Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: The Lone Centurion, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: Travelling to Rome in search of the Pandorica, Rory finds himself forced to perform as a gladiator in the Colosseum… where he attracts the attention of the Imperial household.

A fun romp through ancient Rome with Rory Williams in his first appearance for Big Finish.

Rory Williams is entrusted with the Pandorica which contains his wife, Amy. He will be with it for 2,000 years, thanks to him being an Auton, guarding and protecting it from all foes. It is the stuff of legends. Well, until it appears he has lost it and now desperately needs to find it again … 

Arthur Darvill is the latest in the long list of Doctor Who companions to make the trip from the small screen to the studios of Big Finish. His story arc through the era of the Eleventh Doctor is one of the most entertaining in the long history of the series. Darvill portrays the gormless Rory with such humanity that he is almost impossible to dislike. This new spinoff series from Big Finish will do little to dampen the enthusiasm of the fans for his character.

David Llewlyn’s episode I, Gladiator opens the set and sees our hero search for the Pandorica in Rome where, through a series of comical events, he finds himself as Caesar’s bodyguard. The conclusion to this particular story is quite amusing, as is the whole episode which plays the Roman empire as a bit of a joke (and not for the first time in Doctor Who history either!). Caesar is played very much as a clueless egomaniac while the women around him scheme and meddle their way to the top.

Joanna van Kampen and Joseph Tweedale are absolutely wonderful as Augusta and Caesar respectively. Inès de Clercq’s Marcella is another exceptional cast member here. The pacing is great and Darvill has great fun as the fish out of water Rory who is not quite sure what he is doing but is happy to be getting by.

The Unwilling Assassin by Sarah Ward is another fun escapade, this time with Rory becoming the Empress of Rome’s new assassin. The trouble is that Rory doesn’t really want to kill anybody. Now he has to convince the chief spy Decima (played adorably by Robyn Holdaway) that he is as mean as he says he is—even though he is not. This is one of the cleverer scripts to come out of Big Finish and the breadcrumbs leading to the climax are well-paced and rewarding for the keen listener. The ending is also surprisingly satisfying.

I, Roricus by Jacqueline Raynor rounds out the set nicely. It’s not as humorous in tone but nonetheless enjoyable. This brings out Rory’s love for Amy more so than in previous episodes. There are still lashings of humour but this episode is well-paced between the drama and the comedy. The cast here is highlighted by the excellent performances of Mina Anwar (Juliana) and Max Hutchinson (Marinus).

The entire set is well-directed by Scott Handcock who is no slouch when it comes to the bigger box sets. He always has a keen ear for the feel of a piece and never lets the action get too dull. Rob Harvey does an outstanding job with the music and sound design as well. There is a hefty amount of interviews to fill out the set if you are interested in hearing the stories of the cast and crew and, as usual, they provide much insight into the creation of the series.

With the second series already announced for next year, this will undoubtedly be a series worth returning to. Fans of Arthur Darvill’s portrayal of Rory from the TV show will not be disappointed here. This a fun, engaging romp that will entertain the masses like a gladiator fight at the Colosseum.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: April 2021
Approx RRP: $36 CD, $17 Digital Download

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