubtable Dr – and for me they pass the “visual listening” test I put my Big Finish listens through, because as I hear Holmes speak I see Mr Briggs speaking the words in costume as Holmes and can think of no other playing the part at the moment – Briggs & Earl have passed the test, they enter into the realm of all time great Holmes & Watson actors, they occupy the parts so much that the words Sherlock Holmes makes me think of them almost as much as strong tea & a current slice :-)

 A high octane roller coaster ride of an adventure that really does leave the listener gasping for breath at the events that take place on that fateful November day in 1921. Holmes & Watson may be old but they are by no means past it and bring their skills to a new age with a new determination. I raise my mug of tea to them & gladly share my currant slice at 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in August 2016. It will be exclusively available to purchase from the BF website until 30th September 2016, and on general sale after this date.

After the Judgement… Sacrifice must be made

On a cold, wet, unforgiving day in the November of 1921, London is under attack.

Drawn from retirement to combat the menace, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are forced, without warning, to confront old enemies and new threats – and an evil which has been waiting for decades to exact its revenge…

Part 1: The Prophet in the Rain

It begins with the sound of rain upon the windowpane, with a woman who claims to speak to the dead, with an enemy stepping out into the storm and with the unfolding of a savage and merciless scheme to bring London to its knees. Only our elderly detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes, seems to sense upon the wind the scent of approaching disaster…

Part 2: The Body in the Garret

The attack upon the city is escalating. The death toll is rising. And the agents of the Society are everywhere, even in the unlikeliest of places. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson – outflanked by events and outfoxed by their opponents – are forced to confront the limitations of their abilities in this strange new era as, all around them, the fire continues to spread.

Part 3: The Beast in the Darkness

With Dr Watson held captive by the enemy, a badly wounded Holmes races against the clock to confront the mastermind behind the brutal tragedies of the day. But will the Council of Priam help or hinder him in his attempt to stem the rising tide of madness?

Part 4: The Shadow in the Water

At last all of the players are brought together for a final confrontation. The warrior. The psychic. The detective. The doctor. And something else – something which has, for decades, been waiting in the darkness and biding its time, waiting for Sherlock Holmes’ last stand…

Written By: Jonathan Barnes
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Nicholas Briggs (Sherlock Holmes), Richard Earl (Dr John Watson), Tracey Childs(Mrs Edgar Curbishley), Jeremy Clyde (Lord Felix Happerton/Rackham), Jamie Hinde (Colonel Giles Stoddart), Joe Jameson (Alistair Baxter/Midshipman Boyle),Alan Cox (Agamemnon), Frances Marshall (Mrs Jemima Blake), Jamie Newall(William Tallow/Sir James Burton), Elizabeth Rider (Mrs Eleanor Watson),Christopher Naylor (Alfie Carnehan/Captain Richard Avary), Natalie Burt (Miss Vivienne Scott). Other parts portrayed by the cast

Producer Nicholas Briggs, Line Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Ken Bentley
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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With Mel back on board the TARDIS the new trilogy of adventures for her, Seven, Ace continues in Fiesta of the Damned. Whereas last months was a slick clever postmodern take on a heist movie, this release is a very traditional Doctor Who story in its construction, which is no bad thing as we have not had one for a while. Its an opportunity to step back and enjoy the bread and butter of why we all love Doctor Who so much and why it has lasted so very long – this is a “pseudo historical” very much along the lines of The Time Meddler or The Masque of Mandragora where the TARDIS team arrive in an earth historical setting but encounter an alien menace – and the setting they find themselves in is very interesting.

 Fiesta of the Damned is set in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War and involves the TARDIS team wanting a taste of the real Spain, but instead falling in with the remnants of a Republican army who are on the run from Franco’s Fascist Nationalist army. The troops are led by the charismatic Juan Romero (Enzo Sqillino Jnr) who before the war was a Farmer and just wants to go back to being a farmer – but as a man of conviction he is doing what he feels is the right thing. There is also a plucky english journalist reporting on the war George Newman (Christopher Hatherall). Arriving in the middle of a nationalist bombing raid the Republicans, George & team TARDIS head to the nearby town of Farissa for shelter. So far, so traditional in its construction, the story even satisfies the original remit of the show by being educational – I found myself learning some interesting facts about the origins of the civil war and of the terrible aftermath which left tens of thousands of Republicans executed and General Franco as dictator of Spain for 36 years.

 As I said earlier though, this is a pseudo historical and does have an alien threat, an alien seeding device which transforms anything it comes into contact with into, well, a sort of hotchpotch alien creature made up of all the species that it has assimilated over the years – if you think of the Tula spaceship and how it “repaired” people in The Empty Child you wont be far wrong – the seeding becomes a zombie like infection but transmitted via touch rather than bite and as the Doctor, Ace & George try to stop it at its source, Mel is teamed up with Juan as the town of Farissa falls under siege to the infected humans.

 The story is very much a throwback to sixties & seventies Who, but the characterisation is really something special. Big Finish have done wonders in the past giving Bonnie Langford’s Mel a more rounded, likeable and believable character and this is added to in this story as we see a blossoming but ultimately doomed romance with Juan, their conversations about the nature of war and going back to the life you had after it is all over are moving and full of pathos. Mel has a wistful & mature quality to her that was missing on TV and scenes like she has in this story only confirm what a missed opportunity her TV appearances were.

So a story of no surprises but a story of immense character and a story that has fired my passion for history & made me want to find out more about the Spanish Civil War. It may be an old school Fiesta but it has definitely passed its MOT – 7/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in August 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date.

In search of “a taste of the real Spain”, the TARDIS transports the Doctor, Ace and rejoined crewmember Mel not to sizzling Fuerteventura, or the golden sands of the Costa Brava – but to 1938, amid the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.

Having fallen in with a rag-tag column of Republican soldiers, the time and space travellers seek shelter from Franco’s bombers in the walled town of Farissa – only to discover themselves besieged by dead men returned to life…

Written By: Guy Adams
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Enzo Squillino Jnr (Juan Romero), Christopher Hatherall (George Newman), Owen Aaronovitch (Antonio Ferrando/Control Unit), Tom Alexander (Luis/Phillipe). Other parts portrayed by the cast.


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If you cast your minds back to the finale of Doctor Who series 5 (the Matt Smith one not the Troughton one) and the episode The Big Bang there is a rather elongated pre-credits sequence which ends up with little Amy Pond opening the Pandora to find older Amy Pond inside said plot device, on which the older Pond says something like “hold on kid, this is where it gets complicated”, well dear readers that phrase is an apt description of the finale of the fifth series of Fourth Doctor stories from Big Finish – Casualties of Time.

This is not a story for the feint hearted or uninitiated on to the audio world of Doctor number 4 and Romana (or Ramona if you like to deliberately annoy her like Cuthbert does) – this story goes all the way back to The Key to Time in its roots taking in the Cuthbert stories from audio series 2 for seasoning and simmering with a pinch of foreshadowing that has been haunting this latest season Oh and its also the second part of the season finale started last month with The Pursuit of History (which you can buy HERE and the review is HERE)

 So what can I say about Casualties of Time? Well, its complicated and involves Cuthbert (David Warner) and the Conglomerate that he controls – it also features a villain who was revealed at the end of The Pursuit of History and who I will NOT be revealing the identity of here – but he is played by David Troughton. However as much as this is an epic about time travel and long hatched plots of revenge when you peel back the layers this really is a story about redemption and knowing the part you play in the greater good – its almost A Christmas Carol like – and not only for one character, because what we think we know is only half of the story and perspective is everything. It also features the Parrot I was so enamoured of in the last episode.

 A story of paradoxes and plots and redemption with an Adams-esque take on the more preposterous aspects of Sci-Fi and a charm that is all Nick Briggs all wrapped up in a nice Season 17 level of silliness (again space Parrot = certified brilliance) and a rather satisfying if confusing end to the season that really doesn’t pan out as you expect it to. Not a casualty of a story more of a heartwarming reaffirmation that there is good in everyone 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in August 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date

The TARDIS crew have unknowingly become embroiled in a web of deceit. A trap has been laid across time and they have no possible means of escape. Destiny has ensnared them.

The Doctor is finally getting the chance to see the Conglomerate’s work at first hand. Romana is working to save the alien Laan once and for all. K9 is returning to Ancient Britain in search of an unusual power source.

The Doctor, Romana and K9.

Today one of them will die.

Note: This adventure continues from Doctor Who: The Pursuit of History

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9/The Oortag),David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), David Troughton (The Black Guardian/Edge), Jez Fielder (Drudger/Ecidien Cerebus Bird/The White Guadian/Salonu Prime), Jane Slavin (The Laan/Conglom-net Computer/Salonu).


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We have had shocks, scares, adrenaline fuelled chases and emotional meltdowns. We have had Cardiff buddy movies, Victorian romps and Russian mysteries. But we have not had anything remotely like this. Ever. Ladies and gentlemen I have gone down the rabbit hole, left Kansas and found Narnia at the back of my wardrobe – I have been listening to the last in the current series of Torchwood – “Made You Look” and this really is a whole new world (not in the Aladdin sense) for Torchwood.

 I could use words like creepy or atmospheric or unnerving – these just do not do it justice. Yes it is all of these things in fact the whole play has a nightmarish creeping dread to it and a downbeat lo-fi feeling. Yes, creeping dread, that horrible feeling that you get when you think something awful is about to happen – it permeates the being of Made You Look like nothing I have listened to so far this year, or in a very very long time – the last time I was this disturbed by an audio was possibly Dark Shadows – “The House by the Sea” or “Beyond the Grave”. This for me is the audio equivalent of Eraserhead or Jacobs Ladder, two films that have always stayed with me as particularly nightmarish, not due to gore or scares but due to the feelings they engendered.

 So what is this lo-fi nightmare all about? It stars Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Marilyn Le Conte as Mrs Rhodes, Ross Ford as James and Matthew Gravelle as The Darkness. A very small cast and a small scale happening. Gwen is investigating the seaside town of Talmouth, a town that has literally died. No one has gone in or out for days, no communication at all – everyone (well pretty much everyone) has vanished. After a disturbing pre-credits we join Gwen in Talmouth an deserted out of season seaside town, empty, dead, forgotten and we begin to unravel the visceral primal horror that has occurred there. There is a voice, a silky, smooth, urbane persuasive voice, it needs you to turn around and if you see him three times then you die, horribly, really horribly. And thats it really, thats all I can say without ruining the story. It goes to some really dark places – the sequence on the beach is particularly haunting in a Silent Hill sort of way – it gets under the skin and stays with the listener in the imagery it creates, this really is not a release for the feint hearted.

