When Desmond Shilling arrives at Morlington Hill, he would never have expected to be thrown into the world of mystery and murders. But secrets hid and fester in the shadows of Morlington.

Befriending the Headmistress of the local girl’s school, Lavinia Sixpence, the pair begin to uncover the secrets of their town. But soon some horrible truths will come to light…

Shilling & Sixpence Investigate

Though an original series from Big Finish, this concept has some unusual origins. Coming from the pen of Nigel Fairs, it is a series of plays that take place in different locations for each story. Big Finish have worked with Fairs to create eight brand new adventures for the series featuring some original cast members and some Big Finish veterans such as Louise Jameson, David Warner, Cecilia Imrie, Matthew Waterhouse and Lisa Bowerman. Prepare for a brand new world of murder, mystery and mayhem.

The Missing Years / Dark Shadows

‘Shilling & Sixpence’ has a different layout to other Big Finish productions in that each pair of episodes form one story. The opening two, ‘The Missing Year’ and ‘Dark Shadows’ takes the form of a traditional murder mystery: an old house, a family with deep, dark secrets. And an abundance of servants who saw more than they were willing to let on.

‘The Missing Year’ quickly introduces us to the main characters, Desmond Shilling and Lavinia Sixpence, before throwing them into their first mystery. Nigel Fairs manages to expertly give us enough background on our main characters for us to know them. Cecilia Imrie and David Warner instantly feel at home in the title roles, almost as if they have always been playing them.

The second episode throws us further into the mystery and allows Matthew Waterhouse to give a brilliant performance as Viscount Robert. Undoubtedly one of appeals of this show in the theatre is the slightly exaggerated performances from the cast but this takes a little getting used too on the audio medium. Luckily though by the time the second episode rolls around, the supporting cast settle into their roles and give us some excellent performances. The ending result is that the opening two episodes are a tremendous success that promises some exciting episodes to come.

In the Silent Dead of Night / A Very Messy Business

The next pair of episodes take a more supernatural slant on the murder mystery genre. Fairs seems to delight in using the well-worn horror tropes of old, isolated houses and storms to weave a tale of death. The murderer uses a séance to do their deeds. But they make their mistake in inviting Shilling and Sixpence along to participate.

Celia Imrie and David Warner have really settled into their roles at this point and have an absolute blast as do the rest of the cast, immersing themselves in the horror genre of this story. Louise Jameson is brilliant as the linking character Ms. Levi, a character who is paired with Warner. The duo of Jameson and Warner have a brilliant chemistry and their scenes together over the course of all these stories are very enjoyable.

An Appointment with God / The Dying Room

Episodes five and six are most certainly the darkest in tone and elements of the story are particularly shocking. One of the appeals of this set is that, although each story is different in tone, they all form one long story-line. These episodes take elements from the previous two sets of stories and bring them to the forefront in a seriously twisted story.

Imrie is put in the limelight here as Sixpence is put through the wringer, capturing the desperation and horror of her situation perfectly. ‘An Appointment with Death’ & ‘The Dying Room’ are certainly the highlights of this set.

The Face of an Angel / The Black Widow

Things come full circle in the final two episodes as the puzzle pieces left hanging in the previous adventures finally fit into place. To say much more of these two episodes would ruin the whole set but it becomes clear here how well crafted this story from Nigel Fairs is.

There are some great performances here, not least from Celia Imrie, David Warner and Louise Jameson who are at the top of their game. The final twist is a surprise but if you had been listening from the beginning, it is one you might see coming but this is just another example of how well done this set really is.

Overall

‘Shilling & Sixpence’ is an excellent new addition to Big Finish’s growing catalogue, with an unusual setting in the dark town of Morlington. Even by the end of eight episodes, it still feels like there’s so much more to learn about the town and its secrets!

Nigel Fairs has crafted something fantastic with this set and it isn’t hard to see why his theatre troupe have been performing these characters for the past twenty years. It is also a nice note that Fairs included his regular theatre cast, such Abi Harris, Max Day, Radley Mason and Becky Crinnion who perform expertly in this set. The Big Finish regulars are excellent too and director Samuel Clemens knits the two sets of actors together so perfectly it’s hard to tell who has been in this game a long time and who hasn’t.

‘Shilling & Sixpence Investigate’ is the third release in the new Big Finish Originals range alongside titles like ATA Girl and Jeremiah Bourne in Time. This new property is another excellent continuation of this download-only range. It will be hard to understand if this set gets anything other than positive praise and lets hope Big Finish decide to continue the adventures of these heroes…

‘Shilling & Sixpence Investigate’ is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.

Synopsis

An all-new original series from Big Finish Productions, available singly or as part of the Big Finish Originals bundle

Based on Nigel Fairs’s “murder mystery serial” that has been running for over 21 years (new episodes performed every month in country houses, steam trains, jailhouses, castles and restaurants throughout the UK), Shilling & Sixpence Investigate takes place in a sometimes quirky, sometimes dark world where nobody is quite whom they seem.

With a stellar cast that includes Celia Imrie, David Warner, Louise Jameson, Matthew Waterhouse and Samuel Clemens, Big Finish listeners are about to discover why audiences come back month after month, year after year, for another episode…

1. The Missing Year / Dark Shadows

February 1939. Desmund Shilling arrives in Morlington Hill, deep in the heart of Cornwall, having been given the post of Head of English at Morlington School for Girls by the hearty headmistress Lavinia Sixpence.

Not far away, at Boothby Hall, Inspector Cribbage and Sergeant Salt are investigating the horrific murder of Lord Pluck – who is to blame? His grieving widow, Lady Penelope? His impetuous son, Viscount Robert? The no-nonsense cook or the handsome young school caretaker Joseph?

Miss Sixpence and Mr Shilling mount their own investigation, and very soon, horrible truths come to light…

2. In the Silent Dead of Night / A Very Messy Business

The eccentric Baroness Pippin invites a select group of people over to the remote Pippin Island for a séance, held by her theatrical houseguest Madam Caysey. When one of the circle is murdered, Miss Sixpence thinks she knows whodunnit… but, as storm clouds gather over the island, nobody is safe…

3. An Appointment with God / The Dying Room

As the sea mist crawls across the village, tales circulate of a mysterious creature lurking in the fog. When Lavinia is kidnapped, Desmund Shilling realises that she is in mortal danger, as all the appalling events that have occurred since he arrived in the village start to form a pattern…

4.  The Face of an Angel / The Black Widow

On the eve of the Second World War, the villagers prepare for their annual St Bernard’s Day celebration. But all is not well, as Inspector Cribbage tells Sister Mary Benedicta at the freshly dug grave of a much loved villager…

Written By: Nigel Fairs
Directed By: Samuel Clemens

Cast

Celia Imrie (Miss Lavinia Sixpence), David Warner (Desmund Shilling), Louise Jameson (Mrs Levi / Sister Mary Benedicta), Matthew Waterhouse (Viscount Robert), Samuel Clemens (Lord Pluck), Nigel Fairs (Inspector Cribbage / Neville Chamberlain / Mr Miller), Max Day (Sergeant Salt / Griffin / Father Simon), Abi Harris (Lady Penelope / Mrs Volkov / Monica Blake / Jacqueline Jollie / Baronness Pippin / Miss Tullett / Mary Clench / Sister Ann), Radley Mason (Joseph Turner), Rebecca Crinnion (Peggie Pinn / Mrs Antrumm / Madam Caysey / The Duchess of Truro / Florence Constable), Lisa Bowerman (Mrs Harris / Phyllis Elliot), Suzanne Procter (Vocalist). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: Nigel Fairs
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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