‘Torchwood One: Before the Fall’ review: We learn more about what makes Ianto tick

Big Finish’s latest three-disc Torchwood release is not set in Cardiff, nor does it contain any Captain Jack.

Instead it gives us a few days in the life of the Canary Wharf headquarters before it was so rudely destroyed by Daleks and Cybermen.

Titled Torchwood One: Before the Fall, it stars Tracy-Ann Oberman as Yvonne Hartman and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones. Of course it doesn’t start there, instead it starts with the story of Rachel Allan (Sophie Winkleman) and her first day in a new job…

Joseph Lidster charts Rachel’s first day at work in ‘New Girl’, setting up most of the characters and lulling the listener into a false sense of security as we meet some new people and get a sense of how Torchwood is just like any other job, well apart from the alien technology, conspiracies and risk of sudden death. The point of view of a new joiner works well and the twist as the story ends (no spoilers!) gives an imperative to the rest of the box set just in time for a change in focus.

Jenny T Colgan takes the listener ‘Through the Ruins’ as the Torchwood team try to survive an Away Day with team bonding and the ever present risk of deadly weapons. Yvonne has other things to worry about as does Ianto, but a new character grabs our attention – Ianto’s housemate Soren (Robert Daws) who along with Rachel Allan is one of the best of the characters introduced in this set. He gives us a new perspective for both Ianto and Yvonne and helps set things up nicely for the finale.

Matt Fitton’s ‘Uprising’ has to dovetail an interstellar war with some internal Torchwood politics, and several people will have to decide whose side they are on. This is both the most wryly amusing and dark of the stories and brings matters to a typical Torchwood close. At the end some of our worst suspicions of Yvonne’s character have been confirmed, but we also learn more about what makes Ianto tick.

As a set the three stories segue well and balance both regular and new characters well.

Big Finish continues to show us just how many stories there are to tell in the Torchwood setting, and delivers on surprises every time. Barnaby Edwards’ direction has to take some credit here and adds another director to the pool working on this range.

5star

Released in January 2017 by Big Finish.

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