 As always when I listen to an audio I listen to it visually – this release for me was filmed in the style of the early 1970’s Amicus films, quite washed out looking and lots of fast cuts – and whist mentioning the 1970’s the sound design is a pure horror nostalgia trip, the theme that follows the story is haunting and downbeat and suits the atmosphere of the story completely.

 There have been some fantastic releases from Big Finish so far this year, and no disrespect to them but “Made You Look” raises the game to a whole new level. With this release Big Finish have a strong contender for release of the year. So, no scores, no pithy comments, just go out and buy yourselves a copy. Oh, and watch out for a voice asking you to turn around……

Made You Look ;-)

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in August 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

“It stalks you. It whispers. It wants you to turn around. It wants you to look. But if you do… If you see it…”

Talmouth is a lonely seaside town. No-one has heard from it for days. No-one who goes in comes out. Something has happened to Talmouth. Has it been taken over by aliens? Or is it something far, far worse?

Gwen Cooper’s come to Talmouth to find out. What’s happened has to be seen to be believed. But by the time you’ve seen it, you’re already dead.

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

Written By: Guy Adams
Directed By: Scott Handcock


Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Matthew Gravelle (Darkness), Marilyn Le Conte (Mrs Rhodes), Ross Ford (James)

Produced by James Goss
Script edited by Steve Tribe


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So, Rufus Hound eh? Comedian, actor, Whovian and all round affable chap. Rufus Hound reading a Short Trip. Rufus Hound reading a short trip and obviously having a ball – because his sheer joy at being involved in the project is obvious from the life that he brings in to the story. But why Mr Hound, usually these stories are read by a companion from the time? Well dear reader, for those of you who are spoiler averse then read no further and go and listen to The Black Hole available here and review here.  Have you all gone, done that and are up to date? Then I will continue.

 As well as narrating Rufus plays The Meddling Monk in this Short Trip reprising his role from The Black Hole and this story sees him arrive early in the Pertwee era, sometime after The Silurians and make the Doctor an offer her cannot refuse – he offers to take him off earth to travel with him. Unfortunately the Time Lords are not so easily outwitted and soon The Doctor, Monk & Liz Shaw are stranded on a Dolphin (them of the eyebrow communication) spaceship. To make it worse the ship is on a collision course.

 What writer Ian Atkins has achieved in this story is an examination of what it is for a Time Lord to be stranded – the Monk describes it to Liz in terms I had not considered previously, and what a terrible thing that has been done to the Doctor stranding him on Earth, but also what a terrible thing that The Doctor did to the Monk stranding him in the TV story The Dalek’s Masterplan, because if stranding the Monk did one thing, it gave him a lot of time to think of a suitable bit of payback.

 An excellent character study of both the Doctor & the Monk written in shades of grey with Liz Shaw as the moral compass that both desperately need. I blame the blame game for my decision to award 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

To escape his Earth exile, the Doctor is prepared to make any bargain, come to any arrangement, or to do any deal with any devil – even if in this case the Devil wears a monk’s robes. But when past misdeeds start catching up with both the Doctor and the Monk, who can Liz Shaw trust when time is running out and death is rapidly approaching?

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor John Pritchard
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Ian Atkins
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


Rufus Hound (Narrator)


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The punctuation is a bit wrong in the title “Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 01” is the title but it should be punctuated differently in my opinion, but I will come back to this a bit later on.

 This is the first really overt mixture of “old Who”and “new Who” that Big finish have done – and why not (to quote Barry Norman) – when The Doctor meets The Weeping Angels, The Sycorax and the Judoon in the TV series when he is in his Tenth (or Eleventh depending on how you class John Hurt) incarnation he is aware of them and has definitely had encounters with them previously – and this box set tells part of that story. We have Five with the Weeping Angels, Six with the Judoon, Seven with the Sycorax and Eight with the new series incarnation of the Sontarans, complete with “Sontar -HAH!” chants, but even though the stories feature new monsters, the stories really do retain a classic era feeling, the Davison era story feels Davison, the Colin story really only could be a Colin story, the writers are respectful to the Doctor’s they are writing for whilst obviously relishing the new toys they have been given to play with. They fit into their respective eras like they have always been there – well time CAN be rewritten you know :-)

 So four very different stories all showcasing the strengths of their respective era’s and we begin with Doctor number Five…..

 1.1 Fallen Angels by Phil Mulryne

 I will now commit sacrilege. I was never that fussed on “Blink”. There, I have said it. I just didn’t see the fuss was all about. Moving statues, all that “timey-wimey” nonsense and not much of The Doctor – really not my cup of Earl Grey. So I wasn’t really looking forward to this one that much. How wrong can a man be??? Very wrong as it turns out as this one is a definite copper bottomed classic. Up there with THE classics of the classic era, this story can hold its head up high. Peter Davison is fast becoming my Doctor of choice in the Big Finish range – I never really got him on TV, but this years run of main range stories have really showcased his talents and Fallen Angels carries on this welcome trend. Now then. Weeping Angels, a VERY visual monster. Well….. yes. How could they work on audio?? They shouldn’t but they really do, this is a roller coaster ride. From the pre-credits sequence to the workshop of Michelangelo (Matthew Kelly) to the Sistine Chapel, to the catacombs beneath the Vatican, the pace never really lets up. The plot involves a secret priesthood named “The Cult of the three Angels” worshipping the Weeping Angels and using Michelangelo to “rescue” them from blocks of marble that they have become encased in. It also has a rather clever “timey-wimey” plot involving honeymooning couple Joel (Sacha Dhawan) & Gabby (Diane Morgan) being zapped back in time to 1500’s Italy. It also has a very clever in joke for fans of Blink towards the end that had me laughing out loud. A fantastic opening story.

 1.2 Judoon in Chains  by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

 Judoon, monosyllabic, authoritarian, literal creatures. Not a poetic bone in their body or so you would think. Old Sixie has always been the most verbose and poetic of the Doctor’s, so who better to feature in a tale of Courtroom grandstanding, victorian carnival’s and a very special Judoon who has found his sensitive side? The Judoon in question is Captain Kybo (Nicholas Briggs) and we meet him on trial in Victorian England for desertion from his regiment with his advocate none other than The Sixth Doctor, and he has a story to tell…..

Told as a Dickensian nightmare and with a slight feeling of David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” we see victorian values at their most abhorrent as Kybo is taken in by Circus owner Jonathan Jaggers Esq (Trevor Cooper) and used as an attraction in a freak show. Kybo really is the most interesting Judoon, his translator is broken yet he learns english, he writes poetry, he sees things in shades of grey rather than black and white and is an incredibly sympathetic character brought to life beautifully by Nick Briggs. The story also sees a conspiracy and cover up by a greedy corporation and a new beginning for a platoon of enlightened Judoon.

 1.3 Harvest of the Sycorax by James Goss

 Where the first two stories are set in the past, this one is in the far far future. And it is a very bleak future. The populace are controlled by designer viruses and designer mood enhancing chemicals. We meet the hero of the story Zanzibar Hashtag (Nisha Nayar) on a space station that has been invaded by The Sycorax, there is a vault on the station and The Sycorax will seemingly stop at nothing to get it open. Into this chaos arrives the chaotic Seventh Doctor, and then things really start to get interesting. The Sycorax are using blood control to make the denizens of the station do their will, but this time they have managed to procure some Time-Lord blood and are able to control The Doctor. This is the most light hearted story of the group, in fact i cannot really place where in Seven’s time line  this occurs, he is not as manipulative as his later person abut not as comedic as his season 24 persona. It also has a very very funny lead Sycorax played by Giles Watling who reminds me very much of Tim the Enchanter in Monty Python’s Holy Grail film, he gives hysterical speeches in a clipped high pitched voice, he also informs is that Sycorax “rock” quite often. A bit of an oddball of a story, but there really is nothing wrong with that.

 1.4 The Sontaran Ordeal by Andrew Smith

 And this brings us almost up to date. Many many years after his TV Movie appearance, Eight is involved in the early stages of the Time War, railing against the Time Lords and what they have become he arrives on the planet Drakkis – a planet devastated when the Time War entered real time and scarred it backwards and forwards in time forever.

Add to this mix an exiled Sontaran called Jask (Dan Starkey of “Hello Girl” fame), a Paladin named Sarana Teel (Jossette Simon) and a story that goes right to the heart of the Sontaran concept of honour and what it means to Jask. These are very much New Series Sontarans, complete with chants and the inflections of speech that their TV counterparts have, in fact General Stenk is played by Christopher Ryan (of “Mike the Cool Person” fame) who played a similar role on TV. At its heart this really is a story about honour and duty and doing the right thing for the right reasons whatever the consequences. It also goes some way with its denouement to explain why Eight became sick of the time war and what it was doing to him, how he couldn’t help people because of the perception of Time Lords, and why he needed to die and become the War Doctor. A story of hope and also a story of despair.

 At the beginning of this review, a very long time ago, I commented on punctuation – “Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 01” may be grammatically correct and also the name of the box set, I prefer this “Classic – Doctors! New Monsters!” because that REALLY does what it says on the tin. Its a classic (especially the first two stories) it features Doctors and New Monsters AND it enhances the characteristics of these monsters adding new layers to the mythos of the creatures whilst remaining completely rooted in each Doctor’s era. A Blinking, Stomping, Rocking, “HAH” – Ing classic set 10/10.

Written By Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date.

A brand new boxset of four adventures, featuring monsters from the new series of Doctor Who!

1.1 Fallen Angels by Phil Mulryne

2015: When sightseers Joel and Gabby Finch encounter a strange man in Edwardian cricketing garb in the Sistine Chapel, their honeymoon suddenly takes a terrifying turn.

1511: Michelangelo is commissioned to create some very special sculptures by a mysterious sect. But as he carves, angels seem to emerge fully-formed from the rock. Almost as if they are alive…

From Michelangelo’s workshop to the catacombs of Rome, the Fifth Doctor must keep his wits about him and his eyes wide open as he confronts the Weeping Angels.

