Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince

Posted in Audio by - January 25, 2023
Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince

Released January 2023


With the last audio volume of Class released in April 2020, it seemed as though this short-lived but inspired spin-off of Doctor Who may have come to its end, its overall narrative strictly limited to the confines of the televised run and never beyond the tantalizing cliffhanger tease of the arrival of the Weeping Angels. Although Blair Mowat’s one-off ‘Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince’ is something of an expansive side story used to further develop certain elements of the televised run rather than a truly new story, this enthusiastic return to this world and the suggestion of what may still be in store for the franchise is nonetheless a most welcome surprise in Big Finish’s release calendar.

In a remarkably short period of time, Class wonderfully introduced and began to develop a strong core cast of young characters, the burgeoning relationship between Charlie and Matteusz a particularly resonant highlight. Within the overarching narrative of Class on screen, however, that relationship at times seemed to develop and progress a bit too quickly with certain key elements occurring off screen. It’s here that ‘Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince’ shines most, taking a scarred and confused Charlie who is trying to find his place on this new world following the loss of his entire species and giving him a beacon of hope and source of optimism when everything around him is so unfamiliar. Greg Austin and Jordan Renzo perfectly recapture the energy of their young characters and play off of each expertly, the distinct cultural and language differences of each providing a certain humour and empathy as they progress from an awkward invitation to study physics over coffee to declaring their mutual love. Though it of course would have been nice to have more of the original cast reprise their roles here, the focus on the smaller moments of this relationship as Charlie also tries to learn about the nuances of this culture as a whole and its seeming obsession with flatulence and football retrospectively strengthens the emotional resonance of this bond and makes some of Charlie’s thoughts and decisions regarding Quill, the Shadow Kin, and the Cabinet of Souls all the more impactful given the viewpoints that Matteusz presents based on his own family history and experiences.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much actual story to this release beyond the deeper dive into Charlie’s thoughts through both diary entries and his interactions with Matteusz, but the narrative fortunately makes the most of Charlie being anything but a flawless hero. This is very much a young man driven by emotion, and while some of his complaints about his lodging do purposefully come off as unduly petty given his royal upbringings, his thoughts of vengeance are a strong counterpoint to the strong sense of family and belonging he begins to feel for the first time in his life when surrounded by is new group of friends. It’s a very strong reminder of Charlie’s journey throughout the televised series as plenty of key moments are quickly referenced, but it doesn’t necessarily do much beyond expanding upon personal elements that were hinted at previously. In fact, despite the incredibly strong performances and palpable emotion at its core, ‘Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince’ may perhaps be most remembered for marking the first time that the narrative- even if ever so briefly- steps beyond that ending cliffhanger through the brilliant return of Cyril Nri as the Chair of the Governors at Coal Hill Academy. However, with no further adventures of Class confirmed at this time, this epilogue has the potential to become either a brilliant point from which continuing tales can springboard or an unnecessarily cruel tease at what may have been with Nri involved if nothing further is ultimately explored. Nonetheless, fans of Class will assuredly appreciate this intimate journey occurring in tandem with the bigger events shown on screen, but it’s a fairly safe and restrained approach from a narrative standpoint given how long Class has gone without any new stories and so could inevitably result in a degree of disappointment despite the very high quality of this production.

  • Release Date: 1/2023
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