Double Part One

Posted in Audio by - January 13, 2023
Double Part One

Released January 2023


As Big Finish has continued to expand its Torchwood range of adventures, so, too, has it expanded the eras and leaderships of the furtive organization on display. With almost all of these steps outside of the televised era being a rousing success, it’s no surprise that Big Finish should look to bridge the gap between the stewardships of Norton Folgate and Yvonne Hartman, featuring Roberta Craven in a 1970s London filled with suspicion and murder in ‘Double Part One’ by Guy Adams.

At a time of global energy crisis, Torchwood is alerted when the entire Libyan embassy is assassinated in a manner that leaves no opportunity to hush the affair or hide the evidence from onlookers. As Britain looks to find ways to lessen its energy dependence on Arab nations, oil companies are subject to hostile takeovers by the mysterious Nessoil that the British government seems drawn to even if it means severing ties with more familiar companies with longer track records of success. Craven understands that Nessoil is hardly trying to hide its Nestene influence and affiliation, but only she and a reporter with whom she crosses paths and who has no knowledge of aliens seem interested in looking into these affairs. What follows is a very slow burn that delves into a far more political domain than Torchwood has ever explored, adding elements of Counter-Measures and the Third Doctor era to decidedly bring Torchwood into the middle of government as Craven looks to find more pieces to this increasingly complex puzzle and the pattern she fears exists.

Of course, as the first of a two-part adventure, this first part cannot wholly be judged on its own. Aside from Craven being part of Torchwood, there is no broader exploration of how the organization as a whole operates at this time nor what it is capable of, and Craven realistically could be part of any organization that has a passing knowledge of the Nestenes and Autons without changing this opening part of the story at all. However, Craven proves to be an inherently fascinating character who instantly proves more than capable of leading not just an isolated story but an entire range should Big Finish choose to expand upon this era more going forward. As a shrewd and cunning ex-MI5 agent must resort to alcohol to temper her Asperger’s and hyperkinetic disorder, Craven is able to quickly take charge of any situation she is in, her immense attention to detail and relative lack of patience making for a unique blend that serves her well even if she may at times be offputting to those around her. Indeed, this is a role that in some hands may alienate some listeners, but Louise Jameson expertly delves into the many nuances and layers of this character and her interactions with the people and world around her to create one of the more captivating characters in Torchwood’s increasingly diverse history, deftly avoiding the stereotypes of neurodivergence but never minimizing its presence and its effects either.

Alongside Jameson, Omari Douglas is excellent as reporter Neal Hart who quickly becomes entwined in alien affairs about which he has no knowledge while investigating the conflicting dynamics between oil companies Ossam and Nessoil. He very much keeps this political thriller grounded in reality with pitch perfect reactions throughout as he follows his desire to find the truth and present it to the public, allowing the world of Antony Howell’s Cornwell and Don Gilet’s Herman Baker to unfold naturally with all of the requisite information accordingly stated. Understandably, the Autons are used somewhat sparingly as the intrigue of this world is introduced and developed, but Adams’s script capitalizes on each of their appearances to maximize their impact and resoundingly show the inherent danger they pose even if the overall motivations remain somewhat shrouded. ‘Double Part One’ is very much a part-one story that raises more questions than it answers, and even though it does not feel like Torchwood that has been seen in any capacity to this point, the superb characterization, world-building, direction, and sound design make for an enthralling listen nonetheless that more than capably sets the scene for what is hopefully an equally impactful finale.

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