Audio review: The SofT Annual 2019

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Released just before Christmas, The SofT Annual 2019 is the first release from Sounds of Thunder, a new company with a veritable host of Doctor Who connections who have plans to publish a range of science fiction, horror and comedy audios.

This release is made up of a series of short tales, mostly festively themed, to showcase their plans. Principally starring Toby Hadoke – stand-up comedian, actor, Doctor Who DVD commentary moderator and presenter of the Who’s Round podcast, the other performers include Simon Messingham and Alastair Lock (the voice of Orac and Zen on Big Finish’s Blake’s 7 audio series), as well as Helen Stirling-Lane, Miranda Heath, Holly Hinton, Siobhan Gallichan and Christopher Walker-Thomson (famed in fan circles for his uncanny impersonation of the Second Doctor). The writing roster features some familiar names from DW extended media too, including Kate Orman and John Peel, with many of the team also involved in production roles too.

The Annual begins with Boxing Day, by SA Brett, which finds Nathan (Toby Hadoke) on the hunt for a challenging present for his obnoxious pal Jeremy, with his disapproving wife Louisa in tow. Before long, we are at festive drinks with Jeremy and his girlfriend Shona, and a quirky little ghost story develops.

Skirmish, by John Peel, brings us a man who believes he is Father Christmas coming in for an appointment with a psychiatrist. Is he mad? What follows is an interesting battle between logic and fantasy with Siobhan Gallichan entertainingly playing the big fella in red.

Two stories featuring Dr Sinister (Alastair Lock, by way of Kenneth Williams), Christmas On Sinister Isle and The Wachoo… of DEATH, introduce us to the inept global dictator in waiting, who not only controls his own secret island, but has designs on domination – if only his plans could be implemented successfully.

Kate Orman’s One For No brings us a tricksy tale as jittery ambulance operator gets a series of crank calls, as well as a persistent caller who refuses to speak, while Cocktails For Two, by Paul Ferry, offers a tale of escalating weaponised drinks between a member of the gentry and a self-made man, with each drink becoming more deadly.

The annual concludes with The Haunting, written by Karen Dunn, a creepy prelude to Sounds of Thunder’s upcoming series The Buccaneer Chronicles, which finds three travellers – the pompous Macfadyen, robotic floating head C’reat and Victorian Lilly – investigating a peculiar ghostly mystery.

While some stories hit better than others, the tone varying from the daft to the downright disturbing, this is a promising debut release. It was a great idea to ape the format of an annual and we particularly enjoyed the standalone pieces like Boxing Day and The Skirmish, though the short play format means there should be something here for everyone to enjoy, in over two hours of content.

With Sounds of Thunder’s future plans including an adaptation of the HP Lovecraft short story The Thing On The Doorstep, starring Katy Manning (Doctor Who‘s Jo Grant), they are clearly one to watch.

The SofT Annual 2019 is available on CD (with free download) for £15 or on Download for £11.