Harvey Edwards reviews the latest Torchwood release, which sees Murray Melvin return as the sinister Bilis Manger…
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a few returning faces in Big Finish‘s Torchwood Monthly Range – Yvonne Hartman, Adam Smith and Zachary Cross Flane have all returned on audio this year. This month’s release, Curios, sees another returning face – James Goss has brought back Murray Melvin’s Bilis Manger, who first appeared in Torchwood TV story, Captain Jack Harkness.
Curios is set in a Welsh coal mine towards the start of World War II – treasured artworks and valuable artefacts were sent to such mines during the War to keep them safe from bombings and attacks on cities. Despite the cover art and credit implying that this is a Bilis-centric story, the main character of this release is really Rosie Baker‘s Jill Anderson, a Torchwood employee who’s been sent to sort through the Torchwood Archive at one of said Welsh coal mines, where she encounters Bilis.
Baker plays the part brilliantly, and does really well to establish Jill’s character, and plays the more emotional sides to the character with a real believability. Her interactions with Melvin’s Bilis are played extremely well, and the characters’ relationship is developed very interestingly throughout the story, even if the ending is somewhat underwhelming.
Speaking of the pair’s relationship, this story is unique amongst Bilis’s other outings, as for the first time here, he gets to sort of make a friend. Jill and Bilis become closer as the story progresses, and the way in which that happens is very believable and natural, thanks to both the pair’s acting and Goss’s script. Another aspect of this story that keeps it in line with other recent Torchwood releases is Blair Mowat‘s score, which does sterling work to build up unease and a real sense of atmosphere, accompanied by Naomi Clarke and Peter Doggart‘s sound design.
All in all, this is Goss’s fifth hit in a row for this range – a range that shows no sign of dropping in quality anytime soon. Another fantastic look into one of Torchwood‘s side characters.
Torchwood: Curios is available on CD or as a download at http://www.bigfinish.com