Wednesday, 30 November 2016


The third Doctor era is a bit of a quandary for me, I both equally like and dislike the Third Doctor in almost equal measure. Let me explain. I always saw the Doctor as a rebellious anti-establishment figure, I had grown up with the Tom Baker era so was used to the anarchic Williams era Tom as my template for what the Doctor should be like and the cozy establishment man of the Third Doctor just didn’t do it for me, fact my young self thought of him in the same way as one Sue Perryman and I had my least favourite Doctor in the “Pompous Tory”.
The folly of youth. Revisiting the Third Doctor era with new mature eyes I saw him as every bit as rebellious as his fourth incarnation – more so if anything – he was subversive, trying to bring down the establishment from the inside, talking the language that the establishment understood whilst all along retaining his anti globalisation, anti bureaucracy pro- environmental hippy credentials. He was a man of action, a man of gadgets but also a deeply spiritual man and his quest for knowledge for its own sake was his downfall.
The Pertwee era was also where the Doctor Who Formula seemed to hit its stride – big set pieces, alien invasions, The Master, UNIT, The Brig and also the wonderful Jo Grant.
 42 years on and time has been cruel, we have lost Jon Pertwee but his Doctor lives on through Big Finish. Last year they made the very brave choice of recasting Tim Treloar as the Third Doctor – a thankless task as if he “did a Pertwee” he would inflame fan wrath for impersonating, but if he played it as himself he would not capture the essence of the era. Tim Treloar did neither and he did both -whilst not actually impersonating Pertwee he captured his essence, the warmth of his personality and his performance and brought his own spin on what the third Doctor was – and now (after a rather long intro) he is back with Volume 2
 As I said earlier there are certain formula to the Pertwee era, the stories are a certain “type” of story – alien invasion, aliens were always here, mad scientist, Doctor sent on a mission, colonists against oppressors and this box set follows the type of story that would have been seen on screen in late 1973 – we get a “colonists against oppressors” story & a “aliens were always here” story – with sufficient modern twists to make them anything but nostalgic retreads of a bygone age.
 The box set is split in to two four part stories:
 2.1 The Transcendence of Ephros by Guy Adams
 The Third Doctor was a very moral Doctor, and very vocal in his morality and on the Planet Ephros he gets to exercise full moral outrage. It starts off very traditionally – The Doctor (Tim Treloar) is taking Jo Grant (Katy Manning) to visit the planet Ephros, but like  Metebelis 3 its not as he remembers it – it is now a cold dark place beset with earthquakes and soon they lose the TARDIS when the ground cracks open. What follows for the first three episodes is a pretty standard “colonists vs corporates” plot – the colonists led by Mother Finsey (Richenda Carey) are a religious group who are going to willingly sacrifice themselves when the planet explodes the next day. The Galactic Corporation are going to harvest the energy of the explosion and their leader Karswell (Bernard Holley) is looking forward to his bonus. But what if everything is not how it seems, what if all we are seeing is based on a lie and who is the “wise man” that Mother Finsey had as a mentor? Gripping stuff (if a little by the numbers) but undoubtedly a Pertwee era story, shot in 4:3 and with jungle sets built in a tiny BBC Studio – like many stories of its time it asks ethical questions and lets the listener form their own conclusions – I didn’t feel preached to as could sometimes happen in the TV stories of the era – a strong opener with a fourth episode that you wont see coming…..
 2.2 The Hidden Realm by David Llewellyn
 A very good friend of mine made a very good point about Doctor Who a few years ago, and on the whole I agree – he said “Doctor Who is best when it is set in a small village” I suppose its that sense of the familiar being subverted – of picture postcard England being dangerous (the old “Yeti on the Loo” factor) and this second story is the “Aliens were here all along” story. This one has bags of atmosphere – it has that “washed out location film” feeling if you know what I mean even though it is an audio – but I get ahead of myself. In the town of Bramfield people are going missing, in fact they have been going missing for a good long time and when Jo Grant’s cousin Stephanie (Clare Buckfield) reports her husband Peter (Robert Whitelock) missing The Doctor & Jo head over to investigate. The odd thing is that the Police have been investigating and found out that £100,000 has been wired to his account from a criminal escaping justice in Argentina……
With scary magpies (don’t say the rhyme whatever you do…) and a town where no one can be trusted Jo and her new friend DS Joseph (Alex Lanipekun) must work together as even the Doctor is vulnerable to attack. A great little homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers given a Doctor Who and and English folk-lore twist.
 A cosy little nostalgia trip that will tick all the right boxes for aficionados of the Pertwee era, it feels like it has fallen of the screen in 1973 & landed on a CD in 2016 and will give you a warm glow inside – Doctor Who as it was done in a bygone era and very well done at that 8/10.


