The Time War saga has grown exponentially since it was slowly worked into Big Finish’s repertoire. From the first little seedlings back in 2013 and the late great Sir John Hurt reviving the War Doctor. Now with the involvement of McGann, Jacobi and the Gallifrey team it has expanded into an all encompassing spectacle. It showcases the best of acting and writing that the audio powerhouse offers.

Following the first volume of the Time War escapades on the planet of the Time Lords, Lalla Ward and Sean Carlsen return as regular characters Romana and Narvin. Joining them are a huge cast of newcomers including, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Samuel Clemens and Samuel Gosrani. Perhaps the biggest name is the Demon Headmaster himself, Terrence Hardiman, as the newly resurrected Rassilon. Under the direction of Time War regular Scott Handcock once again, all the ingredients are there for another hit. But will the absence of the exterminators bring down this set?

Samuel Clemens (Mantus), Rebecca Root (Cantico), Seán Carlsen (Narvin), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Livia) and Terrence Hardiman (Rassilon) (c) Big Finish

Havoc by David Llewellyn.

Taking on the task of following that monumental cliffhanger, David Llewellyn picks up a world broken by war, and decides to send it through the wringer a bit more. Rassilon, Lord President Eternal, Founder of the Society of the Time Lords, is reborn. He’s ready to take on the task of orchestrating Gallifrey’s victory in the war. But as the people celebrate his return, a mysterious stranger arrives in the Capitol, and commits a terrible deed. As Romana, Narvin and the CIA investigate, the High Council, War Council, and the Lord President’s new team start banging on their door for answers. They’ll soon discover something even more terrible…

Picking up nearly exactly where Volume One left off, Llewellyn gives us a strong political Gallifrey story. Full of machinations between factions, back-handedness, and double dealing. Plus there’s a huge mystery all wrapped up inside. Throughout the story the listener is left wondering who is on who’s side? Is that side good or bad? How much deeper can the mystery go? All the cast giving their all, from the regulars to the new additions of Paul Marc Davis and Lucy Robinson. It’s a perfect reintroduction to Gallifrey after a year away.

Partisans by Una McCormack.

With introductions over, Una McCormack takes us into the real meat of the boxset. Ysalus, a planet stuck in the midsts of civil war. They have enough on their plate for the moment without anyone else getting interested in them. But sadly, that’s exactly what Gallifrey is. Narvin, for the CIA, and Cantico, a War Council agent, have made their way to the planet to save it from being used by the Daleks. The problem is, both agents have their own way of dealing with the issue…

McCormack’s tale gives us Gallifrey behind enemy lines, for want of a better term. Showcasing a mission impossible style plot, without all the glamour, on a world blighted by endless war away from the titular battle. It showcases the length our characters can be driven to, in both the good and bad sense. The location also provides an impressive backdrop for a superb cast to give tremendous performances. Alongside Jessica Hayles, Abra Thompson and Stephen Critchlow giving their all, particular praise must be given for Sean Carlsen. He has evolved Narvin gradually over the course of the entire Gallifrey series and is completely in tune with the character.

Collateral by Lisa McMullin.

The next chapter comes from relative newcomer Lisa McMullin. However, the long history of Big Finish proves that some new blood can be a brilliant thing. The Time Lords have made their decision on the fate of Ysalus. Their decision is short lived. Their plan is reverse by a new sinister force… the Sythes. Romana has a plan that might help everyone, if she can get her long game to succeed… But what’s a long game to time travellers?

Continuing the story thread from the previous episode, McMullin gives us an expertly crafted race against the clock story with a difference. A bootstrap-infused rescue mission, whilst our allies are pelted at from all sides. The stakes and tension ratchet up as the story progresses, leading listeners to wonder who will succeed. Add to that more terrific performances from the regulars involved alongside Carlyss Peer and Nicholas Kahn, and you have a truly tense episode that grips you fully for the finale…

Gallifrey: Time War 2 -Terrence Hardiman (Rassilon) (c) Big Finish

Assassins by Matt Fitton.

The king of the boxsets, Matt Fitton, pens the finale for this set. We begin to wonder who can we really trust? Rassilon has Gallifrey in a mad grip of power and is ready to do anything he can to win this war. The perfect time for assassins to breach Gallifrey’s defences and try to kill him. As the siege unfolds, Narvin is given an important choice to make. Romana is seeking an answer; who will do the unspeakable to save Gallifrey?

