Tom Price proves nobody knows Andy Davidson better than the actor who plays him, in his hilarious writing debut
Like many an actor before him, Torchwood’s Tom Price has stepped behind the typewriter to write his own script. The result, Thirst Trap, also stars Price in his familiar role as Sgt Andy Davidson. He doesn’t however, sing the theme tune (though Price and co-star Kai Owens do-do-do-DO-do-ing their way through the opening would have been appropriately awesome.) All the same, there’s a long list of things that can go wrong with such projects. Chiefly, that we might wind up with a story revealing Andy is actually the sexist, smartest, most Bruce Willis-y member of the Torchwood cast. In reality this is about as far from the likes of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk novels as you can imagine. Instead, it’s a fun, cheeky, brilliant slice of the lighter side of Torchwood.
If anything, with references to things like Andy’s multiple chins, Price is very self deprecating form. But then, with him and Owen apparently the only members of the original cast who ever seems to age; volunteering for new in-costume photoshoots while everyone else stays frozen in 2000s coloured amber, they’re no strangers to taking one for the team.
Thirst Trap is the Andiest Andy story ever, and as witty and funny as that suggests
Tom Price also clearly knows Andy better than anyone else. The writing of the character has admittedly around the map a bit before now. Indeed, the Andys in the monthly range, Among Us, Soho, and Stranded sometimes feeling like variants from alternate realities. The BBC Wales team may have originally designed Andy as little more than a device for injecting exposition. But nobody has done more to shape him into the daffy, loveable, and eternally optimistic spark of joy in the dark grittiness of the Torchwood landscape than Price himself. The result with Thirst Trap is the Andiest Andy story ever.
Thirst Trap’s concept mixes that classic tactic of modern Who, making something everyday utterly terrifying, and applies it to something only Torchwood could tackle: Tinder. Or rather, the ‘Now or Never’ app, which matches users within 20 minutes of your location as potential love interests. It’s the dating sensation that’s sweeping pilot city Cardiff. In fact, it’s so addictive police are leaving crime scenes, firefighters are failing to show up at burning houses, and mothers are abandoning babies home alone, all dashing to their next date. But the proof that there’s some malign force at work is when even Rhys can’t resist the app’s lure. As both he and Andy agree, he’s much too scared of Gwen to have done that of his own free will.
Andy, Rhys, and Anna make a lively threesome as they try save the city from love
The race is on to save Cardiff from being love bombed out of existence before Torchwood, and Gwen, get on the case. Our panicky, bickering pair of heroes are joined by Anna (Rebecca Trehearn), Andy’s latest Now or Never date. And underneath all the app-induced simpering at each other about adopting hypoallergenic dogs, the police officer and the civil servant seem a good match. There’s echoes of Andy’s relationship with Yvonne, Anna the strong minded, practical ying to Andy’s soft hearted, intuitive yang. Only, y’know, not evil. Which is always a plus in any potential girlfriend.
As you’d expect, a scenario like this is only as good as the jokes and performances that inhabit it. Again, Price and Owen don’t so much understand the assignment as live and breath it. There’s a wonderful chemistry of lightness and truth here, both men perfectly striking a balance between embracing the absurdity of these shenanigans while feeling like real people and genuine friends. In particular, Owen provides a timely reminder of just how good he is with this type of material, after a few years of the Big Finish writers spinning a big wheel to decide which new way to torture Rhys.
Few ranges can bounce from darkness to laughter as nimbly as Torchwood
The Torchwood range producing great drama is perhaps a little taken for granted these days. But creating such perfect comedy too feels like cheating. Though Price has obviously been paying attention to those dramas, crafting here what he himself terms a “James Goss ending.” What exactly that means you’ll have to listen to Thirst Trap to find out. But you won’t be surprised that it involves some imaginatively disturbing imagery and a plot that suddenly gracefully pirouettes into a cunningly surprising, yet somehow inevitable endgame.
Only the villain’s backstory and motivation, once finally revealed, feel a little held together by string and contrivance. But this isn’t the villain’s story. It’s Andy and Rhys’ and it’s a brilliant one at that. Blogtor would be tempted to wish for more, but given the teasing Price receives in the accompanying interviews about how long Thirst Trap took him to write, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath. All the same, let’s circle 2030 in our calendars and hope for Thirst Trap 2: Thirst Trapper.
Torchwood: Thirst Trap
You have 20 minutes to find your perfect mate. Then you may never see them again. Now or Never has launched in Cardiff and something’s clearly very wrong with the app.
Not only is everyone going on dates, but everyone’s on the same date. The same meals. The same hobbies. The same small talk.
Andy Davidson would be investigating. But he’s got a date.
Torchwood: Thirst Trap is available to own as a collector’s edition 1-disc CD (+ download for just £10.99) or as a digital download only (for just £8.99), exclusively here.