I do like a musical interlude – and an occasion as momentous as the end of the story of Dorian Gray deserves one. But with typical extravagance I have blessed this collection with two musical interludes -  oh you lucky lucky people :-)
 So Dorian Gray, literary hedonist, creation of Oscar Wilde. Everyone knows he had a portrait in the attic (cue QI Klaxons) which kept him young, pure and beautiful – that ensured that his life of excess didn’t touch him that he Dorian Gray was immortal whilst the portrait became more and more diseased and monstrous as it took the effects of a life of unfettered hedonism. Dorian was immortal. But can immortality end is it possible that Dorian has reached the end of the line or will he get his happy ever after? time for song I think
 As 80’s pop/rock sensation Wendy James says in the song “Every Beginning is the start of an end” and this box set really is the end but the end begins at the beginning and ends, well it ends with an Ever After and in-between we get to explore some of the more permanent and moving relationships in Dorian’s long long life – the whole set has a feeling of melancholy and of impending doom and of relationships ending like leaves falling from an autumn tree long into winter when they had no right to actually be there and blowing away to oblivion and of the tree weeping at the loss of a friend that it has held on to for far too long…
 There is a lyrical beauty that Dorian Gray inspires, listening to the four episodes feels intrusive on the intimate innermost thoughts of the protagonists and their relationships with Dorian we see Dorian as Oscar Wilde, James Anderson & Dorothy Parker saw hime because these are THEIR confessions about Dorian rather than Dorian’s confessions and this set takes the listener on an hazy journey from 19th century Paris to the dawning of McCarthyism to 2016.
 Hazy because I think that the story tellers may be unreliable narrators – there always was an otherworldly slightly off centre feeling listening to Confessions, but in this set the feeling is amplified and no more than in the opening story “One Must Not Look At Mirrors” by Guy Adams which has the first meeting of Oscar Wilde (Steffan Rhodri) with Dorian Gray and Wilde becoming obsessed with deranged painter Richard Dadd (Ben Crystal) who may or may not be the inspiration for a series of gruesome murders -  a surreal whodunnit (or maybe not) was anything actually done at all, is is Wilde misremembering or having fever dreams on his deathbed – its up to the listener to decide.
 Following on is Angel of War by Roy Gill, narrated in a confessional style by James Anderson (Daniel Brocklebank) as he tells of his experience of meeting the impossible charming rogue Dorian Gary in the trenches of World War 1 and how he fell in love with Dorian and how on a mission to no mans land to retrieve a sacred bell Dorian came back from the dead and how history can be rewritten so that the tragic becomes the heroic.
 From world war 1 we go to post world war 2 Hollywood USA – the spectre of McCarthyism hangs over The Valley of Nightmares by David Llewelyn as Dorothy Parker (Sarah Douglas) recounts a tale of a party she and Dorian attended where a child star down on his luck accuses producer Walter Van Kirk (Mac McDonald) of being involved in ritual murder – and much like the David Lynch classic film Blue Velvet, scratch the surface of “respectable” America and its rotten to the core.
 And then the end the “Ever After” by Scott Handcock – a poignant and moving on the one hand but a tirade of rage on the other hand. A tale of the end. Because at the end of the day don’t we all want to be surrounded by our families and friends in familiar happy surroundings? Don’t we want to reflect on who we are and what we have done and take stock of the path that has led us to where we are today – but if you have lived as long and as morally dubious life as Dorian what will that bring? Dorian’s soul is laid bare at the end of everything. No more no less.
 A difficult listen, awkward velvet drenched, absinthe stained smelling of too many late nights and too many chances taken and too many friends and lovers betrayed. If this were music it would be a combination of The Velvet Underground, The Smiths and Cradle of Filth – but who needs easy listening, who wants cosy when being made to feel uncomfortable has never been so enjoyable – if David Lynch, David Cronenberg, The Marquis de Sade & Oscar Wilde had collectively managed to conceive a child it would be Scott Handcock – because Mr Handcock has created something of pain & beauty in equal parts and at the end of everything has produced perhaps his greatest work – a surreal nightmarish trip into world of perception where characters are all trapped in their personal hell of their own making and try to make their short time on this world count for something, anything. They all know the truth but all in their own ways fight against the inevitable, Oscar against his impending death, James against being irrelevant and Dorothy against getting old – all mirrors held up to Dorian Gray.
 I cant finish this review without mentioning the man himself – Alexander Vlahos who as Dorian makes arrogance an art form. The brash you braggart of Wilde’s original novel is given layer after layer of character moulded by his experiences to become world weary – the wine has no taste the women and men have no appeal, the drugs don’t work – been there, done that got the gold medal all he has now is existence.
 In a year of outstanding releases from Big Finish this is one of the very best and a strong contender for my release of the year. Parting is such sweet sorrow and I promised two musical interludes so will leave the last words to The Smiths.


After 53 years is there really anything else that you can do with The Daleks? Earth Invasion – Check, Genesis story – Check, Searching for Human Factor – Check, going inside a Dalek – Check. Its pretty much all been done and as a story this months main range Order of the Daleks doesn’t really tread any new ground – Daleks have invaded a Medieval colony and are using properties of said colony to control and trying to expand their influence. What is stunning and new about this story is the design of the Daleks (pitch to Big Finish – Daleks commandeer a fashion house and try to take over the world through haute couture “Design of the Daleks”……. ok maybe not :-) )
But the design in this story is extraordinary – just take a good look at the cover art – these are Stained Glass Daleks made from bits and pieces that the order of monks who have had the misfortune to attempt to help them after their crash have supplied. The monks have also supplied “nutrient” – their own blood to nourish the Dalek mutants and animal stomachs for them to hibernate in. So far so gruesome – and it is, in a very season 22 sort of way – it is almost a Revelation of the Daleks style black comedy. But lets rewind a bit as I have been a bit carried away by Stained Glass Daleks…
 The setting is the planet Strellin where Census taker Pendle (John Savident of Fred Elliott fame) and his assistant Asta (Olivia Hallinan) are taking numbers on this Grade Three planet when they encounter Old Sixie & Mrs Clarke (Miranda Raison) who really have no business being there as no off worlders are allowed – teaming up and visiting the local monastery after the Doctor receives a psychic summons and then its all Daleks invading, mind controlled monks and a plot to use the Monks special black flower to enable the Daleks to transfer their consciousness into anyone in the Universe.
 Its a pretty standard story, heavy on the fruity acting, heavy on the melodrama and a healthy amount of being captured and escaping and a lot of creepy “body horror” with extra gore – all in all a bread & butter Doctor Who story and there really is nothing wrong with that.
 The acting treads a very fine line between farce and horror with John Savident & Colin Baker making an excellent pairing switching effortlessly between scenery chewing and deathly serious – some of the best scenes are when Old SIxie confronts the Abbot (Nick Briggs) and tries to, well you will just have to listen to find out….
The star of the show for me though is Miranda Raison as Mrs Clarke – fast becoming one of my favourite companions in any medium, she is getting a real character journey and the layers of prissy middle class woman are slowly being peeled away as we get to know her more.
 Its one of those stories, almost the type of story that we take for granted, traditional and very much a “Dalek” story and follows the conventions of that type. A solid 7/10.


Ooh this is good, really good. Remember when the lost stories from the 1960’s started coming out on CD (anyone remember CD :-) ) with a bit of narration from a cast member for the action bits? Well that is what “The Ravelli Conspiracy” is like. Its so authentic that it could quite easily be a lost story from late Season 2 or early season 3 – think The Romans. The Myth Makers and The Gunfighters and you will not be too far from the feel. Its an historical, it has no “sci-fi” traits part from the main cast and the TARDIS and it features the Doctor, Steven & Vicki having a whale of a time in early 16th century Italy.
 Oh yes indeed – The Early Adventures have really hit the ground running this year, we have had space opera, shadow play and now a celebrity historical and this celebrity figure is none other than Nicolo Machiavelli. Now there is an interesting historical figure the very name Machiavelli conjures up ideas of a mad schemer, a tyrannical despot, master puppeteer pulling the strings of destiny of someone having plans. But when we meet him Machiavelli (Mark Frost) is a broken man, a man under house arrest at his own farm, a man who lives only at the good will of Pope Leo X (Robert Hands) and his brother the Captain General of Florence Guiliano de Medici (Jamie Ballard) and this is where our heroes enter the story.
 Lets step back a bit and look at the Hartnell era – this story really is rather typical but do you know, its familiarity makes it even more charming. The Doctor wants to take Vicki & Steven to the Olympics in the far future – they talk about “futuristic” sports in a very 1960’s sort of way and then due to an error arrive in Florence 1514. Then they get separated – Vicki & Steven arrested by Medici guards whilst the Doctor stays in the farmhouse to converse with Machiavelli – the TARDIS is also taken to the Pope by the Medici guards so they are all separated from their means of escape and get into all sorts of scrapes before being reunited with the TARDIS. I was a little bit critical of Order of the Daleks earlier this week for being too familiar – I wouldn’t have The Ravelli Conspiracy any other way, it works just as you expect it to work – leads separated, different plot strands to get to the same place, Vicki being wooed by Pope Leo has echoes of Nero lusting after Barbara, but with a bit of a modern twist, the Doctor making his own way to Florence and ingratiating himself with the Pope by pretending to be a cloth merchant, Steven captured and caught up in a plot to assassinate the Pope and all the Medici – and at the centre of it is the mysterious Ravelli family, a family who revolted against the Medici and are now hell bent on taking down the Pope and his administration, a family in hiding but with a lot of influence. But who is playing who? who is the real leader of the conspiracy? All this and much more is revealed throughout the four joyous episodes.
 Its such a shame that the pure historical has been dropped and is very unfashionable – there is so much scope to play about with keeping history on track with no “timey-wimey” histrionics, The Ravelli Conspiracy proves that you can be both traditional and fresh at the same time, and do you know, knowing how the story would play out did not spoil it one little bit, it was like dusting off a DVD of an old favourite like The Myth Makers…. (only joking)
 All the actors are on top form, Peter Purves gives an incredible Hartnell whilst Maureen O’Brien slips comfortable between the young Vicki & her own voice as narrator, the guest cast give a heightened performance that is reminiscent of 1960’s TV – cod Shakespearean with one foot in camp, wonderful stuff. I offer my confession that I have utterly loved this story & award it an historical 10/10.


Remember when Torchwood was event TV, remember when pretty much everyone you knew was into it, remember that summer of 2009 when Children of Earth was the only thing that seemed to be talked about in your workplace? Great times eh? One of those times when the “not we” finally appreciated what we had been going on about for all of those years – it didn’t last long, but for one glorious week the geeks had inherited the Earth.
 This months special release “Torchwood: Outbreak” does much the same – and I lay my claim on the phrase “event audio” because that is what this release is – its an event, its a blockbuster disaster/conspiracy movie condensed into audio format, it takes the characters we know and love Jack (John Barrowman), Gwen (Eve Myles), Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) & Rhys (Kai Owen) and it puts them through hell – literally hell on earth, completely through the wringer both physically and emotionally like they never have been before. The Outbreak is real, the danger is real the threat of armageddon has never been more close – and it all happens in Cardiff.
 I often hark back to Jon Pertwee’s “Yeti on the Loo in Tooting Bec” anecdote, and this has never been more true than with Outbreak – it takes place in a real, recognisable Cardiff, when Gwen tells Rhys on her phone that she is on Bute Street, I can picture it, when families speak of going to the betting shop or out for milk it adds a punch of reality – this is what real people do – but what is this armageddon that has befallen Cardiff? what is the Outbreak of the story title? It all begins with one man, one lone escapee from a medical trial loose on the streets of Cardiff. One man, patient zero to pretty much bring the City to its knees.
 The story is very “event”, very true to life with rolling news, interviews and fast cutting between the main players – remember how the epic Doctor Who finales were under Russel T Davies and you get the idea – Torchwood is RTD’s baby and the style of story telling is very much an homage to the great man. And so one man brings disaster to Cardiff, and he asks for Torchwood so PC Andy (Tom Price) involves Captain Jack Harkness – but Jack has seen this virus before and soon we are contending with a 60 year old conspiracy involving the mysterious Norton Folgate (Samuel Barnett) as well as Jack fighting the infection. As always the humanity and grounding of the story is brought to us via the relationship between Gwen & Rhys. Rhys is on his way back to Cardiff after being abroad driving & is caught outside the “ring of steel” that the army have erected to quarantine Cardiff, but he isn’t going to let a little thing like a quarantine get between him and being reunited with his wife. Whilst all the epic end of the world viral outbreak things are going on the story hits all the emotional points by making this all about the different lead characters relationships.
 The villain of the piece is one Frances Godalming (Marilyn Le Conte) an icy cold corporate mouthpiece for the medical research company responsible for the “good thinking” virus as we find out it is called, and sees the outbreak as an opportunity to further her career.
 Had this box set been a TV series it would no doubt have been “event TV”, but do you know, it is so good I will settle for event audio & pity the poor people who don’t get to listen to it. A non stop, knock down, drag out epic of a story – I can only hope we get more event audio very soon. From the disturbing beginning to Rhys’ determination to get in to Cardiff, to Gwen rallying the citizens like a welsh Boudicca, to the quieter moments with Jack & Ianto, this is full of classic punch the air moments and I will never look at parts of Cardiff in the same way again. An infectious 10/10.


