From the roster of the Torchwood central cast, doubtless many would agree that Ianto Jones had the most to gain from the show’s audio revival. Presented as the ever-reliable background boy, albeit with a tortured past and a cyber-girlfriend stashed in the basement, his opportunities to shine on screen were limited at best.
The audio series’ format of full-cast dramas which spotlight individual cast members has brought Ianto to the fore; first in the intense ‘Fall to Earth’ and again in the terrific ‘Broken‘, which cleverly weaved itself behind the scenes of various early episodes providing some much needed context to his fraught emotional journey and burgeoning relationship with Captain Jack Harkness.
For ‘The Office of Never Was’, producer James Goss returns to scripting duties as Ianto responds to a report of a haunted building. Breaking in to Milne Futures, a deserted office block, we find Ianto on solid ground; he reveals some impressive deductive skills and Gareth David-Lloyd easily carries the drama on his own for the first eight minutes or so – save for the creepy taunting voice repeating his name, of course.
When he is joined by another character, played by Bethan Rose Young, the tension ratchets up admirably; the girl is a vulnerable, ultimately tragic figure but it does not stop her being wonderfully feisty and sharp too.
Making a positive virtue of the limited cast, the story cleverly addresses one of Torchwood’s central conceits, we would suggest it might be the scriptwriter’s well used equivalent of the sonic screwdriver or psychic paper, and provides some hard edged, real world consequences.
Ultimately, although thinks get pretty dark, there is still room for plenty of humour We enjoyed the wry observations of office etiquette, as well as Ianto’s references to ‘The Apprentice’ – plus there was a great Woolworths gag too.
Owing a debt of inspiration to various episodes of ‘The Avengers’, as Goss acknowledges in the CD Extras, this is another smartly directed tale which delivers ample jumps and scares – not least from the rats and the scary child-like lift voices – and another entertaining outing for Cardiff’s much loved coffee boy.