Christmas is the perfect time of year for a ghost story. Christmas Eve in particular seems like the kind of night where the veil is thinner and anything is possible. It’s a night full of magic, and not all of it benevolent. In Torchwood: The Crown Queen Victoria has a creepy and cursed story to tell before this year draws to a close.

This isn’t the first of the creepy hauntings Queen Victoria has had to deal with on Big Finish, but it might be my favourite so far. The Crown is first and foremost focused on the act of storytelling. It is primarily a narration of events that led to where we find the characters now. There are breaks and interruptions, the best of them by the ferryman himself. They remind listeners of the potential danger, urgency, and purpose of this long story before we are lulled back into it by the calm and authoritative voice of the queen. It invites us to gather in a tradition of sitting together on a cold, dark night and listening to a cursed tale.

Torchwood: The Crown

Rowena Cooper is given the task of carrying the drama as the narrator of Queen Victoria’s story. It’s a very skilled performance and a version of her character that differs from previous appearances. Victoria is still sharp and straight-forward, clearly putting herself above everyone else she encounters. However she also seems much more vulnerable and certainly more open, for reasons that become clear as she tells her tale. Derek Riddell is also great as Dr Gideon Parr, to whom the story is being told, as is Jonathan Blaydon who plays the mysterious Maddox.

By Jonathan Barnes

Part of the intrigue of the story is figuring out how Dr Parr and Maddox fit into this narrative. Why are they there and what are they really doing? There’s something just off about both men from the beginning, but whether their attitudes or secrets are for good or ill is hard to tell at the start. I do however wish we had more time with the character of Henrietta Parr to understand her better before the conclusion of the story. Though it’s not a huge loss for the sake of keeping things moving. Fitting together the various pieces of Victoria’s story and the different characters will keep listeners on their toes, guessing part, but likely not all, of the final picture.

Overall

Sometimes at Christmas you just want to sit down and listen to a woman tell you a story of curses and monsters. So let Queen Victoria tell you about the moss-encrusted, ever-following Ferryman and a cursed crown. The narrative is enhanced with wonderful sound design from Joe Meiners and music by Blair Mowat, combined with direction from Lisa Bowerman that heightens the creepy atmosphere. Jonathan Barnes has written an intriguingly cursed Christmas tale for you to listen to on a cold and snowy night as this year draws to a close.

Torchwood: The Crown (c) Big Finish

Synopsis

This title was released in December 2020. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until February 28th 2021, and on general sale after this date.

The Ferryman stands in shadow and waits.

The Ferryman giggles, hungers and hates.

The Ferryman comes to carry away

All who behold the crown and disobey.

Christmas Eve. Dr Gideon Parr is summoned to an asylum to check on a patient. A patient who claims to be haunted by a terrible curse. A patient who claims to be Queen Victoria.

Cast

  • Rowena Cooper (Queen Victoria)
  • Jonathan Blaydon (Maddox)
  • Gwyneth Keyworth (Mrs Henrietta Parr)
  • Derek Riddell (Dr Gideon Parr)

Credits

  • Senior Producer: David Richardson
  • Additional themes by Ben Foster
  • Cover Artist: Lee Binding
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Executive Producer: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
  • Music: Blair Mowat
  • Producer: James Goss
  • Script Editor: David Llewellyn
  • Sound Design: Joe Meiners
  • Written by Jonathan Barnes
  • Theme Music by Murray Gold

Torchwood: The Crown is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £10.99 on CD and £8.99 to download. The Big Finish App, available for free on Apple and Android devices, makes listening even easier.

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