Volume 2 of the new adventures for the Class gang features three new episodes, each one giving our characters some exciting new threats to face. And what fun it is! These two sets have given me my belief in Class back, I think it is safe to say that Class has found its home at Big Finish.
Class is back in session with three brand new adventures!
April likes being the girl who organises events at Coal Hill, but what happens when Reagan Harper arrives. People flock around her as she helps them with their problems, even Ram and Tanya are taken in. But April doesn’t trust Reagan. There is something strange about her. Almost alien…
Tanya and Matteusz find themselves victims of bullying. But someone is looking out for the victims, some kind of avenging angel. But those bullies are ending up in comas. Tanya and Matteusz find themselves thrust into a mystery leading back to the sixties. And they have to wonder who the real bullies are…
Charlie and Quill are called back into Coal School after hours when an alarm is triggered. They find a stranger who calls herself ‘Ace’ in the main hall but she isn’t alone. There is a lone Dalek stalking the corridors, hunting them down, determined to stop their defeat at the hands of the Doctor and Ace in 1963. But When Charlie vanishes in time, Quill has to make a rash allegiance. But will it be one she comes to regret…
EVERYBODY LOVES REAGAN
The second volume kicks off with Everybody Loves Reagan by Tim Foley. Like the opening episode of Volume One, this episode centres around April and Ram, early on in their doomed relationship. He throws Tanya into the mix as well and as a result, Everybody Loves Reagan comes away as an excellent look at the nature of friendship.
The antagonist, even if that line is blurred is Reagan, a girl who has transferred, who quickly becomes the school most beloved student, much to the chagrin of April. Taj Atwal is excellent as Reagan, helping to blur the lines between hero and villain for her character.
In keeping with these sets so far, Foley adds another interesting villain to the mythos. Gifted featured a creature who could give you anything you truly desired and Everybody Loves Reagan gives us a villain who can take your troubles away. And this is where those much-mentioned lines get blurred, is it really something evil to take away someone’s troubles and pains? Or are they what makes us, us?
These sets have done a terrific job at mixing and matching characters that didn’t normally get much to do with each other on the television and April, Ram and Tanya make an interesting trio. Sophie Hopkins and Fady Elsayed put in some particularly strong performances. Vivian Oparah does a good job too, but she isn’t the main focus of this story. She is excellent in the next story, however.
Everybody Loves Reagan is another interesting entry into the world of Class
NOW YOU KNOW…
The second story in this set is, Now You Know… by Tim Leng and it tackles the heavy subject of bullying.
Bullying is something that affected me heavily in my school years. I was bullied very badly and I was deeply moved by this story. In a good way mind!
Now You Know… kicks off almost as a conspiracy story, with letters being given out by teachers at Coal Hill about sick students and they are trying to cover up what is going on in their school. But Tanya and Matteusz quickly discover that it goes far beyond the latest cover-up. There is a mystery that dates back to the sixties. The rift has been opening all that time and things have come through. There is even a cool mention about Ian, Barbara and Susan that pleased this fan’s heart!
Leng pens a powerful story here. Many people say that their school years were the best of their lives. And maybe for some, they were. But for many other people, they were pure hell. In writing Peter Dillard, the school’s avenging angel, Leng seemed to delve into my experiences. My bullying began with name calling and silly things like being pushed around. But that quickly developed into punching and abuse from fellow students, be it, physical, psychological or verbal. It was pure hell for me.
And like Tanya and Mattuesz, I was bullied because I didn’t fit in. I didn’t have the latest tech, I was brighter and more intelligent than most of the students and I liked to learn. Of course, now the tables have turned. Not quite in the same way that Leng makes the bullies pay for what they have done, mine have done time in cells, been fined, picked up for possession of drugs and had sixteen screaming babies by the time they were twenty! What is it they say about karma?!
Leng’s story really moved me, it brought back memories that were both happy and painful for me but had the script been written any other way, the heavy topic it chooses to look at wouldn’t have worked and have been cheapened. And the performances from Vivian Oparah and Jordan Renzo are spot on! Now You Know… is the strongest story of this set, both volumes and one of the most moving pieces of fiction Big Finish have in their catalogue for people who have been through the same things. Well done everyone!
The third and final story of this set is perhaps the story that raised the most eyebrows from fans both hardcore and casual. Guy Adams pens In Remembrance that plays with the popular story Remembrance of the Daleks and works it for a modern audience. And it really works. It is an excellent take on the 1980s epic.
On television, Class was missing something that both The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood had, in the form of an audience identification figure. In Remembrance gives us two. We’ve got Ace and the Daleks! What a pairing.
Being set in the time of Remembrance, it is really nice to hear Nicholas Briggs doing the voices for the 1980s Daleks. They have perhaps the most distinctive voices in the timeline of the metal meanies and it is cool to hear them still rocking it on audio! There are plenty of references to that story too but not enough to distract from the story.
Perhaps the best thing about this story though is the obvious chemistry between Sophie Aldred and Katherine Kelly as Miss. Quill. The pair bounces off each other working as both each other’s opposites and exploring their similarities. Aldred and Kelly are excellent and hopefully, if these sets get some follow-ups, it won’t be the last we hear from this pairing.
Greg Austin also gets some cool moments to shine as Charlie, particularly when he is transported back to the Coal Hill Incident in 1963. His modern take on that world is particularly interesting and funny and there is a brilliant riff on the famous Ace and Baseball Bat moment for Charlie.
Volume 2 of Class is just as brilliant a come back as the first.
There is some really great writing here and some very strong performances to match from both the main cast and guests.
The main cast is on particularly fine form here, lapping up the strong scripts and turning them into some pure audio magic.
The strong scripts and performances are aided along the way under the superb direction of Scott Handcock, who has obviously really enjoyed the material he has been given. He seems to get the best out of his casts every time and long may he continue at Big Finish.
I must put out another shout-out to Tim Leng who penned the story that really resonated with me!
Everything in these two sets has coalesced to give us some very enjoyable entertainment. To anyone who doubted it before, Class does have a place in the Whoniverse. Ignore the bad points about the television series, much of which I put down to the BBC marketing at the time and give these a go…
Three new adventures for the students of Coal Hill Academy, based on the television series created by Patrick Ness.
2.1 Everybody Loves Reagan by Tim Foley
When Reagan Harper joins Coal Hill Academy, everybody instantly loves her – everybody except for April. Is there really more to Reagan than meets the eye? Or are there other forces at work in Coal Hill?
2.2 Now You Know… by Tim Leng
Following a series of freak attacks on staff and pupils, Tanya and Matteusz find themselves investigating a mystery that dates back to the 1960s. Together, they hope to solve it – even if that means turning on one another to do so…
2.3 In Remembrance by Guy Adams
When an alarm is triggered at Coal Hill Academy, Quill and Charlie encounter a mysterious intruder prowling around school premises. Worse, they also encounter a Dalek. Their only hope of survival lies with the stranger: a woman who calls herself ‘Ace’…
THIS CD BOX SET IS A LIMITED PRESSING. ORDER NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.
Written By: Tim Foley, Tim Leng, Guy Adams
Directed By: Scott Handcock
Katherine Kelly (Miss Quill), Greg Austin (Charlie Smith), Fady Elsayed (Ram Singh), Sophie Hopkins (April MacLean), Vivian Oparah (Tanya Adeola), Jordan Renzo (Matteusz Andrzejewski), Taj Atwal (Reagan Harper), Anson Boon (Peter Dillard), Shvorne Marks (Michelle), Wilf Scolding (Chris Richards) with Sophie Aldred (Ace) and Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer: Scott Handcock
Script Editor: Scott Handcock
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs