The Hollow King‘ marks the end of the Big Finish Counter-Measures range. At least for the time being, this will be the last adventure to feature Group Captain Glimore, Rachael Jensen, Allison Williams and Sir Toby. Determined to go out with a bang and not a whimper, that is exactly what the script from Ian Potter delivers.

PLOT

Strange things have been occurring in the little village of Swammcombe. Strange lights in the sky. People seemingly loosing their minds. Spaceships have plagued the area. Allison Williams is determined to find out the truth. What does happen during the Elite Visualisation tests?

With ‘Counter-Measures’ looking into the case they stumble across Open Band, the devoted followers of Lord Cavall. There has been a rise in psychiatric rates amongst his followers. But what does all of this have to do with the King under the hill?

Written by IAN POTTER

The story from Ian Potter is a perfect and fitting addition to the ‘New Counter-Measures’ range. A mixture of genres, folk, horror and science fiction, are handled brilliantly and all of which get their own time to shine. In fact, the story moves along at such a fast pace, you hardly notice the short run-time at all. Before you know it, it’s all over.

For the most part, Potter seems happy to let the story play out like ‘The Wicker Man’ or ‘The Village’. There is a sense that something isn’t quite right in this close-knit community. Potter building up the unease. But only in the final fifteen minutes the true horror of what is going on is revealed. It has to be one of the most disturbing things to ever come from Big Finish!

Where Potter really shines is in writing the character of Lord Cavall, played brilliantly by Tim Bentinck. Care is taken to never let us truly know whether he is on the side of the angels or not. This only works to make the final twist all the more shocking. Given that Cavall does some despicable things, the listener is never quite certain where they stand with him.

TEAM COUNTER-MEASURES

The main cast are all given something nice to do. Gilmore goes undercover and of course his ‘Britishness’ betrays him. Rachael Jenson gets to do some science and work out the main plot. Sir Toby goes investigating and Allison infiltrates the strange ‘Open Band’. While all these plot points initially seem to be separate entities they all weave together by the time the final act rolls around so listeners get to hear the gang together, possibly for the last time. We will assume that Big Finish knew that the range would be ending here, so it is with a sense of melancholy that we must listen to the final scenes.

It was great to hear the cast here on really great form. Given how these are characters that they played many years ago for one story in 1988, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they have had trouble finding their characters again. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since the debut series back in 2012, the main cast have really knocked it out of the park, making ‘Counter-Measures’ one of the strongest ranges to ever come from Big Finish.

WILLIAMS, SALEM, GLEDHILL and ROSS

Simon WilliamsPamela Salem, Karen Gledhill and Hugh Ross are excellent once again. Listening to the extra features at the end of the release demonstrates how much they have enjoy their time at Big Finish. Not only have they featured in their own series, but they have turned up the Doctor Who Main Range. They will also appear in the upcoming ‘Legacy of Time’, a special release to celebrate 20 years of Big Finish.

Simon Williams is hilarious as Group Captain Gilmore, fitting the character well and with a great rapport with the rest of the cast. The era when these stories are set saw social attitudes beginning to change and it is fantastic to hear a character who is embracing these changes whilst never letting them change who he is at his core. In fact, Gilmore feels a lot like John Steed from ‘The Avengers’ and that just makes his character all the more enjoyable. Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill do an equally fantastic job. The pair have a great chemistry and you get a sense of how much these two care for each other. With some excellent material in this story both actors rise to the challenge superbly.

Hugh Ross wasn’t in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ with his character of Sir Toby first unveiled in the debut boxset back in 2012. In the original few sets, you were never sure if he was a good guy or someone with an ulterior motive. Gradually, as the series moved on, you had a greater sense of his character. ‘The Hollow King’ sees Sir Toby getting involved in a way that he never would have done way back in ‘Series 1’ and it is great to hear how far he has come. Plus Ross rises to the material that Potter has given him brilliantly too.

OVERALL

A fantastic main and guest cast working with a tremendous script, ‘The Hollow King’ is electric. Each actor runs with the material they have been given. ‘The Hollow King’ also boasts a tremendous music suite from Nick Briggs which complements the story really well, never intruding on the action but helping to reinforce it. Well done Mr. Briggs.

The direction from Ken Bentley too is excellent and he is one of the pantheon of directors at Big Finish who always know how to get the best from his assembled cast whilst keeping the story moving along at breakneck speed!

The Hollow King’ appears to be the last mission for the Counter-Measures team, for now at least. Happily it ensures that this little gang go out with a bang and not a whimper. Each character gets a time to shine and it all comes together in the final moments.

For now ‘Counter-Measures’ has come to a close, but this is no doubt far from their last mission…

Visit the Big Finish website to purchase your copy of The New Counter-Measures: The Hollow King.

Counter Measures: The Hollow King (c) Big Finish

Synopsis

This title was released in January 2019. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until February 28th 2019, and on general sale after this date.

The Hollow King by Ian Potter.

They say lights have been seen in the skies over Swammcombe. They say this is the place to spot flying saucers. Allison Williams is not so convinced. But maybe Allison Williams is wrong. When she witnesses a UFO launch from the top of a hill is it signs of alien activity… or something more sinister?

Counter-Measures are looking into Open Band – the disciples of the so-called Swami of Swammcombe, Lord Cavall. They’ve been been monitoring Cavall since noticing a curious rise in psychiatric cases among his followers…

How true are Cavall’s teachings? What happens during the elite ‘Visualisation’ sessions? And what does this all have to do with the King under the hill?

Written By: Ian Potter.
Directed By: Ken Bentley.

Cast

Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore), Pamela Salem (Rachel Jensen), Karen Gledhill (Allison Williams), Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella), George Watkins (Bob), Jessica Regan (Patricia / Daisy), Kate Russell-Smith (Cook / Nurse), Tim Bentinck (Lord Cavall). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: David Richardson.
Script Editor: John Dorney.
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.

Counter Measures: The Hollow King is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced £10.99 on CD and £8.99 to download. The Big Finish App, available on Apple and Android devices, also makes listening even easier. It is also a free app to download, just search in your app store.

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