1.2 Judoon in Chains  by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

The Sixth Doctor is no stranger to courtroom drama, but faces a very different challenge when he prepares to defend a most unusual Judoon.

After an environmental clearance mission goes wrong, Captain Kybo of the Nineteenth Judoon Interplantary Force is stranded in Victorian England, bound in chains, an exhibit in a circus show. But he has allies: Eliza Jenkins – known to audiences as ‘Thomasina Thumb’ – and the larger-than-life ‘clown’ in the colourful coat.

Uncovering a trail of injustice and corruption, the Doctor and Kybo soon find themselves on trial for their lives…

1.3 Harvest of the Sycorax by James Goss

In the far future, humanity has a remedy for everything. Whatever the problem, Pharma Corps has the answer and a designer disease tailored to every human’s blood-type. Zanzibar Hashtag has no need to be sad, scared, stressed, or depressed ever again.

That is, until vicious aliens arrive on her space station intent on opening its Vault. What will it mean for the human race if the Sycorax take control of what’s inside?

And when the Seventh Doctor arrives on the scene, can he convince Zanzibar to care about her life long enough to help him?

1.4 The Sontaran Ordeal by Andrew Smith

An instant of the Time War brings centuries of conflict to the planet Drakkis, and the Eighth Doctor is there to witness the terrible results.

A Sontaran fleet, desperate to join the epic conflict, follows in its wake to take advantage of the fallout. But when Commander Jask is beamed down to the ravaged surface, there is more to his arrival than first appears.

Soon, an unlikely champion joins forces with the Time Lord to fight for the future of her world, and together they must face the Sontaran Ordeal…

Written By: Phil Mulryne, Simon Barnard, Paul Morris, James Goss, Andrew Smith
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards


Fallen Angels 

Peter Davison (The Doctor) Sacha Dhawan (Joel Finch), Diane Morgan (Gabby Finch), Matthew Kelly (Michelangelo), Joe Jameson (Piero), Dan Starkey (Priest). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Judoon in Chains

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicholas Briggs (Captain Kybo), Kiruna Stamell (Eliza Jenkins), Trevor Cooper (Jonathan Jaggers Esq), Tony Millan (Justice Burrows/Jonty), Sabina Franklyn (Herculania) Nicholas Pegg (Business Owner). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Harvest of the Sycorax

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Nisha Nayar (Zanzibar), Jonathan Firth (Cadwallader), Rebecca Callard (Shadrak), Giles Watling (The Sycorax Chief)

The Sontaran Ordeal

Paul McGann (The Doctor), Josette Simon (Sarana Teel), Dan Starkey (Jask),Christopher Ryan (General Stenk/Flitch), Sean Connolly (Tag Menkin/Ensign Stipe).

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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I am sure it has been said before, but I will say it again – some stories just fit in a particular era. And whereas the Emma Peel & Tara King episodes could not have been made at any other time than the late 1960’s, the Doctor Keel episodes seem steeped in the ambiance of the early 1960’s or the long 1950’s that ended with The Beatles. All shot haircuts, smart suits, received pronunciation. Where you knew a villain was a villain because of his accent (working class, slimy or foreign) and where the heroes spoke properly and were thoroughly decent chaps. It really is a crying shame that only 2 and a bit episodes of the first series of The Avengers exists – but those that do showcase a completely different beast to what most people think of as The Avengers – studio bound, stagey, split in to “acts” almost like theatre for TV. And this level of authenticity for the era simply oozes from this latest Big Finish box set. From the dapper Steed (Julian Wadham) to the practical Keel (Anthony Howell) and all the supporting characters – they are what they are and they are most definitely of the era.

 In this penultimate box set of Lost Episodes there are three stories, one is a rare thing, an adaptation of an existing episode “The Frighteners” and this is where the set begins:

 6.1 The Frighteners by Berkeley Mather, adapted by Rae Leaver

 Steed and Keel become involved in an intimidation ring – a gang of “Frighteners” led by the rather nasty Deacon (Michael Lumsden) – they have been employed to scare off  upper class twit, confidence trickster and all round cad Jeremy De-Willoughby from rich young debutante Marilyn Weller (Eve Webster), you see her father Sir Thomas Weller (Hugh Ross) isn’t too fond of Jeremy (with good reason) so has gone to some rather extreme methods to get rid of him….

A story very of its time, with the class structure being completely upheld (and satirised) – its ok if someone is a cad and a layabout, but working class origins – good lord no!!! And is a very faithful adaptation of the TV original – it feels claustrophobic, studio bound, violent and seedy – a very noir beginning to the set.

 6.2 Death on the Slipway by Ian Potter, from a storyline by James Mitchell

 If you were asked to come up with a cold war thriller set in a shipyard I don’t think you would be far off what we have here. Intrigue, blackmail, stiff upper lips, dodgy “foreign types” and Steed having his suit ruined by oil. Again feeling just like early 1960’s TV – Steed investigates the murder of one of his colleagues under cover at a shipyard that is developing a special Submarine – but one of the staff there is being blackmailed into helping an enemy agent.

Very “of its time” very “Cold War”, you can tell who the villain is because he has an eastern european accent. This aside the hold he has over his victim for blackmail is rather tragic and he manipulates a man who is genuinely decent but has made an awful mistake. Very “Keel Lite” leaving Julian Wadham as Steed to carry the episode which he does with swagger, vigour and charm – he simply IS Steed – oh and Steed’s mysterious boss One-Ten makes an appearance played by the fabulous Dan Starkey of “hello girl” fame, love his and Steed’s interplay. Very good indeed.

 6.3 Tunnel of Fear by John Dorney, from a storyline by Terrence Feeley

 The Avengers was always off the wall, and for an early epode this is pretty left field. A Ghost Train at a Southend seaside is the venue for the latest attempt to smuggle information over the Iron Curtain – and while Dr Keel teams up with ex con Harry Black (Pete Collis) Steed makes himself at home as boss of the belly dancing attraction, and seems very taken with the dancers and the role he has taken on. This is very “Avengers-ish” if that is a word. Espionage and villains hiding in the world of vaudeville and surrealism – its not the full Peel or King, but it certainly has one foot in the wry and odd with fortune tellers, dancers, fairground rides and hypnotism all playing their parts.

 So another triumph of a set, acted in the style of the era, produced and directed in the style & with a soundtrack that fits right in with the era – I am so glad that these episodes are being recreated, but a double edged sword is that there is just one more set to go and the whole run has been recreated. For now though I will savour the fine vintage that is Volume 6 and in honour of Steed’s boss One-Ten I award it Nine-Ten.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until August 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Steed and Dr Keel return to action in these three recreations of classic lost episodes.

6.1 The Frighteners by Berkeley Mather, adapted by Rae Leaver

If you need someone scared off, you speak to the Deacon.

Steed and Keel are on the trail of an intimidation expert whose services have recently been acquired by a wealthy businessman. But as they head deeper and deeper into this seedy world, who do they really have to stop. And who do they have to save?

6.2 Death on the Slipway by Ian Potter, from a storyline by James Mitchell

When a fellow agent is killed, Steed is sent undercover at a government dockyard to find the killer. Can he sort the truth from the lies and track down the enemy infiltrator hunting for top secret plans before it’s all too late?

6.3 Tunnel of Fear by John Dorney, from a storyline by Terrence Feeley

Southend. A perfect spot for a family holiday – or for a traitor to hide.

Somewhere in the town lurks a spy ring that is smuggling out classified information. When his old mole is attacked, and with innocent lives at risk, Steed takes Keel to the seaside for a far from sunny time.

Written By: Adapted by John Dorney, Rae Leaver, Ian Potter
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Anthony Howell (Dr Keel), Julian Wadham (John Steed), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Carol Wilson), Hugh Ross (Sir Thomas Weller), Eve Webster (Marilyn Weller), Michael Lumsden (The Deacon), Laurence Spellman (Moxon), Chris Pavlo (Nature Boy),Ferdy Roberts (Kolchek), Jon Culshaw (Sir William Bonner), Niky Wardley (Liz Wells), Barnaby Edwards (Sam Pearson), Dan Starkey (One-Ten), Pete Collis(Harry Black), Charlotte Strevens (Mrs Black), Amy Embank (Claire), Tony Turner(Wickram), Charles Davies (Maxie Lardner)

Other roles played by the cast


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It started with a funeral. It ended with an economy class seat and in-between was a bit of a classic would be the short form of this review. Long time readers will know that I don’t do short, I tend to ramble on and on and on with flights of fancy – so I won’t disappoint here.

 But it does start with a funeral (you can hear part 1 for free here) – its the funeral of one “Lefty Lonnegan”, half human half cyborg crime boss, retired to the “costa del crime” planet of Ricosta, Lonnegan is also the erstwhile partner of one Sabalom Glitz who is also the erstwhile business partner of one Melanie Jane Bush. Yes, this is the story where Mel (Bonnie Langford) comes back. I know she has never really been away as she has been a star with Big Finish since almost the beginning – and they have made her a much more rounded and likeable character than she was on TV. But this is the story set after her final appearance in Dragonfire and where we find out about the intervening time with Glitz. But its not just about Mel, oh no, its a lot more complicated than that – this is a story of two halves, what starts as a long con turns into an invasion story. It also has a non linear story structure with Mel’s thread and The Ace/Doctor threads happening at different times and then dovetailing quite nicely at the end of part two.

 So the plot – there really is not a lot I can say without giving away spoilers, there are criminals, a bank job, a rather vile species of alien banker called the Speravores who delight in absorbing the potential futures of their victims. Unlike the TV series the non linear narrative works to the stories benefit and fit together perfectly, logically and as a listener I felt rewarded and enlightened rather than frustrated and cheated.

 But this is Mel’s story really – and there is a knockout scene between her and The Doctor where they discuss how each other have changed in the intervening time, Mel expresses her disappointment at the machiavellian path that Seven has taken whilst the Doctor is appalled at how Glitz has apparently been a bad influence on Mel. But sometimes in a friendship you have to dig beneath the surface to fins out real motivations as the Doctor & Mel both find out. And as this is Mel’s story, I have to give praise to Bonnie Langford as Mel, a more worldly wise, wily and less perky Mel, a more mature Mel. She has changed, we all change, but she has changed whereas Ace is very much the same calling Mel “Doughnut” much to Mel’s annoyance.

