The Churchill Years – Volume 1
Written by Phil Mulryne, Alan Barnes, Justin Richards, Ken Bentley
Starring Ian McNeice
Review by Emrys Matthews
The Churchill Years spans different points in the life of the infamous British leader and follows the structure of Winston reflecting on his past as he writes his memoirs; but rather than hearing about the major events history remembers, we learn about the not-so-public events and his encounters with a certain Time Lord.
The box set is made up of four stories:
The Oncoming Storm
by Phil Mulryne
Late 1939. Britain faces the might of Germany. Winston Churchill soon finds himself facing a more immediate threat than the looming Nazi menace. An alien weapon with the most mysterious properties is discovered in the Thames’ sands, and soon oddly spoken soldiers are creeping round London ruthlessly trying to acquire it.
This first story sets the tone of the collection aptly, the aliens of the this adventure are original and walk the perfect line between farfetched and brilliant in a way that can only be achieved in Doctor Who. The adventure eloquently mirrors events for the ninth Doctor and Churchill each being at opposing equidistant points with the Time War having ended for one and WWII just about to begin for the other.
by Alan Barnes
In the dark days of 1941, Britain is in the midst of war. Churchill must stand strong against the might of the enemy – but he is plagued by a darkness in his own psyche. Something he calls ‘the Black Dog’.
This parody of The Hound of the Baskervilles inspired by real events is fantastic. The tenth Doctor features in this adventure and Emily Atack turns in a first rate performance as Churchill’s “assistant” Hetty Warner.
by Justin Richards
Finally given the chance to travel in the TARDIS, Winston Churchill cannot resist the opportunity of meeting Julius Caesar. But the trip does not go quite as planned. With the TARDIS gone, and Churchill stranded in ancient Britain with a young Kazran Sardick, it seems things can hardly get any worse. Who is the Bronze God, feared and worshipped by the Ancient Britons? A god that he recognises as anything but divine when he meets it.
This story is the highlight of the set, the interactions between Churchill and Caesar are perfect. It’s a slightly odd choice to set this in a time when the Eleventh Doctor was travelling with the youthful version of the Scrooge-like Kazran Sardick seen in the the Doctor Who seasonal special, ‘A Christmas Carol.’ That aside the box set is worth a listen for this story alone.
The Chartwell Metamorphosis
by Ken Bentley
Comfortably retired to his home at Chartwell, Churchill plans to live out his days in peace, in the company of his butterflies. But it isn’t simply Lepidoptera breeding in the gardens, as a far more sinister species is about to emerge from its cocoon.
This story feels a little more relaxed than the last which in certain ways makes it feel anti-climactic, however the narrative acts to nicely mirror Churchill and his escapades in his sunset years.
Initially, it’s a struggle to acclimate to the narrator-heavy style. Ian McNeice plays Churchill, narrates the story posthumously and also voices the various incarnations of the Doctor. The assembled cast turn in strong performances and the full cast nature acts to suitably balance the narrative style.
It’s great to hear the Matt Smith era title music and once more see the worlds of Big Finish and the BBC working closely to bring listeners an even greater variety of audio dramas. This set may be a little more niche than it’s fellows, but it is no less impressive or solidly produced and Ian McNeice turns in another fantastic performance as Winston Churchill.
BLOGTOR WHO RATING 8/10
Thanks to Big Finish
Review by Emrys Matthews