REVIEW | Torchwood: The Red List

Harvey Edwards tackles the latest Torchwood release, which sees the return of two old friends.


So far in the Torchwood range this year we’ve had stories about coffee, taxis, mould, and third wheels. We’ve also seen the return of Yvonne Hartman, Adam Smith, Zachary Cross Flane, Bilis Manger, and even had an appearance from a Sontaran. It’s no doubt then that Big Finish Torchwood producer James Goss has written another crazy mash-up for this month’s release. This time, for Goss’s eighth and final script of the year, he pairs Mr. Colchester (in his Monthly Range debut) up with Dorothy “Ace” McShane (in her Torchwood debut), for a story set in a South American hotel under quarantine – which gives this story its name: The Red List.

The story opens with a monologue from Mr. Colchester, played wonderfully as ever by Paul Clayton. While the dialogue here does feel slightly unnatural in places, it does well at delivering exposition without becoming unrealistic. It’s clear that Clayton is enjoying being back as Colchester, with it having been over two years since his last appearance. As soon as he starts interacting with Sophie Aldred‘s Ms. McShane (now in charge of A Charitable Earth), their chemistry is clear. The pair bounce off one another beautifully, and do really well to convince the listener that they’re trapped in a hotel. This story has only one other cast member – Manuel Pacific plays Xavier, hotel technician, and does a fine job for what is quite a small part.

The plot itself unfolds really well, with clues being dotted throughout the story, seemingly superficial, before – in a trope that has become one of Goss’s hallmarks – revealing at the end the way that all the strands tie together. The ending of the story provides a cliff-hanger – and one that listeners will no doubt wish is picked up on (but to say any more would be a spoiler). Steve Foxon‘s sound design works splendidly on this release, really capturing the mood and atmosphere of a South American tropical location. This is also echoed in Blair Mowat‘s music – a sort-of new rendition of the Torchwood theme is included with this release. As ever, Scott Handcock is a wonderful director, and he’s able to get very natural and believable performances out of our three cast members. It should also be noted that this is the first Torchwood release to feature Sean Longmore‘s cover art, yet another aspect of this production that has been crafted to a very high degree.

Overall, this is another great release in the Torchwood range (I feel like I’ve been saying that for every story this year!), though some of Goss’s tropes are getting somewhat predictable by this point – while he should be immensely proud of his writing work for Torchwood this year, it will be nice to hear from some new writers come next month’s release. Yet another high in Big Finish‘s most consistent range.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Torchwood: The Red List is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com

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