“You should kill us all on sight” – that was the instruction from The Silence spliced in to the Moon Landing footage by the 11th Doctor way way back in 1969. And it looks like humanity have been obliging and slowly over the last four and a bit decades The Silence have been bumped off by humanity, and humanity don’t even remember doing it.
For anyone coming in to the story late, this is the third new series UNIT box set by Big Finish, and it is a little bit different – more cerebral with less emphasis on action (even though it is action packed) and as per the title it features New Who villains – The SIlence.
 Now then The Silence have a singular ability – you can see them when you are looking at them, but once you turn away you forget you have ever seen them, making it very difficult to combat them – an enemy which you cannot even remember seeing or interacting with, a villain fighting back agains a subliminal message that has been slowly killing them off, you can almost sympathise with them. Almost as their plan for revenge is convoluted and despicable.
 The Britain in this UNIT is frighteningly familiar – a populist right wing buffoon enthuses the masses with rhetoric on immigration and making Britain “great” again is riding high in the polls despite being inept, an embattled Prime Minister tries to hold her Government together against growing calls for a no confidence vote. And in the background are The Silence, plotting, scheming, manipulating and planning their revenge…..
 As I said earlier this box set is a departure from the style of the previous two UNIT stories, the contemporary political setting gives this a sense of reality – we can all guess who right wing buffoon and pretender to the office of Prime Minister Kenneth LeBlanc (Nicholas Day) is based on – and the whole sense of the country sleepwalking into disaster is played out in an almost documentary style – this feels more like the Season 7 UNIT of the Pertwee era, all cloak and dagger and a little sinister rather than the UNIT of the new series and gives the new team more depth and the characters more time to breathe. The slower pace really benefits the character of Sam Bishop (Warren Brown) who is given a much more prevalent role in the proceedings.
 As is the tradition, the set is one story split in to four parts:
  1. House of Silents
 With Colonel Shindi (Ramon Tikaram) back on active duty and given the job of surveillance of one Miss Faversham (Joanna Wake) a blind, elderley philanthropist who is happy to give the disposessed and the desperate a home – the thing is people visit her home but don’t come out, Colonel Shindi has seen this, but then he cant remember how many have gone in or come out. A tense and at times frustrating (not in a plotting but in a character way) opening – I was literally shouting at the cast to look out for Silents – but they didn’t hear me, and then they didn’t remember. Ingrid Oliver is excellent as Osgood – the scene where she explores the attic in Miss Faversham’s house and encounters her lodgers is as tense as it gets. A very good start to a very different UNIT box set.
 2. Square One
 How do you combat an enemy that you cannot remember? How do you cope when a member of your team suddenly and without warning defects to help a right wing demagogue? How do you put together the holes in the narrative to make sense of what is going on? This is the dilemma facing Kate (Jemma Redgrave), Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) and Sam (Warren Brown) when Josh Carter’s (James Joyce) politics take a turn to the right and all the threads of the investigation that nobody remembers are reinvestigated.
Square One is an apt title as for the characters this is the first time that they have encountered and investigated the Silence and their plan – and what a very clever plan it is, in fact to quote Blackadder you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel – their plan is. No, I have forgotten…….
 3. Silent Majority
 The Prime Minister has resigned, Kenneth LeBlanc is riding high in the polls and is on the verge of winning an unprecedented majority in Parliament. But why is this buffoon so popular, surely if a malevolent alien force was manipulating the electorate they would remember about it? The Silence plan is incredibly complex and has been a very very long game and their aim is to try to manipulate events to create a phenomenon seen by as many people as the Moon Landings. In the age of social media and viral videos the Silence have upped their game and are using every trick in their devious playbook to achieve their aims – we were told by The Doctor to kill them on sight, how far will they go to counteract that message? A tense political thriller all leading up to the count at the constituency that LeBlanc is standing in, all the pieces are in place and a soon forgotten victory is about to be achieved.
 4. In Memory Alone
 This is an odd episode, very odd – it somehow doesn’t feel part of the main story, and to begin with it feels disjointed and an afterthought. As if Big Finish would let that happen. This is a coda to the Silence plan – their final revenge for the quiet war that the Doctor has inflicted on them through humanity. They plan to leave humanity powerless and divided and unable to ever harm them again.
 A brave move for Big Finish to go away from the tried and tested UNIT formula and go for a completely different take on things. The oddly disjointed feel of the set and paranoid tone works because of the enemy and the methods that they use – when you cant even trust your own memories how can you trust yourself, your friends & your colleagues? Disjointed I think is an apt word for this set – part alien revenge, part political thriller, part cautionary tale about populism and part sequel and clearing up of a mess left by The Doctor UNIT – Silenced dares to be different, to stand out from convention and to try something a little different – and while its sometimes frustrating it is always rewarding and the build ups pay off, the victory really does feel earned by the characters as they have all in their different ways suffered during the series of events. Silence will fall and UNIT – Silenced is awarded a none too quiet 8/10.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


