Launching their second season of audio adventures, hot off the heels of the first, the audio resurrection of Torchwood continues with a story set in the early days of the organisation.
After establishing the organisation in the Doctor Who episode ‘Tooth and Claw’, as a reaction to her close encounter with an other-worldly Werewolf and an order of Kung-Fu monks, this Torchwood tale imagines Queen Victoria taking a very active interest in its activities.
Arriving for her annual inspection of the London branch, based at the Natural History Museum, Victoria finds an incident on-going and cannot be dissuaded from becoming involved. Fortunately, London is temporary home to the dashing Captain Jack Harkness although his charm offensive initially fails to impress her Majesty.
While she was played by Pauline Collins on the television, it’s Rowena Cooper who brings the British monarch to life here. She’s no less intimidating though; Victoria is headstrong, quick witted and a crack shot, although she does not take direction well and has a nose for trouble.
Cooper, of course, is no stranger to Big Finish having voiced the wonderful character of Dame Emily Shaw, companion Liz’s mother. In truth, though he is on fine form, it is John Barrowman who is relegated to the companion’s role here.
As well as providing a rip-roaring adventure both above and below the streets of Victoria’s London, on the hunt for an energy hungry creature, AK Benedict’s script is a terrific character piece which hones in on the feelings of a Queen at the end of her long reign, a pragmatist who is concerned about her legacy and bears the weight of her responsibilities.
It is not all serious though, how could it be with Jack involved, and his attempts to impress Victoria are entertaining, even if she remains sceptical at first. There is also an impressive Victoria Line gag which had us laughing out loud. Based on the strength of this debut, we hope it is start of a long relationship between AK Benedict and Big Finish.
Given the story’s placement, it was no surprise to find no direct references to “The Committee”, the shadowy conspiracy Jack and friends have encountered over the first series. However, that is not to say that there is no mystery and that the tale might not have a connection.
Based on what we have heard, these early days of Torchwood seem like fertile ground, with Jack infusing the era with some modern technology, while being mindful of too many anachronisms.
Credit must be given to Blair Mowat for a charming period arrangement of the Torchwood theme, and also to Lee Binding for his cover which grants John Barrowman a handsome set of mutton chops!
Released in March 2016 by Big Finish.
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