In Review: Big Finish: The Churchill Years Volume 01

This series gives us four new adventures featuring Prime minister Winston Churchill and The Doctor.

Synopsis: This series gives us four new adventures featuring Prime minister Winston Churchill and The Doctor.

Review: This boxset builds upon the Winston Churchill that we first met in ‘Victory Of The Daleks’, which saw Matt Smith’s Doctor help Churchill in the war effort by exposing a Dalek plot.

In that episode Churchill made mention of having worked with the Doctor before and this set kind of builds upon that by giving us four adventures set at different points in Churchill’s political career.

Once again Ian McNeice lends his substantial acting talent to the role and maintains a very British demeanor throughout all four stories, which feature the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctor’s. The one slight let down for me was not finding an actor that could voice the three different Doctor’s with more authentic accents. For example when voicing the 9th Doctor as part of the narration McNeice isn’t really up to the challenge of a Manchester accent. The way the writers got around this was by limiting the Doctor’s Dialogue throughout all adventures. But it is most noticeable in the first and second story in which the Doctor has a fairly large role.

With the exception of my issue with the voicing of The Doctor, who is really more of a background player in these stories, we have four very different styles of stories here, which can be enjoyed separately because there isn’t really a link between them.

The style of these stories is very much like the Early Adventure series in which the central figure narrates the events.

The Oncoming Storm by Phil Mulryne

In this story we see Churchill in his role as First Lord of the Admiralty. A role that pretty relaunched his political career and was his stepping stone to becoming Prime Minister. In this story he is tasked with recovering a stone, which holds hidden properties, which make it an extremely dangerous weapon. So deadly that some Oddly spoken robotic aliens will stop at nothing to get it.

Emily Atack provides a fantastic turn as Churchill’s new secretary Hetty Warner who proves herself more than once during both this story and the second one.

This story features the 9th Doctor who for much of it is lurking and mostly interacts with Hetty during the story.

Hounded by Alan Barnes

This story gives us a clever twist on Churchill’s struggle with depression, which is something he often refereed to as his Black Dog. Churchill is now in office as Prime Minister and the burden of responsibility weighs heavy on his shoulders.

Hetty is actively going out of her way in this story to protect Churchill by making sure no one can take advantage of his pessimistic state of mind.

The tenth Doctor’s arrival in this story is met with suspicion as he is marked a trailer during his efforts to try and help Churchill.

This is perhaps the creepiest story on this set and it has a heartbreaking moment toward the end as we lose one of Churchill’s most trusted allies.

Living History by Justin Richards

In this story Winston gets to travel in the Tardis with the 11th Doctor and gets to meet a young Kazran Sardick who fans will remember from ‘A Christmas Carol’. In this story Sardick is voiced by Danny Horn.

When a Tardis malfunction deposits Kazran and Winston in Ancient Rome. The two find themselves embroiled in the conflict between the Roman’s and Ancient Britain’s, but a mysterious Bronze God is helping the Britain’s in their fight.

This for me is the stand out story for this set. There are some fantastic moments such as Churchill lending a hand to Julius Caesar with strategy.

This also illustrates the best way to use the Daleks in any given story and its a natural successor to ‘Victory Of The Daleks’, which gets a nice call back.

 The Chartwell Metamorphosis by Ken Bentley

This gives us a Churchill in his retirement years at Chartwell where he is breeding butterflies and writing his memoirs. But there is a seemingly more sinister cocoon on the brink of metamorphosis, which is preparing to feast on more than just shrubberies.

This story has some genuine funny moments in which Churchill chastises his staff for being over protective of him, but it also takes on a creepy turn and feels more like a classic Doctor Who episode from the Hinchcliff Era than a modern story, which wasn’t altogether a bad thing.

I loved the closing moments where Winston asks the Doctor for another trip in the Tardis.

This set is well worth the money because you get four solid stories, which take advantage of many of Churchill’s character traits, but also provide us with some fun new characters for him to play off of.

Although I was a little taken out of things by Ian McNeice narrating the Doctor’s dialogue in all four stories. There is no question that he is the go to man to play Churchill.

The acting and sound design throughout all four stories is solid. I especially enjoyed Emily Atack performance as Hetty during the first two episodes. And Laura Rogers put in a brilliant performance as the somewhat naive  Queen Tristahna in ‘Living History’.

 

9.6
The Churchill Years Volume 01
  • Strong Stories And Ian McNeice as Churchill
  • Felt that another actor would have been better to narrate the various doctors.
  • Stories
    9.0
  • Acting
    9.5
  • Packaging
    10
  • Music & Sound Effects
    10

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth.

In the past few years he has written for ‘Star Trek’ Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com

When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics.

Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net

You can contact ian at: [email protected]

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