This is the story of Carol Baker. Nothing more, nothing less, its the story of one woman. Yes there are other characters and no she's not in all of the story but her shadow is long over the proceedings - Carol Baker is the catalyst, the reason that everything that happens in these four dark and harrowing tales that make up Survivors Series 5. Survivors has long been established as a groundbreaking drama - a terrifying vision of a world with no laws, where the law of the jungle has taken over and where civilisation has fallen. A stark, bleak world with no hope, a world of fear and suspicion, but, and it is a big but - there is a glimmer of hope - people like Greg Preston (Ian McCulloch) & Jenny (Lucy Fleming) are in the early stages of building a federation - a trading network between the new communities that have sprung up since 99% of the worlds population died from the plague. A new society is springing up from the ruins of our civilisation - surely nothing can stop the inevitable rise of the true spirit of humanity?

This is where we find ourselves in series 5 - a fledgling society, hanging by a thread - a brave new world there for the taking and then we visit the community of Maythorne and everything starts to come apart because Maythorne is where we meet Carol Baker. Theres that name again so lets find out a little more about her. Before the “death” Carol was an army medic and now she is the default Doctor at the Maythorne community - Carol is a believable and “real” character and is beautifully written and those words are brought to life by Neve McIntosh - giving Carol traits that are abhorrent and frightening and also a vulnerability and a pathetic desperation - this woman has nowhere to turn, no one she can turn to and has a fate which is pretty much sealed from the first part of this story - but the journey she takes and the journey of those who's lives she touches are drawn in blood and sweat and suffering, in fear and anger and even in love. This is a box set that will stay with the listener for a very very long time.

5.1 The Second Coming by Andrew Smith

Maythorne is where it all begins and where we meet Carol Baker for the first time, she and Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour) are out foraging and are captured by bandits led by Healy (Sean Biggerstaff) This is the beginning of a chain of events that will bring devastation to the new society being forged - because people were not the only Survivors, the plague has survived as well, a new strain of the plague, more virulent than last time and with no antibiotics to combat it - Maythorne is just the beginning. As opening episodes go this sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the set. Its slow paced and deliberate and builds up the character of Carol as the layers of secrecy are peeled away and her awful secret that will bring so much suffering are revealed and then, when she seems almost pitiable when the listener wants to reach out and help her, her true nature, or to be more accurate the true nature of her desperation are revealed. Shocking and moving with awful repercussions Survivors has been to some dark places, but this is one of the darkest.

