A gritty tale that should sound a warning to us all, like the best dystopian fiction around.
Apart from the many Doctor Who releases that Big Finish give us every month (both of the series itself and the many spinoffs), the hard-working production team also manage to try their hand at other properties related to British Television. Recent successful adaptations have included such properties as Blake’s 7, Space: 1999, Star Cops, The Prisoner and the recently released Adam Adamant Lives! sets.
Timeslip was an ITV property that ran for 26 episodes between 1970 and 1971. Ostensibly a children’s program, it dealt with dark themes and dystopian imagery and involved a young boy and girl who accidentally travel through a bubble in time and see either the past or the future. Like many of the properties that Big Finish adapt, it has developed somewhat of a cult following in subsequent decades and now, 50 years on from the original transmission, it is brought back vividly to life by an exceptional script matched with an equally impressive cast and crew.
This six-part story, written by Andrew Smith, is a powerful script that deals with the (very real) issue of over-population and how to deal with it. Now adults, Simon Randall and Liz Skinner are thrust into a dark future 22 years from now where the population is controlled by a death lottery. Two teenagers from the 80s, Neil and Jade, also come along, having first discovered the newly reopened time hole. To make matters worse, Liz’s friend, Charlotte, appears to be the key architect behind it all.
This is a punchy and fast-paced script that never lets up and, for people unacquainted with the original series, there is no disadvantage in the lack of knowledge of the original show. It is a script that does not deal with fantasy elements that can easily be dismissed but, rather like all good dystopian fiction, paints a bleak picture of our future that could genuinely happen if we are not careful.
Original stars Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield reprise their original roles which they played as children and bring much to this remarkable story. Sarah Sutton clearly enjoys one of her rare non-Nyssa outings and does a brilliant job of both the younger and older Charlotte (the scenes where the two meet are particularly chilling). Orlando Gibbs (Neil Riley), Matthew Jacobs-Morgan (Sam Bembe), Lucy Pickles (Maxine Shetty/EB Operative), Narinder Samra (Ajay Shetty/Processing Officer), Amanda Shodeko (Jade Okafor), and Claire Vousden (The Minister/Data Superintendent) round out the superlative cast who all imbue their characters with much depth.
Helen Goldwyn is to be commended for her outstanding direction of the story and Jamie Robertson’s sound and music design is of the absolute highest quality.
There are substantial bonus interviews to round out the set plus a sneak peek of the second volume which is released next month.
This is a genuinely exciting release for Big Finish and one of those special releases that deserves multiple listens.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: May 2020
Approx RRP: $38 CD, $17 Digital Download