 This is a fab story, one that really does keep you on your toes as the tone changes so very quickly – it also sets up a potential new villain for the upcoming trilogy and a mystery as to why they have caught up with Mel at all…

 What begins great caper of a story reintroducing and updating a classic companion and giving her some very believable character development ends as an exercise in cause and effect and a ride in economy class – but this story is most definitely business class 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until August 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Come to Ricosta! Tropical climate, untouched beaches, fabulous cuisine… and no extradition treaties. The perfect retirement planet for a certain type of ‘business person’ – such as Ms Melanie Bush, formerly the co-owner of the Iceworld emporium, now on the run from her former criminal associate’s criminal associates…

Some other former associates of Ms Bush are abroad in this space Costa del Crime, however. Not long ago, the time and space traveller known as the Doctor arrived here, alongside his sometimes-criminal associate, the reformed juvenile offender Ace. But now the Doctor’s gone missing – and Melanie Bush is about to learn that on the planet Ricosta, the wages of sin… are death.

Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace),Ginny Holder (Gloria/Secretary), Des McAleer (Lefty Lonnigan), Stephen Hagan(Nathan Later), Harry Myers (Atomon/Sperovore Banker/Steward), John Banks(Mayor/Sperovore Auditor/Sperovore Financer). Other parts portrayed by the cast.



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When I was listening to last months release – The Trouble With Drax there was a throwaway line that intrigued me, and then I completely forgot about it. I was reminded of it straight away with this release. Memo to self, pay attention and remember what you are paying attention to because it may well be important. In this case it seems to have been an important plot point involving a Parrot. And The Pursuit of History begins (well not quite but the first TARDIS scene) begins with Romana and K9 in pursuit of said overlooked Parrot. Its a Parrot that the Doctor seems to want to ignore, and it seems to be reciting phrases from The Doctor (albeit in the style of Terry Jones as a Pepper-pot in Monty Python) so at this point I am both intrigued and amused.

 Ladies and gentlemen we are in season finale mode – the little hints and tidbits for the more discerning (or more attentive) listener are all coming together and an old enemy is making a reappearance. The old enemy in this case is Cuthbert (David Warner) head of the Conglomerate, last seen in an alliance of sorts with the Daleks and Cuthbert has a plan to increase the Conglomerates profits involving robbing a train in 1850’s Yorkshire and selling the proceeds of the robbery to the finance minister of Earth’s Oceanic zone 200 years later – so far so Scaroth. But there is something else bubbling in the background a plan that Cuthbert’s machiavellian capitalism may only be a small part of.

 Right from the off you get the feeling that you are listening to something rather epic, the tone whilst still very much of Season 17 is more City of Death than Horns of Nimon and you really do get the feeling of an age old plan coming to fruition and that the Doctor and Romana are completely out of their depth only seeing part of the bigger picture.

 David Warner never ceases to amaze in any parts he plays for Big Finish – he is another of those actors who bring out the best in Tom Baker – their verbal sparring just sparkles and Lalla Ward is at her haughty best when confronting Mr Dorrick (Toby Hadoke) again and explaining that she is the same Romana he has encountered before.

 Nick Briggs has crafted an excellent opening story for the finale, it really does feel like “all bets are off” for the final story because the stakes keep getting higher and higher and then there is the cliffhanger to episode two. Not saying any more apart from the fact that I was driving at the time of listening, actually heading in to Conwy, waiting in a queue of traffic and I got a very odd look from a Dog walker as I was sitting there shouting “NOOOO”. Its one of those sort of cliffhanger.

 So, Parrots, train robberies, economic chicanery and a threat level ramped up to 11 – can’t be bad for an opening gambit and a well deserved 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until August 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

On a brisk winter’s morning in 1850s Yorkshire, Cuthbert, head of the intergalactic business known as ‘The Conglomerate’ prepares to hijack a very special train.

In the far future, his assistant, Mr Dorrick is awoken by howling alarms. There is a problem with the Quantum Gateway.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor, Romana and K9 detect strange distortions in the Vortex, an energy stream coming from a strange creature called a Laan.

The threads of a plan centuries in the making are coming together. But who is behind this plan? And can anyone possibly escape when history is against them?

Note: The adventure continues in Doctor Who: Casualties of Time

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9),  David Warner(Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), David Troughton (Mr Edge), John Dorney(David Goddard/Oceanic Airforce Commander), Lisa Bowerman (Conglom-Net Computer/Oceanic Airforce Pilot) Jez Fielder (Neville Sanders/Drudger/Ecidien Cerebus Bird/Albert Chatterton/The White Guardian/Salonu Prime), Jane Slavin (The Laan/Salonu). Other parts played by members of the cast.


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There is a film, its one of my all time favourite called “Lost Highway” directed by David Lynch. The first line is “Dick Laurent is dead” and then it goes to some very very strange places. This months very special Counter Measures release could possibly start with the line “Sir Toby Kinsella is dead” – its not a spoiler, the story is called “Who Killed Toby Kinsella”, so we know he is dead. But not quite at the beginning he isn’t – he is assassinated by a mystery gunman about 20 minutes in to episode one, and this in turn starts off a chain of events that lead to the “New Counter Measures” which will be with us in December. But lets look at this story, in fact lets look at Counter Measures.

 Counter Measures are a spin off from the Doctor Who TV story “Remembrance of the Daleks” featuring Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams), Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem) & Allison Williams (Karen Gledhill) all reprising their roles. Its a very 1960’s ITC style of adventure – it feels like a TV film series of the era – added to the mix for the audio spin off was the character of Sir Toby Kinsella (Hugh Ross) – the man in charge of Counter Measures, a civil servant, a slimy, amoral, but strangely very likeable character – he led Counter Measures through four box sets set around the early 1960’s and made some very questionable decisions for the greater good and the security of the world.

 This special release takes place at Christmas 1973 – Counter Measures have long since been disbanded – Ian, Rachel & Allison are all in hiding under assumed names, all presumed dead – this i the Britain of power cuts, economic uncertainty and the three day week and a Prince form the Middle East Hassan Al-Nadyr (Raad Rawi) is in the UK on a trade mission but Toby Kinsella thinks his life is in danger and is killed when trying to protect him at the Opera. The death of Toby Kinsella brings the Counter Measures team out of hiding to track down the killer of their old boss and uncover a conspiracy stretching back to Toby’s time in University….

 This story has a very 1970’s feeling, the theme tune has been updated and the news of strained relations with the Middle East and an oil crises ground this in the early 1970’s – it has the feeling of a Sunday night drama that should be on at 21:00 on the BBC rather than an ITC film series – more “Tinker Tailor” than “Man In A Suitcase”  - this feels like a real world only slightly removed from our own where the characters have real concerns and the past is a very very dangerous place that is now reaping revenge.

The Counter Measures team fit perfectly into this conspiracy thriller – but they are on the outside looking in and themselves rogue elements rather than at the centre of things.

 Although he is dead, Sir Toby’s spectre haunts the proceedings – every move made is haunted by his memory and the events that unfold come from seeds that he planted in his University days.

 As a conspiracy thriller this is top notch, layers within layers within layers of plot are presented to the listener and there are many “lightbulb moments” as well as heart pounding action sequences.

But its not just a conspiracy thriller, its a pilot for “The New Counter Measures” and it certainly sets the scene and whets the appetite for more adventures of the reunited team plus a few new additions. Marching forward with confidence into the 1970’s – Toby Kinsella is dead, but the New Counter Measures live on. 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until August 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

A special feature-length release, forging a new era for Counter-Measures!

It’s Christmas 1973. Nearly ten years have elapsed since the Counter-Measures group vanished. Only one of the remaining members is officially alive. But that is about to change.

When Sir Toby is killed by an enigmatic assailant, his friends fly in from around the globe to attend the funeral where they discover that the truth of their colleague’s murder lies hidden in his past.

A dangerous killer is out for revenge. A terrible assassination is planned. When ghosts walk the street, there’s only one team you need.

1. Who Killed Toby Kinsella? by John Dorney

2. The Dead Don’t Rise by Ken Bentley

Written By: John Dorney, Ken Bentley
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore), Pamela Salem (Rachel Jenson), Karen Gledhill (Allison Williams), Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella), Raad Rawi (Prince Hassan Al-Nadyr), Justin Avoth (Mikhail), Belinda Stewart-Wilson (Overton), Ian Lindsay (Routledge), Jot Davies (Avery), Alan Cox (Fanshawe). Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Producer David Richardson

Script Editor John Dorney

Story by Ken Bentley

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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With the bar set so high by last months release “Moving Target” this one had to be something rather special. And it is. And it is as different from “Moving Target” as it is possible to be. This is a study in grief. Not teenage angst or self indulgence but pure unadulterated human grief. And the man suffering is none other than Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd).

 This story is set within the first televised series of Torchwood from the time of “Cyberwoman” to “They Keep Killing Suzie” and follows Ianto as he pours his heart out to barmaid Mandy Albiston (Melanie Walters).

 Ianto is broken – truly broken and lost and alone. His girlfriend Lisa is dead, he has no friends, he is estranged from his family and he loathes his boss Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) because he is the one that killed Lisa. His only friend in the world is Mandy, Mandy understands, Mandy is there for him when no one else is with a piece of sage advice, or a pint, she is Ianto’s only friend, she is the one person Ianto turns to.

 Ianto paints a picture of a cold uncaring Jack Harkness – someone who just keeps on keeping on with no time for the emotional problems of his staff – mission after mission after mission, horrific encounters, death does not seem to have an effect on Jack – but Ianto on the other hand is emotionally destroyed – and he only has Mandy to turn to and Mandy is always there with a friendly word and a pint….

 A very very different take on a Torchwood tale. We have become used to the frantic pace of the “Cardiff Buddy Movie” format, this is an altogether more pensive release, slow and brooding which suits the downbeat confessional nature of the story and this story lets Ianto bear his soul. And just when you think things really cannot get any bleaker, redemption may just arrive in a bitter sweet phone call.

Another excellent release and a completely different take on the Torchwood format, and whilst the story and the content are a difficult listen, the release is very rewarding and adds another building block to the Jack/Ianto relationship that ran through the series – the denouement really does seem earned by all the players, the reward may not be what they were looking for but it is most definitely what they need.

