There’s always a certain level of excitement when Big Finish announce that they’re not only using an established writer for a new story but that they’re also penning a sequel to a popular TV story from the classic series. So when The Butcher of Brisbane was announced, a story written by Marc Platt that would serve as a sequel to The Talons of Weng Chiang, people got excited. The only problem with excitement is that in can lead to over expectations which can leave to disappointment.
But let’s be honest, Marc Platt was never going to let us down and The Butcher of Brisbane is a very fine adventure indeed,
The Fifth Doctor and his intrepid friends Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough find themselves split up across not only space but time as the TARDIS falls right into a mysterious accident. As the Doctor tries to calm Tegan down when she sees what happened to her homeland in the future, Turlough and Nyssa experience some very odd and very gruesome events in the form of bodies falling from the sky. When Magnus Greel rears his rather handsome face into events, things take a turn for the even more unexpected.
When listening to this, the first thing that springs to mind is that Marc Platt had no intention of making this story a slutty sequel/prequel. The freshness of the characters and the inventive use of Magnus Greel before he succumb to the Zigma experiments rewards the listener as the four parter unfolds. Each member of the TARDIS crew get a well-paced and enjoyable story, Magnus Greel is not used as necessarily the main villain of the piece but rather a man who is descending into a black hole of madness and paranoia brought on by greed and loss. Rupert Frazer, who portrays the cold and ruthless Findecker, is the true central villain of the piece. As morally corrupt and he is foul-natured, this is a brilliant creation from Platt and one that would have been a pleasure to see on screen.
But where The Butcher of Brisbane has its many grotesque moments (listen out for a one where Mr Sin is seen near some pigs) it also has some truly touching and heart-breaking moments as well. The results of Findecker’s experiments and how they affect those who survive them is something that sticks in the mind long after the play has finished.
To top all of this off, we have the strongest performance from Peter Davison and his fellow regulars since they all returned to work together in 2010 and an off screen cameo from a familiar face that shouldn’t be as such a big deal but warms the cockles none the less. This is Big Finish, Marc Platt and the Davison era crew at the top of their games and showing that they can still strut their stuff with style and panache.
The Butcher of Brisbane is available from www.bigfinish.com now.