Older readers may remember when Torchwood first swaggered onto our television screens back in 2006. It gave us strong, sexy SciFi and allowed the utterly fabulous Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and his not-always-merry band to tackle bad-guy aliens with some very grown-up wit and grit. The great shame was that after the divisive Miracle Day, the show entered into a seemingly indefinite hiatus.
There was always a feeling that there were plenty more Torchwood tales to tell and now Big Finish have picked up the series, starting with the opening episode of a new series of audio adventures, The Conspiracy.
So, where do you start with a new set of adventures against a background of a TV show where the quality wasn’t always even, and whose last story involved a threat on a global scale? Well, if you’re writer David Llewellyn, you go right back to the start. Back when the Torchwood Institute was a small team of alien hunters based in Cardiff.
Episode 1 of The Conspiracy is a perfect re-start for the Torchwood series; a small, contained and tightly wound tale that zips along most pleasingly in the sure hands of director, Scott Handcock.
The story is based around Captain Jack’s investigation into wild claims made by George Wilson (John Sessions in great form), a former newsreader who had a meltdown live on air before re-emerging as a David Icke-style conspiracy guru. George preaches to his madly enthusiastic followers that an alien organisation from the planet Eribus called The Committee has been secretly directing the affairs of mankind for millennia. While Jack investigates George, YouTuber Sam (Dan Bottomley) is following Jack, and he seems to know an awful lot about Torchwood.
It so happens that in among the mad theories about JFK, terrorist events and World War II is a horrifying truth that Jack knows about. But what does George really know? Or Sam for that matter? Or George’s famously cynical, but loyal daughter Kate (Sarah Ovens)?
In The Conspiracy the characters are not always who they initially appear to be. As the truth emerges, lives are at stake and the peril is particularly well played. The denouement of the piece gives a jaw-dropping revelation about The Committee and Jack’s role in events, which only adds a heavier weight of responsibility to this already burdened character.
Despite a dark storyline, The Conspiracy is a superb welcome back for Jack and it’s as if Barrowman has been waiting in his Palm Springs mansion for the call to don his great coat and jump back in the action. And when the theme tune kicks in, a fantastic new shiny version for audio, you’ll all be jumping!
While this episode is nicely self-contained, it sets the scene for the rest of what promises to be a great new set of adventures. Thank you, Big Finish. I could kiss you!
BLOGTOR RATING 8/10
Thanks to Big Finish
Review by Andrea McGuire