 What we have here is an emotional car crash of a story, a study in what can happen if we let grief consume us and see our friends as enemies, and a warning that redemption may not always be at the bottom of a pint glass. Broken but with a cure maybe in the distance 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in July 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Whenever Ianto Jones has a tough day at work, he has somewhere he can hide. And, for Ianto Jones, it’s always a tough day at work.

His girlfriend is dead, his colleagues don’t trust him, and his boss… his boss is something else. With no friends in the world, and his life in danger every day, is it any wonder that at night, Ianto Jones goes to the pub?

Ianto’s local becomes somewhere where he feels safe. Safe from his demons, safe from his life, safe from Torchwood. Until one evening, Captain Jack Harkness walks into a bar….

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

Written By: Joseph Lidster
Directed By: Scott Handcock


John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones),Melanie Walters (Mandy Aibiston), Eiry Thomas (Glenda), Ross Ford (The Saviour)

Produced by James Goss

Script edited by Steve Tribe

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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Like a bus, you wait ages for a Dark Shadows special release and then two come along at at the same time – but there the similarity ends, there Blood and Fire was a lavish bodice ripping period piece this release takes a much quieter approach – hardly any incidental music, minimal sound effects – Echoes of the past goes the “unplugged” route of just an actor, a script and a recording booth. Four stories about four integral characters to the Dark Shadows saga, Reverend Trask, Quentin Collins, Maggie Evans & Angelique Bouchard with each of their stories read by the actor that played them in the TV Series – Jerry Lacey, David Selby, Kathryn Leigh Scott & Lara Parker – the Trask story is actually written by Jerry Lacy.

 The stories are all stand alone and centre on the character telling the story, but there is a thematic unity flowing throughout, themes of loss, regret and ambition. The stories are:

 Trask The Exorcist by Jerry Lacy

 A penniless and desperate Trask sees an opportunity when he is invited to perform an exorcism on the daughter of a local farmer – but during the exorcism he makes a bargain with the forces he has sworn to oppose to further his own ends. Track is a thoroughly despicable character, pious, cruel, small minded and a hypocrite of the highest order – everything he does in “Gods name” is for the greater glory of Trask and having the actor who played him on TV write and perform this story ensures it is in safe hands – Jerry Lacy does not pull any punches in painting a picture of the sort of man Trask is and the depths he will stoop to to further his own greedy, selfish ends.

 The Missing Reel by Ian Farrington

 Quentin Collins sits in a bar in Los Angeles in 1958 and is met by Eddie a film journalist and collector of old films. There is one film in particular he has become obsessed with, a classic of the silent era, a film about a Werewolf which has eight minutes missing and Eddie has traded the movie down, because the last remaining print with the missing 8 minutes still intact has just been purchased at auction by Quentin Collins. One man, David Selby as Quentin and a cracking script – I was transported back to a smoky bar in 1958, I could see the haze of smoke, the swirling ceiling fans, the sweat on Eddie’s brow, I could almost smell the cigarettes and whiskey. This is a cautionary tale and as Eddie finds out, its sometimes better NOT to know…..

 Lunar Tides by Philip Meeks

 Wistful and melancholy with a definite autumnal feel – Maggie Evans is looking forward to watching The Lunar Tides – a time where the moon is so strong that it takes the sea out a mile from Collinsport bay – but a visitor to Maggie’s hotel brings with her a mysterious mist and a plague and has a secret past linked to the earliest visitors to the new world. Kathryn Leigh Scott gives a very human reading of this story, her obvious love of the character of Maggie shines through.

 Confession by Paul Phipps

 The leading lady of Dark Shadows Angelique Bouchard rounds off this set of stories. Lara Parker gives a dramatic reading completely in character as she gives her confession. She tells story of her love of Barnabas and the extremes she has gone to protect him even when he didn’t know she was there. Angelique has an obsession with Barnabas that goes beyond love into the realms of mania, possessiveness and self destructiveness, because as much as she loves him, he doesn’t love her back.

 Small scale, character based stories with a great deal of depth, interludes in the lives of our protagonists, but in a strange way defining for them. An Echo of the past, but an echo that will cause ripples for the future 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Four tales of horror, romance and intrigue…

Trask The Exorcist by Jerry Lacy

A tired and hungry Reverend Trask is summoned to perform an exorcism. But when he meets Penelope Bascomb he will face the Devil’s greatest weapon… temptation.

The Missing Reel by Ian Farrington

Los Angeles, 1958. The world is changing – but then again, it always does. Only people with short lives assume things stay the same. When you’re immortal like Quentin Collins, you realize that it all moves at a lightning pace…

Lunar Tides by Philip Meeks

Maggie Evans knows everything. She knows what Barnabas has done and has banished him from the town. But who will help her when a mysterious mist descends on the town and the people of Collinsport start falling ill?

Confession by Paul Phipps

The witch Angelique sits alone in her cottage, writing a confession. But what is she confessing to? And why can’t she stop writing?

Written By: Jerry Lacy, Ian Farrington, Philip Meeks & Paul Phipps
Directed By: Ursula Burton


Jerry Lacy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker & David Selby


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50th Anniversaries – we love them don’t we? The grand daddy of them all was obviously our beloved Doctor Who’s 50th bash, but this year sees the 50th Anniversary of an altogether more obscure offering, that of Dark Shadows.

 For those unfamiliar, a potted history – Dark Shadows was a daily Gothic soap opera that followed the story of the Collins family from the town of Collinsport Maine. It ran for 5 years between June 1966 and April 1971. This was a soap with a difference, it had a brooding gothic feel akin to Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca”, permanently autumnal and brooding – it also featured Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Phoenix, Time Travel, Parallel Universes. Think Dynasty meets the Addams Family, meets Buffy meets Jane Austen and you wont be far from the mark.

 With the series ending in 1971 after 1225 episodes (all of which are available on DVD), a 1990’s revival killed by poor scheduling and a played for laughs Tim Burton big screen version it fell to the ever reliable Big Finish to keep the flame alive. And boy have they done that.

 Before reviewing the 50th Anniversary story “Blood and Fire” I think its worth taking a look at the Dark Shadows range and picking out a few choice stories to reel in the uninitiated.

 There are three distinct strands to the Dark Shadows releases – full cast, dramatic readings and Bloodlust. The bulk of the releases are the dramatic readings, for long time Big Finish fans who have not dipped their toes into Dark Shadows these are akin to the Doctor Who Companion Chronicles releases, one actor from the show interacting with another character, they are deep, character based stories and here are five of the best:

 The Wicked and the Dead by Eric Wallace

 The evil Reverend Trask wakes in a room in the house of Collinwood, he has been bricked up and left with a revolver as his only means of ending things – the ghost of Carl Collins appears to give him a chance at redemption.

 London’s Burning by Joseph Lister

 Quentin Collins meets up with his old friend Rosie Faye (Louise Jameson) during the Blitz in 1941, trapped in an underground station they reminisce about the time that they both investigated cases of spontaneous human combustion.

 The House by The Sea by James Goss

Colin Baker plays Gerald Conway, a new resident of Collinsport. He has had visions of a house by the sea for months and now he has found it. Genuinely creepy, played as a set of audio diaries – don’t listen alone. Really. Don’t.

 Beyond the Grave by Aaron Lamont

Possibly THE most frightening thing I have experienced – like an audio version of Ghost Watch, this one pulls no punches, its utterly terrifying.

 Panic by Roy Gill

A Quentin Collins story again and a rather sweet one in a funny sort of way – a dark fairy tale in a Pan’s Labyrinth meets Narnia sort of way – has to be heard to be appreciated.

 I can also highly recommend Bloodlust  a 13 part mini-series done in the style of a soap opera – its rather epic and centres on a series of murders – episode one is free here  and really sets the scene – the story is a classic murder mystery in the style of Broadchurch or Twin Peaks with a very Collinsport twist.

 Anyhow, thats the past, and a very rich past it is too – but this review is meant to be about the future – but this future is actually set in the past. Am I making sense? I will be (hopefully) if you read on.

 From the introduction of Barnabas Collins in the second year of Dark Shadows, the series moved up a gear, you see Barnabas was a Vampire, and he had a story. Cursed by his spurned lover the witch Angelique Bouchard (Lara Parker) their story set the tone for all gothic vampire romances to follow – Angelique hated Barnabas as much as she loved him and in this 50th anniversary story Angelique is given the opportunity to destroy the Collins family forever.

 Angelique is sent back in time by her master The Dark Lord (the Devil to you and me) to the year 1767 – Collinsport is a small fishing town, Collinwood House is still in the process of being built and a young widow Laura Murdoch Stockbridge (Joanna Going) is about to marry in to the Collins family. This has a period drama feeling, albeit a period drama with Zombies, Witchcraft, magic and time travel – I can imagine it as a lavish HBO production shown on Sky Atlantic and being billed as event TV. It has a HUGE cast of Dark Shadows alumni but the leading ladies steal the show, the Blood & the Fire of Angelique Bouchard & Laura Stockbridge. – two very powerful ladies who will in time shape the future of the Collins family – this is the very beginning, as early in the Collins’ story as we have gone and Angelique’s mission for her Dark Lord is hampered not only by history yet to come, but also by her love for Barnabas who if she succeeds will never be born – can her love be stronger than her hate?

 There is a lot here to adore for fans of Dark Shadows – its not quite a “Rabbit Hole” story to suck you in to the world of Barnabas, Angelique & Quentin – there is an awful lot of Collins family continuity tied up in the two and a half hour running time and long time fans will ohh and ahh there way through each actor who suddenly appears as one of their own ancestor whilst knowing the fate of poor tragic Laura has to happen.

 What really comes through in the writing is the great love that Roy Gill has for Dark Shadows and the care and attention to detail he lavishes on to the production – every thing is utterly faithful and beautifully constructed, Roy obviously cares a great deal about the show and its legacy, and I am happy to say that the future of Dark Shadows is safe in his and Big Finish hands. It also has a brilliant Elvira joke.

 Gothic, romantic and thrilling a period piece that goes back to the beginning whilst setting the tone for a new beginning, the blood pumps and the Phoenix rises and I award this sumptuous celebration 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

A two-hour adventure celebrating 50 years of Dark Shadows!

“Some are born with magic, some acquire magic, and others have magic thrust upon them…”

The year is 1767. Young widow Laura Murdoch Stockbridge is to marry Joshua Collins, heir to the Collins fortune. Meanwhile, Joshua’s sister Abigail is in love with disreputable sailor Abraham Harkaway.

But the course of true love never did run smooth… especially when the witch Angélique Bouchard is around.

For Angélique has been sent back in time. And she has one mission…

To destroy the Collins family forever.

Featuring cast from the original television series, Blood and Fire is a special audio drama to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dark Shadows.

Written By: Roy Gill
Directed By: Ursula Burton & Joseph Lidster


Lara Parker (Angélique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Patience Collins), Mitchell Ryan (Caleb Collins), Joanna Going (Laura Murdoch Stockbridge), Andrew Collins(Joshua Collins), Daisy Tormé (Abigail Collins), James Storm (Abraham Harkaway),Lisa Richards (Euphemia Spencer Stockbridge), Christopher Pennock (Uriah Spencer Stockbridge), Marie Wallace (Dorothea Summers), Nancy Barrett (Isobel Collins), David Selby (Theodore Collins), Matthew Waterhouse (Reverend Samuel Cunningham) and Jerry Lacy (Malachi Sands) with John Karlen (Alfred Loomis),Ursula Burton (Peggy Griffin), Alexandra Donnachie (Sarah Filmore), Scott Haran(Lamech Gifford), Walles Hamonde (Roderick Haskell), Daniel Collard (Robert Hanley), Michael Shon (Wolf) and Natalie Britton (Storm Elemental).

Produced by David Darlington, Joseph Lidster

Line Producer: David Richardson

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery, Nicholas Briggs


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So you have done the world spanning invasion epic in UNIT – Extinction, introduced a new UNIT team to battle alongside Kate & Osgood in the guise of Sam Bishop ( Warren Brown) and Josh Carter (James Joyce), where do you go next? Do you make the stakes even higher or do you do something a little different? Wisely Big Finish have done both – but whereas events were very public in Extinction, in Shutdown we are presented with a much more covert set of stories – yes they are world spanning and the threat level is huge but this is a story kept to the shadows and away from the gazer of the public – it is a lot more “black ops” than the last set.

 It begins with a pub quiz and ends with a hologram and in-between takes in Geneva, an epic battle at the Tower of London and a final confrontation in the Antarctic – its a heck of a journey and not everything is as it seems to begin with. Big Finish have come up with a fascinating new alien race – the Kamishi and their Ninja Assassin servants the Tengobushi. They are an alien race obviously based on Japanes culture and another ancient race who have been around from when the Universe was your, they have god-like powers and technology that is almost indistinguishable from magic – and its this technology that drives the story, you see a piece of this technology has fallen in to the hands of Felicity Lyme (Alice Krige) CEO of Lyme Industries and they are determined to exploit it for maximum profit – problem is The Kamishi are not keen on their tech being used and they want it back – and the whole world is about to get caught in the crossfire.

 The box set is split into four episodes:

 1 Power Cell by Matt Fitton

 A thriller, thats what this one is, an old fashioned hardboiled thriller. For Doctor Who fans, think of the first few episodes of The Invasion and you wont be far off the mark. This has it all – mysterious disappearances, a huge multi national with an arrogant yet charming leader – Felicity Lyme (Alice Krige), alien ninja assassins and before I forget Kate, Osgood, Josh & Sam. This is a very personal story for Osgood, she meets up with an old University friend Jay (Asif Khan) who is given the option of joining the UNIT team – problem is everyone who knows anything at all about the alien artefact that Lyme Industries have procured is going missing, because the alien Kamishi REALLY want their property back. From a slow start, this really builds in to something rather special with twists and turns you really wont expect and a far more gritty tone than I was expecting.

 2 Death in Geneva by Andrew Smith

 With no-one in the Government she can trust, Kate goes to Geneva to enlist the aid of General Grant Avary (Harry Ditson) but the Tengobushi with their leader Dokan (Dan Li) are already there and they have their eyes on Osgood. We go from hard boiled thriller to Hollywood action movie with incredible set pieces that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond film, lots of explosions, deaths and a conspiracy that goes deeper than we first expected, and an astounding cliffhanger

 3 The Battle of the Tower by Andrew Smith

 The stakes just get higher and higher – with the Kamishi & their Tengobushi foot soldiers gunning for Kate and co, Kate decides to put the Tower of London on lockdown – but the Kamishi are determined to get their property back even if it means a pitched battle in London – and that is exactly what they get, because this is not an enigmatic story title, it really does what it says on the tin and presents the Battle of the Tower of London. Its incredibly visual, the sound design and acting really do immerse you in the happenings, we are talking a Rourke’s Drift level of being outnumbered and outgunned by a hugely superior force, and UNIT as always rise to the occasion. Epic.

 4 Ice Station Alpha by Matt Fitton

 Rounding off the set is a jaunt to the Antarctic – Lyme Industries make their last stand against UNIT, and time is running out as the Kamishi mothership is on the way to destroy the earth. High stakes but low key, a covert invasion where who the “bad guys” are is a very very grey area. What really comes across in this episode is the commitment that the UNIT team have not only to each other but to the safety of the planet – with some willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the population.

 Akin to a James Bond film from the classic era, Shutdown is very much the “difficult second album” not as immediate or as epic as Extinction but a deeper more satisfying experience, a sort of Meat is Murder after The Smiths debut if you will. Kate & Osgood are already classic fan favourite characters & this set allows them to flex their character development muscles more than they ever could in a 45 minute TV episode, we even get to see what Osgood does when she isn’t doing “Sciency stuff”. With the awkward second album out of the way its full steam ahead to November and an appearance by, um, hold on I have forgotten (see what I did there) – however back Shutdown & I shut down this review by awarding 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until August 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Kate Stewart and her UNIT team investigate and confront alien attacks on the planet Earth in this new 5 disc boxset.

2.1 Power Cell by Matt Fitton

Osgood and Captain Josh Carter are sent to investigate the disappearance of a UNIT scientist.

Meanwhile, alien technology has fallen into the hands of Lyme Industries, and Kate Stewart can’t persuade the company’s CEO, Felicity Lyme, to give it back.

But UNIT find themselves fighting a third battle when innocent people start to die. Who are the mysterious assassins? And what does Felicity Lyme want with top secret alien technology?

2.2 Death in Geneva by Andrew Smith

With few people left to trust, and with assassins on their tail, Kate and Osgood race to UNIT Command in Geneva. Will General Avary be able to help them?

But when death follows UNIT all the way from the English countryside to the snowy slopes of the Alps, Captain Carter finds himself in a race against time.

As the body count rises, Kate struggles to separate friend from foe, danger circles Osgood ever closer, and, high in the mountains, Josh comes face to face with the enemy…

2.3 The Battle of the Tower by Andrew Smith

The threat is now clear, and Kate Stewart retreats to UNIT HQ with her most trusted colleagues. She has no choice but to place the Black Archive into lockdown, and the Tower of London is where UNIT will make its stand.

While the capital sleeps, an alien horde is gathering, ready to rise from the shadows to attack Earth’s greatest defence force inside its own stronghold.

The Tower is infiltrated, and UNIT must hold the line. At any cost. Lock and load…

2.4 Ice Station Alpha by Matt Fitton

Caught between human greed and an unstoppable alien power, Kate Stewart leads her closest allies on one final, desperate mission. This could be the very last chance for the human race.

But the UNIT team has been declared rogue, and ruthless military forces are in pursuit as they race across the globe. Kate calls Lieutenant Sam Bishop to their aid, while Josh and Osgood head out across the frozen Antarctic plains to try and prevent a disaster no-one else knows is coming.

Written By: Matt Fitton, Andrew Smith
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Sam Bishop), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Alice Krige (Felicity Lyme), Asif Khan(Jay Roy) Tyrone Huggins (Dr Kenton Eastwood), Nigel Carrington (Sir Peter Latcham), Beth Chalmers (Anna/Radio Announcer/Quizmaster), Harry Ditson(General Grant Avary), Dan Li (Dokan/Alien Leader), Akira Koieyama(Chiso/Tengobushi Assassins), Stephen Billington (Commander Bergam), Jot Davies (Sebastien/Major Disanto). Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Producer David Richardson

Script Editor Ken Bentley, Matt Fitton

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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The Second Doctor really wouldn’t have been the Second Doctor without his stalwart companion James Robert McCrimmon. Lets look at him – he was companion in every single Troughton story apart from The Power of the Daleks – so thats nearly three full seasons – but Jamie and the Doctor had a very special sort of bond, not brotherly, not father/son or teacher/pupil – a real and true respect for one another, and as much as Jamie learned from his travels with The Doctor, the Doctor learned about humanity from Jamie, because Jamie embodied all that was good and brave in human beings, even The Daleks recognised this. What the new series has in spades that the old series sometimes shied away from or overlooked was character progression. This box set from Big Finish even though it is billed as a Second Doctor Box Set is really a Jamie McCrimmon box set – it gives us four very Jamie-centric stories from different points in his travels with The Doctor, from the early days with Ben and Polly to almost the end sometime between The Space Pirates and the War Games and they chart Jamie’s progression from bright yet uneducated fish out of water to very much his own man using all the things he has experienced to save the day. The four stories really emphasise the difference between intelligence and learning and go on to prove that travel really does broaden the mind and expand your horizons.

 The Set is split in to four stories:

 1. The Mouthless Dead by John Pritchard

 Its the early 1920’s and the TARDIS team of the Second Doctor (played magnificently by Frazer Hines, its uncanny) Jamie (again Frazer Hines) Polly (Anneke Wills) & Ben (Elliot Chapman) arrive at a deserted railway station in the dark and in the fog – but there are figures waiting in the darkness, figures of the dead, of memories of long past and recent wars and there is also a signalman manning his signal box, because very soon a very important train is going to pass through. This is a very frightening story, part Dickens’ The Signalman, part Sapphire and Steel and with just a hint of Silent Hill – its a lot more overt horror than the Troughton era ever was on TV, and is a very welcome addition to the canon for trying something a little different with the era. As this is at the very beginning of Jamie’s time on the TARDIS he is portrayed as ignorant. Seen through Ben & Polly’s eyes his lack of knowledge and incredulity at steam trains and a whole world at war are quite parochial, like he is a noble savage that needs to be educated. But Jamie is much much more than this. The story itself is incredibly atmospheric and an interesting take on the Troughton era.

