With a record revival happening in the UK right now, Big Finish have unleashed a limited-edition vinyl release of The Chimes of Midnight. So what better time to look back at what’s often regarded as Big Finish’s finest early work?
The Chimes of Midnight is the sixth audio outing for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, released way back in 2002. Robert Shearman takes the Doctor and his companion Charley (India Fisher) through a creepy Edwardian house on Christmas Eve. Every hour, on the hour, a different member of the house staff is murdered, several times over. Can the Doctor unravel the mystery and catch the culprit before Christmas Day chimes?
Plenty of Twists and Turns
If you’re familiar with the story already then you’ll already know the twists and turns that make it so great. This was my first time hearing The Chimes of Midnight after years of people raving about it. I didn’t think the story would live up to the hype but I’m pleased to say I was very wrong!
The release is split into six parts, with an overall run-time just a smidge over two hours. This means that each episode is slightly shorter than what you might expect if you’re used to Big Finish’s more recent multi-part output. Unfortunately, this also means that the breaks come in weird places. I initially thought this would hurt the pacing, but it’s clear Big Finish divided the story with care. The story unfolds gradually without the need for a dun-dun-dun! moment every twenty minutes. Each part feels like the next chapter of one long story and feels very natural as a result.
Small but Excellent Cast
It’s strange to think how early into McGann’s incumbent era this is, having only returned the previous year. He slips into the part effortlessly and delivers such a confident performance you’d believe he’d been doing it for decades. Louise Rolfe as Edith stands out, becoming central to the story and carrying most of the emotional weight.
The only flaw is a slight pacing sag around the middle, but even that’s used to enhance the experience. Just as the story starts to get repetitive, Shearman pulls the rug and you’re thrown headlong into an exhilarating finale. The contrast is so sudden that it has to have been deliberate and makes the story even more gripping.
Spectacular All Round
The Chimes of Midnight earns its reputation with excellent ideas in the script, playfully-handled pacing and spectacular work all round. If you’re a fan of vinyl and Doctor Who then this is a must-have addition to your collection. The release includes an exclusive documentary with Shearman exploring Big Finish’s early days and inspirations behind The Chimes of Midnight.
Blogtor Rating – 10/10
The Chimes of Midnight is available now in a limited-edition four-disc vinyl release at the Big Finish website. Only 500 copies are being made so you’ll have to be quick! Though it comes with a complimentary download, those with more frugal tastes can get a digital copy for £2.99.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring…
But something must be stirring. Something hidden in the shadows. Something which kills the servants of an old Edwardian mansion in the most brutal and macabre manner possible. Exactly on the chiming of the hour, every hour, as the grandfather clock ticks on towards midnight.
Trapped and afraid, the Doctor and Charley are forced to play detective to murders with no motive, where even the victims don’t stay dead. Time is running out.
And time itself might well be the killer…
Written By: Robert Shearman
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards