Lost Souls

Posted in Audio by - January 24, 2022
Lost Souls

Aired 10 September 2008


Produced as part of BBC Radio 4’s Big Bang Day to celebrate CERN’s Large Hadron Collider becoming operational in order to recreate the conditions of the universe directly following the Big Bang, ‘Lost Souls’ by Joseph Lidster sees Torchwood investigating The European Organization for Nuclear Research when UNIT medical officer Martha Jones becomes concerned about a spate of mysterious illnesses and disappearances.

To be fair, this story had an almost impossible task of having to introduce Torchwood to a more casual radio audience while also satisfying fans of the franchise and providing at least some sort of education and insight into the goings-on at CERN, and so it’s understandable to an extent that ‘Lost Souls’ is a bit muddled in its overall delivery. Sadly, the whole affair is not helped by the fact that the Higgs Boson particle being sought is only ambiguously described as being a life particle without explaining that it is the particle that gives all other particles mass. Likewise, while a villain that rips the neutrons out of its victims’ component atoms is an intriguing one that could lead to plenty of scientific discussion given the destructive consequences that would obviously result, the victims simply glowing as a result is hardly the most effective narrative device even when trying to support the misguided angel narrative that nearly brings the world to the brink of destruction. Unfortunately, the resolution that relies on delving into the organization’s past works to cancel out the current one is somewhat underwhelming and a bit too convenient, meaning that the scientific aspect that by necessity is quite prominent for the occasion is a consistently weak aspect of the script.

‘Lost Souls’ is set fairly soon after the loss of Tosh and Owen, and although the need for an accessibility to a new audience means that it cannot fully explore the emotions of its leads at this time, Lidster does well to at least mention a memorial service and to have Martha pointedly ask Jack and Gwen how they are doing. It’s neither subtle nor wholly satisfying narratively, but it does at least give a sense of placement while reminding the audience that these are genuine people who must cope with loss and grief just like anyone else. And while there are moments of overacting, the chemistry among the leads is brilliant and allows ‘Lost Souls’ to effortlessly continue the Torchwood saga following the harrowing events of the second televised series. John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Freema Agyeman effortlessly bring their characters to the audio medium, and although the plot itself is incredibly standard fare that attempts to interject science with an alien menace, they do well to consistently provide a sense of genuine danger no matter the plot conveniences such as a simple lack of an off switch that are needed to keep the threat present.

 ‘Lost Souls’ is somewhat awkward right from the start with a blatant and forced introduction of Torchwood and its relation to aliens, and the plot never fully manages to truly capitalize on the emotional aftermath of losing two close friends nor on the potential of this setting with the real-world dangers and fears a device such as the Large Hadron Collider entails. Still, the seamless incorporation of humour as highlighted by Ianto pretending to be a Welsh ambassador accompanied by wife Gwen and PA Jack bolsters this unique experiment, and the result is an intriguing and ambitious- if ultimately forgettable- instalment that nonetheless highlights the viability that Torchwood has within the audio medium.

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