 2 The Story of Extinction by Ian Atkins

 I do like a good framing device – and this story has an excellent one. I also like a story that isn’t really about what the story is about (if you know what I mean) So where this story is dressed up as a typical Season 5 “base under siege” story it is actually a story about Jamie, his bond with Victoria (Deborah Watling) and how she finally gets some closure in their friendship. So the framing device is rather lovely – Victoria, now older and living in contemporary Britain has a break in, all that is taken is a piece of very special paper, and the thief even leaves a box in return……

The piece of paper that is stolen is Victoria’s only memento from her time on the TARDIS, its the piece of paper on which she taught Jamie to read and write. This is a lovely story, genuinely moving and another building block in the story of Jamie McCrimmon.

 3 The Integral by David Bartlett

 Now travelling with Zoe (Wendy Padbury) Jamie is rather adamant that all alien races are evil and out to destroy them, whereas Zoe has a more modern progressive attitude. Jamie is drawing on his (mostly negative) experiences of alien races from his time with The Doctor whereas Zoe comes from a more progressive enlightened era. But can their visit to Aspen Base change Jamie’s mind? The base is indeed “under siege” from its own inhabitants – as Aspen base is a secure hospital for people who have had their minds warped by a computer game – the base is overseen by “The Integral” who have the power to pacify and change the mind. As Hartnell once said “as we learn about each other so we learn about ourselves” and this is exactly what this story is – a journey of discovery and of expanding boundaries for Jamie, and a chance for him to witness life from another perspective.

 4 The Edge by Rob Nisbet

 Or where Jamie emerges from his chrysalis and gets to be the hero. Because this is what happens. The box set has been a loose collection of stories each dealing with Jamie progressing, and here he puts everything he has learned not only in this set but in all his travels with The Doctor in to practice to foil the plans of a drug runner and rescue The Doctor & Zoe.

A fitting end to the box set and proof positive that you really do not need learning to have intelligence or be from an “enlightened” age to have the power of mind.

 Can I just say that Frazer Hines is fantastic – he has completely captured the vocal style of Patrick Troughton, all the throat clearings, pauses and quick jabber that Troughton did so well, he is also effortless as Jamie giving him a dignity in defiance and a pure determination and loyalty. I was expecting a set of stories about the Second Doctor – what I got was a set of stories from the Second Doctor era but about his most faithful friend Jamie and a very fine set of stories they are too. So please indulge me whilst I cry “CRAEG AN TUIRE” and award this set 8/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

A new four-disc release featuring four tales from figures associated with the Second Doctor era, and a second actor.

10.1 The Mouthless Dead by John Pritchard

The TARDIS arrives in 1920s England, the Doctor, Jamie, Ben and Polly finding themselves in a wintry dusk beside a railway line. The station nearby appears deserted, but there are figures watching from the shadows, all of them waiting for a dead man’s train…

10.2 The Story of Extinction by Ian Atkins

Civilisations rise and fall – and few planets have seen this happen more often than Amyrndaa. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria join a survey team to find out why on the planet where everything is suited to creating life, nothing lives for long…

10.3 The Integral by David Bartlett

When tempers fray in the TARDIS, the Doctor struggles to help Jamie and Zoe resolve their differences. Arriving at Aspen Base proves a welcome distraction; but the isolated facility is under siege. Can Jamie’s belief in right and wrong withstand the perspective changing power of the Integral?

10.4 The Edge by Rob Nisbet

The Edge is the galaxy’s scientific hub of experimentation, theoretical breakthroughs and invention – just the sort of place to interest the Doctor and Zoe. However, a secret lies hidden in The Edge laboratories. Jamie instinctively knows that something is wrong, and it doesn’t take long for him to be proved right….

Written By: John Pritchard, Ian Atkins, David Bartlett, Rob Nisbet
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


Frazer Hines (Jamie), Anneke Wills (Polly), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Elliot Chapman (Ben), Robert Whitelock (Curtis)

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Jacqueline Rayner
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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Only in Doctor Who could a story like “Lost and Found” exist. To begin with it is utterly bonkers and completely off the wall, it is also a very sweet tale of a child searching for a lost toy Bear…

Narrated by Anneke Wills (Polly Wright) she tells the tale of when she Ben and the Second Doctor arrived in 1948 London, a post war wasteland trying to rebuild, buoyed by the British Spirit of Keep Calm & Carry On, Polly reminisces about the time her mother brought her on a day trip to Henrick’s department store and she lost her toy bear. The Doctor on the other hand has become rather obsessed with a tin of baked beans that he has found in the bomb site. In no other show could you have a race of sentient baked beans, no other show would be brave enough to try it, no other show would even consider it – but in the context of Lost and Found, and especially the Second Doctor, it works perfectly, because the Doctor believes in them, no season 17 style lampoon, no Moffat era post modernism, just a truth and realism to a bizarre situation.

In Henricks’ department store the two plot strands come together beautifully as The Doctor tries to aid the Baked Beans, Ben & Polly go looking for Polly’s long lost bear. Anneke Wills is truly heartbreaking as Polly – what could have become a story about the perils of crossing ones own time stream is told as a story about acceptance of loss and giving it context to a child -its sweet and it is rather beautiful.

Another great release in the Short Trips range and further proof that not all stories in the much lauded “infinitely variable format” have been told yet. Bear with me old beans while I give this 9/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.

The post-war London of 1948 is rebuilding, the people are recovering, and Ben and Polly have arrived with an old friend with a new face. But they’re not the only visitors. A very different kind of war is being fought, in a department store, and they are in the middle of it…

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Penelope Faith
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman


Anneke Wills (Narrator)


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Where do I start? Step One: Take a production featuring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, John Leeson, Ray Brooks & John Challis

Step Two: set said production in the bonkers Season 17

Step Three: sit back, relax and enjoy one of the best Fourth Doctor stories that Big Finish have produced

I could finish my review here, but maybe that would short change the production just a little, so I will ramble on a while.

 Remember the TV episode Time Heist? Well this story is almost completely unlike that one apart from the fact it contains a bank robbery, a robbery carried out by The Doctor under the supervision of his old friend (now in his third regeneration) Drax (Ray Brooks).

 Long time fans will remember Drax from the TV story The Armageddon Factor – hardly the crowning glory of the Williams era, but Drax was a fab character, played on TV by the late Barry Jackson – a mock cockney small time crook, a renegade (with a distinctly small “r”) Time Lord who was a school contemporary of the Doctor. It turns out that Drax installed a recall device in the Doctor’s TARDIS at some point during that story, and now he is in a bit of trouble with villain (or legitimate businessman) Charles Kirkland (Hugh Fraser) and has recalled the Doctor, Romana & K9 to help him out.

 Drax being a crook has come into the possession of a map that leads to the fabled city of Altrazar – a sort of temporal Atlantis, an oubliette in time where the rich and powerful hide away their secrets, he has also got himself involved with the previously mentioned Charles Kirkland and his servant Rosser (John Challis) and has been cajoled in to going to Altrazar to retrieve the secrets of Kirkland’s rival Grunthar (John Banks) and so with Romana under guard on Kirkland’s ship, Drax, Rosser & the Doctor head to Altrazar – and then things get very very complicated…..

 This story is a riot, a romp, a hoot – brilliantly put together and very very funny (but not necessarily in that order) it has twists on twists and crosses on double crosses but unlike a lot of TV Who it makes perfect logical sense. Lets look at the cast – when you are cast in a season 17 story you don’t underplay and all the actors are relishing their roles, from the suave Kirkland, to the gruff Rosser, to the chirpy cockney charmer Drax to the dour Inspector Fleur McCormick (Miranda Raison) each have their entrances and exits, and each in their time play many parts (to misquote Shakespeare) – put it this way, what could be a dull “timey-wimey” story about a bank robbery becomes a thing of joy, beauty and fun due to the wonderful synchronicity of the cast, the writer and the director – everything just works and the final payoff will have you taking your virtual hats off tho not only the writer but the ingenuity of the characters. And thats your lot, any more would be far too spoilery.

 There are some actors that just gel together – Tom, John Challis and Ray Brooks are a fab triple act and I genuinely hope that The Doctor & Romana cross paths with Drax and co again very soon, because you can never have too many apparently inept time lord renegades (small “r”) in a season 17 pastiche. A classic. 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was release in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to purchase from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

Altrazar. The temporal Atlantis, a place lost to time. Believed by many to be a myth, it has long been the perfect location for the rich and powerful to hide away their most dangerous secrets.

Until now.

Because the somewhat crooked, not exactly honest, wheeler-dealer cockney Time Lord known as Drax has found a map that leads to its location. And, at the behest of a manipulative businessman, he’s going to use it.

When the TARDIS is dragged out of the space-time vortex, its crew aren’t best pleased to see the Doctor’s old school friend, even less when he pressgangs them into joining a raid on the most secure safe-house in history. However with Romana and K9 held hostage, the Doctor has little choice but to agree. With Drax in tow, he heads for the planet.

Which is where the trouble starts.

Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9/Cabot), Ray Brooks (Drax), John Challis (Rosser), Hugh Fraser (Charles Kirkland/Shopkeeper), Jane Slavin (Shopkeeper 2), Miranda Raison (Inspector Fleur McCormick), John Banks (Grunthar/Street-Cleaner)


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An idea so simple, I cannot believe it hasn’t been done before. The Doctor can meet his other selves so why not The Master? And this meeting of The Master (Geoffrey Beevers) and The Master (Alex Macqueen) is what this story is all about. Its also incredibly complicated – the sort of complicated that makes Moffat’s “timey-wimey” nonsense seem trivial by comparison, to quote Blackadder “it twists and turns like a twisty turny thing” and to misquote Eric Morecambe, this is a story with all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. Ok, lets start at the beginning.

 The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is lured to the ship of the Rocket Men (remember them, slightly rubbish Space Pirates now even more down at heel and a bit of an intergalactic joke) by the Old Master (Geoffrey Beevers) . The Master then goes on to slaughter the whole crew apart from Jemima (Lauren Crace) who becomes the surrogate companion for this story and forces the Doctor to take him aboard the TARDIS – because the Master’s TARDIS has become inoperable due to travelling through an area of Space/Time that just doesn’t exist any more – in fact these null spaces are appearing all over the universe and are getting worse, they are even affecting the Doctor’s memories as he has no recall of the previous two stories in the trilogy (And You Will Obey Me & Vampire of the Mind) – the Master also informs the Doctor that he is locked in battle with an enemy worthy of his attention – a future version of himself, his enemy is none other than The Master (Alex Macqueen) . And this is where it starts to get REALLY complicated.

 This is a story that really demands your attention, it needs to be listened to and digested and mulled over. It is also told out of sequence – after the events of the first two episodes, we segue back to the beginning of the rivalry between Master Beevers & Master Macqueen which is in fact a very clever bit of continuity – long time Whovians will immediately get the reference to the Old Master going to Terserus and being recovered by a certain Time Lord Chancellor….

While both incarnations of the Master and their machinations take centre stage, The Doctor is somewhat sidelined by proceedings which is a shame, as the underlying plot of a renegade Time Lord known as “The Heretic” and the cult following his teachings is a very McCoyesque story right in the “evil since the dawn of time” mould and maybe if this were a stand alone release rather than a culmination of a trilogy with only one Master & Doctor number 7 I would feel more invested in the story rather than having to re-listen to several sections to confirm what I had just heard.

 So dense, complex and really quite confusing. After a stellar opening story in “And You Will Obey Me”, a second part, “Vampire of the Mind” that ticks all the right boxes to get you interested “The Two Masters” seemed to miss a few beats – it tries to do a lot, to tie up the threads from the previous stories whilst being a compelling story in its own right, and it is, it really is in parts. Macqueen & Beevers are both stellar as The Master and I was genuinely intrigued by the Terserus scenes and how they would pan out – but ultimately this feels like one enormous set up that doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. Sorry if I appear like a Heretic, but I award this 6/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

The future is dying. All over the universe, gaps are beginning to appear. From the space lanes terrorised by the rag-tag remnants of the once-mighty Rocket Men, to the empire of the Gorlans, stricken by a terrible civil war. Gaps in space/time, portents of the end of everything.

Only three beings might prevent it. The Doctor, a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey. The Master, another renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey. And another Master, yet another renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey.

One Doctor. Two Masters. What could possibly go wrong?

Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Jamie Anderson


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Geoffrey Beevers (The Old Master), Alex Macqueen (The New Master), Lauren Crace (Jemima), Russ Bain (Blore/Baron Jarvill), Esther Hall (Tazmeena/Bauza/Mum), James Garnon (Sebastian/Gorlan),Neil Edmond (Sarlon/Gorlan/Time Lord). Other parts portrayed by members of the cast.

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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Just when you think a series cannot get any bleaker, darker or nasty, something like this comes along. Yes dear readers we are back in the post apocalyptic world of Survivors for a fourth series – and what a series this is – from the beginnings of the Outbreak and the attempts to form a provisional Government to the “Belief Foundation” and its charismatic leader/Guru Theo (Ramon Tikaram)  this really does go to some incredibly dark places and asks fundamental questions of right and wrong, justice and the rule of law and the nature of how society will function when the old ways have crumbled to dust – can the old rules of Law & Order, Democracy & Freedom still function or does there need to be a fundamental rethink of how society functions?

 This is a very deep box set and very heavy going – but it needs to be, it needs to be brave and brutal and heartbreaking in order to tell the stories that it needs to tell and tell them it does in an uncompromising way – this is a box set that will haunt you long after the final credits have rolled.

 The set is broken down into four interconnected stories:

 4.1 The Old Ways by Ken Bentley

 With the first story we go back to the beginning of the outbreak and experience it through the eyes of Evelyn Piper (Zoe Tapper) a low ranking civil servant and aide to Lewis Bartholomew MP (Jonathan Oliver). Chaos has broken out, the population are ill and dying, the Prime Minister is dead – Bartholomew takes the opportunity to evacuate essential government personnel including the late Prime Minister’s wife Mildred Sanderson (Jane Maud) to a secure bunker called Tartarus where he hopes to set up a regional provisional Government until the plague crisis is over. A great plan. On paper. Sit in a bunker, wait for it all to blow over and then emerge to reassert law and order. It was never going to happen was it? A pressure cooker environment with a scarcity of food, paranoia about the plague was never going to end well. This story serves as an introduction to the character of Evelyn and we get to know the sort of person she is through the episode, her friendship with Mildred, her revulsion at the extremes of paranoia that Bartholomew reaches and her spirit of survival – because the bunker is just the first step in her journey.

 4.2 For the Good of the Cause by Louise Jameson

 Nothing gives me more pleasure than the words “by Louise Jameson” there is nothing she cannot excel at – magnificent actor and director and a writer who has a depth of character and feeling for the people she writes about, their hopes and their fears. Louise as well as writing this episode plays Jackie, and Jackie is the hook for getting us to the main body of the story, that of Theo and the Belief Foundation. Jackie has tracked down her friend Molly (Fiona Sheehan) to the Foundation. But what is this belief foundation? On the surface a model society, guided by Theo, he and his followers are trying to remake society in their image, tearing down the old to make way for the old – destroying what was wrong with the old but learning no lessons from the good. Louise teases out doubt after doubt about the true nature of the Foundation, notes passed to Molly warning her, the almost godlike cult of personality around Theo, the fanaticism of his followers. This is also a story about the relationship between Jackie & Molly. Jackie has maternal feelings towards Molly, maybe out of love, maybe out of guilt but Molly wants to be her own person and not be stifled – Louise as Jackie and as writer perfectly captures the despair & the rejection that unconditional love can sometimes come from a one sided relationship. This is a very personal episode in the Jackie/Molly arc that has been simmering since series two and it needed the skill of a writer and actress of Louise’ calibre to make it work and make it work so well.

 4.3 Collision by Christopher Hatherall

 Fantasy writing is always at its best for me when it has something to say and I read this episode as an allegory for the refugee crisis that has been happening over the last year or so. There is nothing so contradictory as Human Nature. At best we are inclusive, outward looking, progressive, welcoming and willing to embrace differences as an opportunity to share and enrich each other. There has been a worrying shift of opinion lately to that of isolationism, dislike of the unlike, mean spiritedness and downright xenophobia all carefully stage managed by those with a vested interest in these views being held. In Collision the survivors of the Tartarus bunker (or those who would leave) are brought to the foundation and are viewed as outsiders, viewed as valueless interlopers, freeloaders with nothing to contribute in a situation that has been perfectly stage managed. This episode also gives Jenny (Lucy Fleming) centre stage as she goes back to Tartarus to persuade the remaining residents to leave – she is accompanied by Foundation hard man Stan (Enzo Squillino Jnr) and newcomer Michael (Laurence Dobiesz) and what Jenny witnesses at Tartarus is an atrocity born of xenophobia. A cautionary tale told in a fantasy setting but a tale that is being told in the world around us.

 4.4 Forgive and Forget by Matt Fitton

 And so we come to the end. Long buried ghosts from the past are brought to the surface. As Greg (Ian McCulloch) and Theo leave the Foundation to try to salvage something from Tartarus, Jenny is left in charge and she has a terrible decision to make. But is it her decision? is it the communities decision? is it anyones decision?

This episode examines the consequences of living in a world where suddenly the old ways do not apply – things that were done in the early days of the plague finally have retribution. Can I please pause for a moment as I do not want to give any spoilers, as this is all I will say about the actual episode – however I would like to praise two incredible actors – Louise Jameson & Fiona Sheehan, they absolutely own this episode. Louise gives a “pin drop/hairs on arms stand on end” performance as Jackie as she admits her darkest secret to the community and Fiona Sheehan finally becoming who she needs to be and exercising her right over her past tormentor as a heart in mouth moment, I really did not know what she was going to do and because these four episodes make you doubt your own moral compass I don’t know how I feel about what she did do. It will make sense when you hear it.

 A dark and unforgiving run of episodes that gives some sort of closure to some of the characters. Greg’s plan for a united federation of communities is given a boost with the addition of the character of Evelyn and her organisational skills so no matter how bleak things have been maybe there is a glimmer of light at the end of a very very long nighttime for the spirit of humanity.

 Tightly written with immersive sound design and top notch acting this is one to appreciate rather than enjoy – its just too grim to be called enjoyable in the conventional sense but through the characters and the situations they find themselves in we can see a version of ourselves and the people we may have the potential to become, from noble to ignoble, from progressive to isolationist, from pioneer to follower all human life and all possibilities are here. A harrowing and difficult 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in June 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2016, and on general sale after this date.

It begins with just a few people falling ill. Another flu virus that spreads around the globe. And then the reports begin that people are dying…

When most of the world’s population is wiped out, a handful of survivors are left to pick up the pieces.

Cities become graveyards. Technology becomes largely obsolete. Mankind must start again…

4.1 The Old Ways by Ken Bentley

The Government has plans for a national state of emergency. But when Evelyn Piper and her colleagues shelter in the Tartarus bunker, they discover no amount of planning can prepare for the reality of the Death…

4.2 For the Good of the Cause by Louise Jameson

One old friend calls on Greg and Jenny to look after another. Together, they visit a utopian community where the inspirational Theo seems to have founded the perfect way of life…

4.3 Collision by Christopher Hatherall

When the old world collides with the new, casualties are unavoidable. While Greg and Theo work together for the future, Jenny tries to save lives – with the help of a troubled young man called Michael…

4.4 Forgive and Forget by Matt Fitton

As long-buried crimes surface, resentment and recrimination threaten to destroy the peace of the Foundation. Jenny, Jackie and Molly have their own trials to bear, and Greg confronts the truth of this new world head on. For some, nothing will ever be the same…

NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.

Written By: Ken Bentley, Louise Jameson, Christopher Hatherall, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Ian McCulloch (Greg), Lucy Fleming (Jenny), Louise Jameson (Jackie), Fiona Sheehan (Molly), Zoë Tapper (Evelyn Piper), Ramon Tikaram (Theo), Jane Maud(Mildred Sanderson/Sarah), Paul Panting (Colonel Stephen Adams), Jonathan Oliver (Lewis Bartholomew MP), Terry Molloy (John Redgrave), Sean Murray (Dr Stewart/Terry Levinson), Alex Lanipekun (Roy), Vinette Robinson (Davina),Laurence Dobiesz (Michael), Enzo Squillino Jnr (Stan). Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs


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