Doctor Who: The Churchill Years Volume 02 by Paul Morris, Iain McLaughlin, Alan Barnes, Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky (CD review).

Following the success of Volume 01 of Churchill’s memoirs, Big Finish cleverly followed up with Volume 02 which Ken Bentley directs the wide ranging and age-ranging tall tales.

How singularly appropriate that Winston Churchill, a man known for his oratorical excellence should have his own audio range. His ability to rouse people and carry through such important events in wartime Britain has forever fixed him in many people’s minds as a hero as great as the Doctor. He is not without controversy and had many failings, as all humans do, but this series focuses mainly on the positive and dramatic nuances of his character. It is incredibly inventive and picks up tiny threads of history to weave its magic.

Young Winston by Paul Morris

At the age of twenty-one, Churchill (Ian Batchelor) has an unexpected encounter with a consulting detective but not the one you were expecting. Weaving two stories together, from Churchill’s first experience of war in Havana to being stalked by gangsters in London, this is effortlessly draws together the two popular spin-off characters of Winston and Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) into a mysterious tale punctuated by the arrival of the eleventh Doctor.

This episode and the following three are narrated by Ian McNeice, who plays the older Churchill. He also effectively voices the various incarnations of the Doctor.

Human Conflict by Iain McLaughlin

Another chance of a weapon to end the war sees Winston Churchill (Ian McNiece) meet a certain Lieutenant Fleming (Gyuri Sarossy). It’s shortly after Churchill has been upgraded to War Prime Minister. A story of war but also of humanity, with a little interaction from the Doctor, it’s mostly problem solving but these have a moral depth which is also reminiscent of Fleming’s James Bond and as Fleming and Churchill race to a rendezvous far north where the war may ultimately be won or lost.

I Was Churchill’s Double by Alan Barnes

Alternative history is like marmite but Churchill gets a plateful when he’s accidentally transposed to an alternative Britain where the Germans have occupied the country. He has to call on every resource and fight them on the land, never surrender until he can get home.

Featuring the historical figure of John Logie Baird (Mark Elstob), this alternative vision is highly entertaining and occasionally quite sobering.

Churchill Victorious by Robert a Khan and Tom Salinsky

The war is over and, on VE Day, Churchill decides to meet the people disguised as William Churchyard. He is feeling without purpose, he’s won the war but he can’t expect gratitude and indeed the people voted him out later that year. Meanwhile, he wants to share the joy of victory.

Unable to resist investigating a series of power cuts, Churchill ventures out meeting an alien, some cockneys and not very bright soldiers. A massive moral dilemma rounds off the narrative and a great speech which is not actually by Winston.

Behind the Scenes

Another excellent addition to the set is this hour about the process. Listening to the thought that goes into the creative approach and how Big Finish think as big as possible. Getting Madame Vastra in to Young Churchill is inspired and her back story grows.

Overall, this volume of stories crisis-crossing the long-lived Churchill offers entertaining narrative and the chance to fact-check the history books. The actors relish the stories and it’s been professionally directed by Ken Bentley. I think there might be more to come.

Sue Davies

June 2018

(pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs 300 minutes 4 stories. Price: CD: £35.00 (UK), Download: £30.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78575-429-6)

cast: Ian McNeice, Neve McIntosh, Iain Batchelor, Melody Grove, Owen Aaronovitch, Leighton Pugh, Gyuri Sarossy, Bethan Walker, James Joyce, Ken Bradshaw, Emily Woodward, Hywel Morgan, Roberta Taylor, Mark Elstob, Nicholas Asbury, Alisdair Simpson, Susan Tracy and Simon Chandler

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