5.2 New Blood by Christopher Hatherall

Greg & Jenny visit the neighbouring community to their home at Whitecross - the community of Springton is having a good natured border dispute with Whitecross over hunting rights and Greg is going to speak to the Council. The people of Springton led by Silas Broome (Richard Hope) have embraced paganism - Stone circles, animal sacrifice - like something from the Wicker Man. The old gods protect their community - but when a certain Carol Baker arrives death follows her and the old gods seems to have abandoned Springton. What follows is a grim and desperate race against time Greg and Jenny are in genuine danger, Jenny’s fear is real, Greg is out of his depth. Barbarism masquerading as religion from people who have lost and are losing again to the new “death” that is spreading like wildfire. Bleak, genuinely downbeat but a drama unlike any other.

5.3 Angel of Death by Simon Clark

Abby Grant is making her way from community to community to warn people of the new “death” - meanwhile Greg and Jenny hear of a community that has an electricity generator so go to set up a dialogue and meets Pearl (Donna Berlin) who is trying to get the generator working. Meanwhile Jenny hears a story of an “Angel of Death” that has been moving from community to community infecting people with the new plague - and she has visited this community, and it is not long before the plague is raging. Survivors has never been so desperate - every life lost is another nail in the coffin of the human race - the fledgling society is crumbling before our eyes and this is down to one woman, a woman we know as Carol Baker, a woman known and spoken of in fear as the Angel of Death….

5.4 Come the Horsemen by Andrew Smith

And so it ends. It has to, society has to survive. It deserves to. What doesn't kill makes us stronger but at what price? As Abby Grant and Evelyn Piper (Zoe Tapper) continue the search for Abby’s son Peter, Greg and Jenny are faced with an almost impossible choice as our story leads us full circle back to Maythorne. Retribution is coming for the Angel of Death, retribution in the form of horsemen with murderous intent. A difficult listen, a very difficult listen and completely morally ambiguous, do we hate Carol, do we pity her, do we agree with the horsemen? It is up to the listener - but whatever you think the ending will stay with you a long time after the closing credits.

All the best box sets work on many levels and this is one of the best - its a morality tale, its a broken mirror to the world we live in, its a character study, its a battle of humanity against the virus but more than anything this is the story of Carol Baker. A tale of despair, a tale of hope and a tale of the spirit of humanity both good and bad - and its another classic 10/10.

Written by Ed Watkinson


This title was released in November 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until December 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. But viruses are survivors too...
5.1 The Second Coming by Andrew Smith
Millions died when the plague swept the globe. Such a thing couldn’t possibly happen again - or could it?
When Abby Grant and Evelyn Piper both arrive at Carol Baker’s Maythorne community, a chain of events is set in motion that could unleash a new wave of death across the country.
5.2 New Blood by Christopher Hatherall
Danger surrounds Whitecross when a simple border dispute exposes deadly tensions between those who live side by side.
Greg Preston and Jenny Richards soon find themselves fighting for their lives, as people in the grip of a terrible new fear turn to the old ways to protect themselves...
5.3 Angel of Death by Simon Clark
Emerging from a quarantined Whitecross, Greg and Jenny discover that the danger they glimpsed at Springton is far from over.
Meanwhile, as isolated communities find themselves exposed to a disease they know nothing about, Abby joins a desperate race to save lives.
5.4 Come the Horsemen by Andrew Smith
In times of crisis, rumour and fear run rife across the decimated landscape of Britain. Evelyn and Abby experience the lethal effects of this panic first hand.
At such times the worst of humanity is exposed. Can Greg and Jenny find the best in those around them? Or is there no way to avoid the coming of the horsemen?
NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.
Written By: Andrew Smith, Christopher Hatherall and Simon Clark
Directed By: Ken Bentley


Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant), Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston), Lucy Fleming(Jenny), Fiona Sheehan (Hannah), Zoe Tapper (Evelyn Piper), Neve McIntosh(Carol Baker), Sean Biggerstaff (Healy), Barnaby Edwards (John Woodley/Old Scavenger/Stuart), Andy Secombe (Ben Turner), Fintan McKeown (Patrick Regan), Richard Hope (Silas Broome), Alex Clatworthy (Summer Broome/Elsie), Donna Berlin (Pearl Ironsmith), Ekow Quartey (Dylan), Elizabeth Payne (Beatrice/Margo), Roger May (Lenny Bryson)
Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs