Goodbye Piccadilly

Posted in Audio by - June 29, 2018
Goodbye Piccadilly

Released June 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Erstwhile Torchwood operative Norton Folgate first crossed paths with Andy Davidson in ‘Ghost Mission’ while acting as an impartial assessor in the present day to determine Andy’s suitability to join the clandestine operation, the two forming an unlikely double act that simply demanded a second appearance. With ‘Goodbye Piccadilly,’ James Goss subverts expectations for this second encoutner by sending Andy back to 1950s Soho where the streets are lined with gangsters, rumours, and betrayals.

With Norton asking for help as Andy awakes naked while chained to a bed in a burning building, it’s clear from the start that ‘Goodbye Piccadilly’ will be anything but a predictable affair, and the whirlwind tour of a Soho not featured in the traditional history books that ensues as Norton seeks to prove through Andy’s observations that he is not a double agent is magnificently vibrant and at times sordid and captures the spirit of the hidden subcultures of the times perfectly. This is a world of gangsters, brothels, and gay people thriving despite the constraints of the law that passes by unseen to the general populace, and these colourful locales and characters being based on fact rather than fantasy allows a most unexpected exploration of a bygone time so fondly remembered. The monthly Torchwood audios often feature a very small cast, but the advent of Lucy Sheen, Liam Hourican, Wild Scolding, and Rachel Atkins allow this expansive endeavour to breathe and develop excellently with performances that are equally evocative and immersive.

Wisely, Goss does not simply flip the script of the original and instead still features Andy as trying his best to keep up with Norton in what very much is Norton’s world and element. With attitudes strictly against Norton and his guilt assumed by both the presumed heroes and villains alike, there’s never a sense of true safety, and Norton’s more shrouded associations with this side of society ensure that Andy never quite knows what to expect or assume. But although there are hints of a hidden unhappiness beneath Norton’s gaudy exterior, this assessment takes an unexpected turn when Andy becomes the bearer of an alien message that threatens to burn him from the inside out, a message that proves to be the key for a powerful artefact hidden away but posed to do immense danger. After a series of telepaths fail to liberate him, the stakes are raised immediately, and Norton’s disclosure of an alliance between Torchwood and H.G. Wells that helped to create a cover story for an invasion that this artefact remains a remnant of is a fascinating bit of history that further develops just how long the organisation has been around and just how ingrained in the public consciousness it is without the public ever really knowing.

Andy quite rightly asks Norton if he only brought him back here to remember specific details about how this newest attack that becomes remembered as a publicity stunt ends to help him play the hero, but though Andy ends up saving the day by transferring his key to the pursuing gangster while withholding a crucial piece of information, Norton only becomes the focus of further questions as the city is saved and a sense of normality returns. Norton has always flitted in the shadows, and Andy’s pointed questioning about whether Norton truly wanted to save the city or simply to stop the investigation into him by getting rid of the two people who could stop him perfectly strikes at the very core of this enigmatic figure who is known to have associations with those that Torchwood would oppose. Although Andy’s time in the past is cut short before he can find the answers, the stage is once more set for further exploration of the more sordid affairs of this fascinating individual, and ‘Goodbye Piccadilly’ as a whole is a strong follow-up to a beloved tale that expertly recaptures the uniquely frenetic energy of this duo in a rarely-seen side of a familiar locale as Andy tries to keep pace with a man who just might have the next several moves already mapped out in his head while playing both sides expertly.

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