Fitton closes out the set in style with this tale filled to the brim with double dealings and bases under siege. Characters are put through emotional and moral hell. Then we get a gripping climax leaving us to wonder where the series can possibly go next. As more and more is revealed about each character’s intentions, who will survive? Who will be broken? And why is next February so far away? Featuring spectacular performances including Hardiman’s Rassilon at his most grandiose, Silas Carson’s Sicari being another notable addition to his cavalcade, and Samuel Clemens at his most unhinged, it’s hard to think of any better way to conclude this set!

Overall

After the Dalek and character heavy first volume, Volume 2 strips back and gives us a government in fear and terror, leading to drama and tension aplenty. With expertly crafted stories and masterful performances from all involved, stellar direction from Scott Handcock, pinpoint sound design from Russell McGee, and mesmeric music from Ioan Morris, this series has proved that Gallifrey during the Time War isn’t a one trick pony. The only question is, there are two more sets to go… but will there be a future for Gallifrey after that?

Gallifrey: Time War: Volume 2 is available to purchase on CD and Download from the Big Finish website.

Gallifrey: Time War 2 – (c) Big Finish

Synopsis

This title was released in March 2019. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until May 31st 2019, and on general sale after this date.

Rassilon has returned – summoned back from the dead, to lead his people through their greatest crisis.

But the Time Lords will reap what they have sown, and the consequences of this resurrection will determine Gallifrey’s fate.

And in among the schemes and strategies of war, Romana and Narvin are losing friends and allies, as they become ever more isolated…

Four new chapters in the Gallifrey saga:

1. Havoc by David Llewellyn.

In the aftermath of Rassilon’s return, Romana finds herself at the heart of the War Council’s machinations, with the High Council, the CIA, and the Lord President’s new security force all vying for control.

But then, a mysterious stranger arrives in the Capitol itself. And they bring a terrible warning from the future…

2. Partisans by Una McCormack.

When the world of Ysalus becomes a strategic target for the Time Lords and their opponents, Gallifrey takes an interest in the planet’s civil unrest.

But the CIA and the War Council each have their own strategy.

And, as good intentions only make things worse, the true horror of the Time War will be visited upon the people of Ysalus.

3. Collateral by Lisa McMullin.

As the scavenging Sythes descend on Ysalus, Narvin discovers how far his people will go to protect their interests.

The universe is discovering that no place is safe from the fury of battle.

Every victory in the Time War comes at a price, and too often it is the innocent who will pay…

4. Assassins by Matt Fitton.

Pushed to the brink by Rassilon’s actions, Romana is thinking the unthinkable.

A new threat has breached Gallifrey’s defences. And its target is clear. A race of assassins has evolved at the heart of the Time War, dedicated to one purpose. The Sicari are coming for Rassilon…

Written By: David Llewellyn, Una McCormack, Lisa McMullin and Matt Fitton.
Directed By: Scott Handcock.

Cast

Lalla Ward (Romana), Seán Carlsen (Narvin), Terrence Hardiman (Rassilon), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Livia), Samuel Clemens (Mantus), Samuel Gosrani (Eris), Paul Marc Davis (Trave), Lucy Robinson (Bovari), Rebecca Root (Cantico), Jessica Hayles (Aladra), Abra Thompson (Ysta), Stephen Critchlow (Temmis), Carlyss Peer (Knyla), Nicholas Khan (Dalia), Silas Carson (The Sicari). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: Scott Handcock.
Script Editor: Matt Fitton.
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.

Gallifrey: Time War – Volume 2 is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £23 on CD and £20 to download. The Big Finish App, available on Apple and Android devices, also makes listening even easier. It is a free app to download, just search in your app store.

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Jack Ryan
Jack (real name John, calls himself Jack as a pun on Tom Clancy’s character) is a reviewer from Wexford, Ireland. An avid fan of sci-fi from five years old, with an unhealthy addiction to Doctor Who for the past thirteen years. His speciality for review is Big Finish audios, which he has had an even greater addiction to for the last six years. Other claims to fame include a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing, a co-organiser for the WexWorlds Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, and Gaming Festival, regular tweetalongs and riffings of Who every Thursday evening, and once nearly sent Matthew Waterhouse to hospital with a concussion.

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