Class is back in session.
After having been cancelled in 2016, after one series, Class has been resurrected by Big Finish for two, three-part volumes. Class was a troubled television show, not least because the fans didn’t seem to want to give it the chance it really deserved.
Overall, I enjoyed it on television, the cast had some great chemistry and there were some thoughtful and enjoyable episodes. But even the sudden-shock appearance from the Weeping Angels at the end of the final episode couldn’t save it from cancellation. These two-volumes from Big Finish aren’t the continuation of the show, but set at various points in the first series, helped along by the large time-gaps between the televised episodes. But did Big Finish work their magic? Will more people give Class the time and love it deserved?
April and Ram are confronted with getting everything they’ve ever wanted. But there is just one problem, it would come at a terrible cost as they will soon discover at Carterhaugh House.
Tanya and Ram take a work-experience at Servelin Laboratories. But soon an alien escapes its confinement and everyone is in danger and it is up to them to stop it.
Charlie and Matteusz are faced with some disturbing truths when they are infected with an alien mind parasite who makes them talk constantly. But will things get better or worse when Miss. Quill gets involved?
The first episode of Volume One instantly feels a lot different from its television persona. With a catchy new theme tune from the talented Blair Mowet, Gifted explodes through your headphones or speakers with a real fresh feeling.
The script from Roy Gill is superb. Taking the same kind of idea from Nightvisiting which saw a grief alien hitting London, Gifted uses another alien who will give you whatever you desire the most. The creature is really interesting and it would have been cool to see something like this on television.
Gifted focuses its attention on April and Ram, played once more by Sophie Hopkins and Fady Elsayed. The pair is just brilliant together and even though Hopkins and Elsayed haven’t played their characters for some time, it is like they’ve never been away.
The pair has some fantastic chemistry which helps an already excellent script rattle along. Gill also, writes perfectly for the main characters, like he has been doing it all his life. It’s brilliant.
For all the action, and there is quite a bit, there is also a strong emotional core that runs through it and even the most cold-hearted listener would be hard pressed not to feel anything about the ending!
Gifted is an excellent way to open the set and feels like a perfect story for April and Ram.
The second story of the opening set is brought to us by Jenny T. Colgan, who pens a story that is perfectly suited for Tanya.
On television, Tanya often suffered because there were too many characters all scrambling for something to do and with her character being the youngest, more-often-than-not, she was told to stay behind.
Nothing of the sort happens here and she is thrown right into the midst of the action. Following a work-experience placement at Sevelin Laboratories, her and Ram are thrown into the world of aliens once more.
This story really allows Tanya to shine, not only because it has some science moments, something she is good at, but because she is the one who sorts the whole thing out. In typical Class fashion, there is an alien loose around the underground labs who is murdering all the staff. While we learn its capabilities in the opening moments, it is nice to hear Tanya’s cool head working things out, while Ram seems to freak out once again!
Vivian Oparah is on fine form here, probably because she finally has some decent material to sink her teeth into. Overall, Life Experience is another thoroughly enjoyable outing.
TELL ME YOU LOVE ME
The third and final story for Volume One is Tell Me You Love Me by Scott Handcock who delivers what I felt was easily the best story out of this already strong set.
Set on a Friday after school, Charlie and Matteusz are in the locker room collecting Charlie’s belongings. Matteusz has other plans however but before things can get going, his romantic plans are thwarted by an alien who won’t let them stop talking.
It is a really interesting concept for an alien and it forces Charlie and Matteusz to say what is on their mind and what they really feel about their relationship. Both of them say things that are rectified as the story goes along.
Katherine Kelly is also back as Miss. Quill and she is just excellent. She slips back into that role perfectly and Handcock gets her lines down wonderfully. She is gloriously sarcastic. The trio of Kelly, Greg Austin and Jordan Renzo work brilliantly perfectly, with Austin and Renzo reminding us why Charlie and Matteusz were such a great couple on screen.
For me though, the best part of this story was its final scenes which seem to take delight in showing us how ruthless Miss. Quill really is. Working out how the alien operates, she rings a random stranger and has the alien transport to its new victim. It is a conclusion but not a nice one, something that Miss. Quill even seems slightly ashamed by.
Tell Me You Love Me wraps up this brilliant trilogy nicely!
Class: Volume One features a trio of strong stories, ones that are practically superior to the television series, which was also good. The cast is excellent, even though they don’t all interact in a story, that works in the volume’s strength. There few times where all the characters had one big adventure on the television and these stories work better because there aren’t so many characters to try and a cram into one tale.
What I also felt worked a lot better was that each story featured a stand-alone monster, not one like The Shadow Kin who were weaved into almost every story of that solo-series. Each villain gives the duo of characters a time to show what they are really made off and it is excellent. Not focusing one monster through all these stories really allowed our main cast to develop.
The regulars are just superb. I was worried that some of them might not have been able to get used to the audio format. But each one surprised me at how easily they had slipped back into their original roles.
The guest actors are brilliant also, Rhys Isaac-Jones, Deirdre Mullins, Lu Corfield, Scott Haran, Joe Shire, Jasmine M. Stewart, Liz Sutherland-Lim and Gavin Swift all perform their roles excellently. There isn’t a weak link amongst them and they all work brilliantly with the main cast.
Roy Gill, Jenny T. Colgan and Scott Handcock all deliver some stellar scripts, all of which fit perfectly into the gaps in the first series without interfering with the story that was telling. They all work perfectly for the main characters and the trio should be very proud! And Scott Handcock delivers some superb direction with Blair Mowet on fine form as the sound designer.
And without a doubt, Big Finish have worked their magic once more, Class has definitely found its home in the audio format!
For those who took to Twitter in a rage back in 2016 about there being a new spinoff in a year when there was no new Doctor Who, then I would urge you to pick this set up immediately. For those of you who, like me, ignored the hate and gave the series a go, then I would urge you to do the same. This is only the first volume and already I’m hooked.
I really hope this isn’t the only two sets for Class Big Finish do, this is excellent and definitely one of the best set of stories I’ve heard from them this year! Everyone should take a bow!
Three new adventures for the students of Coal Hill Academy, based on the television series created by Patrick Ness.
1.1 Gifted by Roy Gill
When a talent scout arrives in Shoreditch, Ram sees an opportunity to further his goals, whilst April strikes up a friendship with new boy, Thomas Laneford. Their choices draw all three to Carterhaugh House – but who is the mysterious Mab that waits for them there…?
1.2 Life Experience by Jenny T Colgan
After signing up for work experience at Sevelin Laboratories, Tanya and Ram find themselves thrust into the world of medical research. But dark secrets lie at the heart of Sevelin Industries – and not everyone can make it out alive…
1.3 Tell Me You Love Me by Scott Handcock
The school day has ended. Charlie and Matteusz find themselves alone – though not quite as alone as they first believed. Three little words could mean the difference between life and death… and Quill is the only person they can turn to.
THIS CD BOX SET IS A LIMITED PRESSING. ORDER NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.
Written By: Roy Gill, Jenny T Colgan, Scott Handcock
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), Rhys Isaac-Jones (Thomas Laneford), Deirdre Mullins (Mab), Lu Corfield (Marta Vanderburgh), Scott Haran (Jason Campbell), Joe Shire (Aubrey Khan), Jasmine M Stewart (The Mayor), Liz Sutherland-Lim (Alicia Yan), Gavin Swift (Boris). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer: Scott Handcock
Script Editor: Scott Handcock, James Goss
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs