In Review: Big Finish: Torchwood One: Before The Fall

Yvonne demonstrated why she was the boss. Having resources isn’t the same thing as understanding resources.

Synopsis: London, 2005. Yvonne Hartman is the undisputed head of Torchwood One. Above the government, beyond the police, she has excellent people skills; enjoys regular tea with the Queen; and effortlessly defends the British Empire from alien threats.

Yvonne Hartman is excellent at her job, and inspires devotion in everyone who works with her – until, one day, she makes a terrible mistake. We all make mistakes. But only at Torchwood can a single mistake plunge your world into interstellar war.

Yvonne Hartman’s facing the fight of her life. One she’s going to win.

New Girl by Joseph Lidster

“They’ve been coming to us for years. And we’ve been kept in the dark. My name’s Rachel Allan. And I’m Torchwood”

It’s Rachel Allan’s first day at Torchwood. Torchwood only takes the brightest and the best – and Rachel’s wondering if Yvonne Hartman’s made a terrible mistake in picking her.

Plunged into a world of alien invasions and office politics, Rachel’s desperate to fit in. For one thing, she really wants this job. And, for another, she knows what happens at Torchwood if you fail.

Through The Ruins by Jenny T Colgan

“Ianto, please. It’s all… it’s all gone wrong. I don’t know what to think any more.”

Away Days at Torchwood aren’t what you’d expect. Yes, there’s the forced camaraderie, the team-building exercises, and the chance for long-held rivalries to boil over. But Torchwood Away Days also have the potential to get very lethal very quickly.

Yvonne Hartman’s extremely worried by this year’s Away Day. But she’s got other things on her mind – something’s very wrong with Torchwood.

Uprising by Matt Fitton

“Torchwood. It’s taken the best part of a month, but I’ve finally got things running how they should be. How they should have been all along.”

Torchwood has experienced some radical changes, but things are finally settling down. Everyone has pulled together and is trying to put the past behind them. Well, except for Yvonne Hartman – she’s out to win the future.

There’s one problem. Someone seems to have started an interstellar war. Someone who knows Torchwood from the inside out.

Review: The Big Finish era of Torchwood has been excellent so far, because the writers have avoided the biggest prequel pitfall. They’ve figured out how to maintain narrative tension even though listeners know what happens to the characters. Torchwood One: Before The Fall is no exception.

Writer Joseph Lidster gave listeners a superb bait-and-switch story line in “New Girl.” He almost pushed the annoying exposition and quirky character beats too far on purpose so that we’d start to tune them out and not be paying attention for the pay off. My only gripe is that he forgot to provide a logical reason why Pippa would see Rachel as next in the chain of command. I would have been happier with a Kind Hearts and Coronets variant where she had to eliminate more people ahead of her first.

Jenny T Colgan’s “Through The Ruins” provided brilliantly cynical commentary on corporate trust building exercises. They suck, even with the best of intentions.

Matt Fitton’s “Uprising” is by far my favorite story, though. I really dislike stupid characters. It’s why I’m a Doctor Who fan in the first place. I want narratives in which all parties give as good as they get. Yvonne demonstrated why she was the boss. Having resources isn’t the same thing as understanding resources.

All the actors were at the top of their games. That said, Tracy-Ann Oberman led the way throughout. She made listeners care and see her POV even with Rachel as narrator. Rachel would’ve been a blip on Yvonne’s radar even if listeners hadn’t known how things would eventually turn out. That’s the mark of a strong performance.

  • You can purchase Torchwood One: Before The Fall here.

Written By: Joseph Lidster, Jenny T Colgan, Matt Fitton

Directed By: Barnaby Edwards


Tracy-Ann Oberman (Yvonne Hartman), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Gerard McCarthy (Dean), Sophie Winkleman (Rachel Allan), Robert Daws (Soren), Tim Bentinck (Thomas), Nisha Nayar (Guleraana), Lorelei King (Pippa), Damian Lynch (Kieran), Simon Hickson (Ziggy), Rachid Sabitri (Mehdi), Helen Goldwyn (Receptionist), Philip Childs (Dave). Other Humans, Aliens and Torchwood Agents played by members of the cast.

Produced by James Goss

Script edited by Scott Handcock

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish: Torchwood One: Before The Fall
  • The Good: Story, Performances
  • The Bad: The internal logic behind the chain-of-command was off.
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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