Sunday, August 26, 2012

Big Finish - Luther Arkwright

In 2005 Big Finish produced an adaptation of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, scripted by Mark Wright and directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery.

Luther Arkwright was a comic written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot who I first encountered in a 9 issue series published from 1987 to 1989. I still have them safely bagged and boarded in my comic boxes. My recollection is that I was a bit confused by the parallel world hopping storyline but impressed by Talbot's lovely artwork. I am a big fan of his more recent books like A Tale of One Bad Rat and, in particular, Alice in Sunderland.

This audio drama adaptation was another recent purchase in a Big Finish sale and it has an interesting cast. David Tennant plays Arkwright, and this story was released just one month before he was announced as the tenth Doctor Who. Paul Darrow gives a typically sinister performance as Cromwell, and Siri O'Neal plays Arkwright's fellow agent, Rose.

The plot concerns the attempts of the evil Disruptors to destroy the Multiverse and, in particular, a parallel world where the English civil war has rumbled on for centuries and the Puritan parliament is led by a descendent of Oliver Cromwell. Luther Arkwright has the ability to move between the different worlds and leads the resistance with the help of his telepathic fellow agent, Rose Wylde.

It is a long and complex story spread over three CDs, and it is rather terrific. Perhaps I was not paying close attention in the 1980s but I found that the story made a lot more sense in this adaptation. It certainly has an epic feel and Big Finish deliver a perfect sound-scape with noises of war as well as the interrogation scenes where Arkwright reveals much of the back story. Perhaps it was that device that meant I understood this interpretation so well.

And the cast are all splendid and the two big names deliver. Paul Darrow works best as a villain and David Tennant is as good as ever. He is using his English accent here and it is rather strange to hear him talking to a companion called Rose before he joined Billie Piper in the Tardis.

I found this a very enjoyable break from the main range Doctor Who adventures. A high flying 4.5 out of 5 Union Jacks for Luther Arkwright.

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