Torchwood has always been a mixed bag for me with Big Finish. There was no denying the excitement surrounding Big Finish’s announcement they would begin to continue the Torchwood story in 2015 but the narration style of storytelling wasn’t something that appealed to me and it didn’t suit the style of the television series. Eventually the narration style was taken away and was replaced by full cast audio drama’s but still, something felt missing for me, having tried a number of different titles, even the first volume of Aliens Among Us, didn’t really grip me. When I heard that the original cast was getting together to produce a new story I decided to give it a go, almost as though it was going to be my swansong to the Torchwood range. But Believe might have convinced me to stick around and see what the Torchwood range has to offer in the future.
The three-disc set, all written by Guy Adams and directed by Scott Handcock takes place towards the tail end 0f the second series of the show and the story revolves around the main cast, Captain Jack, Ianto, Toshiko, Owen and Gwen. The cast is stripped down a little with smaller characters like Rhys and PC Andy not being featured at all, even though they are as much a part of the Torchwood family as the main cast.
The Church of the Outsiders believes that mankind is going to evolve and reach out to the stars. But Owen Harper believes that Torchwood should do whatever they can to stop them…
The cast of Torchwood has gone from project to project, John Barrowman has gone onto DC Comic Book series, Arrow as Malcolm Meryln and fought the likes of Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Flash, Supergirl and the Legends of Tomorrow, he was last seen saving his daughter Thea Queen from a landmine. Burn Gorman enjoyed a stint on the US show Forever and is currently working on a number of movie roles and Eve Myles is doing a lot of television dramas over here in the UK. As you can imagine, it was a logistical nightmare to get everyone together and as such, there are only a few scenes where the whole gang appears together. But the opening scene is brilliant as each character gets their time to shine in a mission briefing and we are treated to some bickering as Owen tells them all about the Church of the Outsiders and a small gang who recently hit a UNIT warehouse. Because of the cast not being together, the characters are split up, Tosh and Owen go after the cult’s accountant, Lanto infiltrates the Outsiders and Gwen protects the Cult leader’s daughter while Jack goes off somewhere in a huff and pouts.
It is delightful that each character gets a decent chunk of the action but is definitely nice that Owen and Tosh get the best storyline here. We’ve all heard Gwen running off to be an action hero and Lanto being incredibly nice to people, Owen and Tosh are the two who have had the least character development on audio and it was nice to see that happen here, though I am still waiting to hear an Esther Drummond audio from Miracle Day! Owen and Tosh had a sort of love story on the series and Believe explore that as it tests their different outlooks on life and sex. It can be an uncomfortable listen at times but that makes this series all the better and the performances from Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori are brilliant.
Believe is far from the first big Torchwood event Outbreak and Aliens Among Us have had an epic quality about them. Believe is much smaller in comparison and sometimes this works and sometimes it works against the whole piece. There are moments that are very interesting and the story wraps up nicely. But there are moments that could lose someone’s interest, like the scenes of Lanto at the Church of the Outsiders which feel a little too stretched out.
It goes without saying that the performances are top-notch, not that we should expect anything else from this gang. John Barrowman, Gareth David Lloyd, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori and Eve Myles are sublime, each one devouring the rich and powerful script. The guest cast is also excellent with Arthur Darvill (Frank Layton) and Lois Meleri Jones (Andromeda) standing out as two powerful performers. Darvill has just finished a long, three-season stint on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow so it is nice to hear him in a Big Finish play again.
The script from Guy Adams is just as brilliant and is very interesting. It wrong-foots you at the beginning but by the end of the piece has some interesting things to say about belief. And of course, this being Torchwood, when I say ‘interesting’, I mean ‘depressing’. But Adams captures the real world that Torchwood inhabits perfectly. The Church of the Outsiders is depressing with many of the characters ending the play with their beliefs shattered or being embarrassed by what they believe in, as many people do in the real world. The large cast of characters begin by wanting certain things and when they get them, they wish they hadn’t, just like real life too.
Believe might not an action epic, but the great script, superb acting and strong direction give us another enjoyable character piece for the Torchwood team…
The Church of the Outsiders believe that mankind is about to evolve, to reach out into the stars. Owen Harper believes that Torchwood has to do whatever it takes to stop them.
Written By: Guy Adams
Directed By: Scott Handcock
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Burn Gorman (Owen Harper), Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato), Mac McDonald (Steve Ross), Lois Meleri Jones (Andromeda), Mali Harries (Val Ross), Arthur Darvill (Frank Layton), Rhian Blundell (Erin), Chris Rankin (Val’s Assistant), Lloyd Meredith (Davey Russell), Jennifer Sims (Grey), Aled ap Steffan (Grey). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.
Producer James Goss
Script Editor Steve Tribe
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs