A huge two years since we first heard Ian McNeice reprise Sir Winston Churchill for Big Finish, we get The Churchill Years Volume 2. Again, it’s four stories scattered across Winston’s life in four full-cast adventures.
The first story, the Paul Morris tale Young Winston could be seen as a template for any number of future stories. Set back in the early part of Winston’s long career, it not only introduces another actor in the role (Iain Batchelor as young Winston), but also a second narrator, with Neve McIntsoh making her Big Finish Madame Vastra debut also taking over narrative duty. It’s also a great story with Cuban mercenaries and alien tech. All that and the eleventh Doctor too.
It’s a switch forward to the Second World War for the Iain McLaughlin story Human Conflict. The Blitz is raging but the Nazis have their eyes firmly set on more devastating weapons. The action takes Winston back to the setting of the earlier part of his political career, and also gives him plenty to do in a story balancing doing what’s right from the Doctor’s perspective and also from the point of view of the leader of a country at war.
Alan Barnes is third up with I Was Churchill’s Double, a reference (perhaps) to the memoirs of Walter H Thompson in the book I Was Churchill’s Shadow. Churchill used several doubles for radio and public appearance, but this story is more curious. It interlinks the television broadcast capabilities of Alexander Palace with parallel worlds. Of course in the world in question, Nazis are winning the war, and before this can be explored too far the story is over, but not before Winston finds plenty to whet the appetite and test his curiosity.
Last up is Robert Khan & Tom Salinsky’s Churchill Victorious. Just what does a leader do when the war is won and the nation is celebrating? Why take to the streets, find an alien threat, save the Doctor and face his greatest danger! It’s a little bit stage farce at times as Winston dons a bad disguise and mingles with ordinary people, but it’s also great fun and Ian McNeice seems to have relished the dialogue and the whole piece sparkles.
Directed with style by Ken Bentley, populated by a great cast (including several Big Finish regulars such as Mark Elstob (John Logie Baird) and James Joyce, it’s a great set and the next much surely be announced soon.