Class: The Audio Adventures continues the world of Doctor Who’s teen spin-off, with two further volumes of audio afterlife. Focussed on the exploits of a group of Sixth-Formers at the Coal Hill Academy, plus a couple of alien refugees, the Patrick Ness helmed series created some compelling characters in an all-too-brief run on TV.
While the first and second volumes reunited the whole principal cast on audio, for these episodes there are two roles recast: Joanna McGibbon takes on the role of Tanya, (a pupil) while Dervla Kirwan is the new Miss Quill (a teacher and one of the alien refugees).
A Couples Game
The through-line of the television series generated two romantic parings, first the adorable Charlie (Greg Austin) and Matteusz (Jordan Renzo), then later April (Sophie Hopkins) and Ram (Fady Elsayed). Across Volume 3 those relationships, and others, are considered.
In ‘The Soers’ Ditch’, by Carl Rowens, both couples find themselves running for their lives in a deadly game. Pulling together, it’s April’s courage and Matteusz’s belief that help win the day, and the story serves as a good reintroduction to the characters. We particularly loved the suggestion for how Shoreditch got its name.
‘Catfish’, by Kate Thorman, sees the focus shift onto Tanya as she gets a boyfriend. However, trouble soon brews when it seems he is more popular with her friends than she is. Previously restrained, both by age and her mother’s strict rules, it is fun to hear Tanya’s character further developed.
Volume 3 concludes with ‘Sweet Nothings’ by Michael Dennis, which sees a charming stranger break through Quill’s formidable defences. Meanwhile, tension builds on the home front, with Charlie spending more time in the library than with Matteusz.
Thoughts of Home
Volume 4 consists of two stories linked to the ill-fated planet of Rhodia, sandwiching a creepy Halloween themed tale.
‘Mock’, by Alfie Shaw, sees Quill gifted the chance to be free of her servitude as Rhodian childhood memories resurface. Set against the torturous backdrop of exams, we also see her hilariously posing as every student’s nightmare invigilator.
In what feels like a Halloween special, ‘The Creeper’ has Quill investigating an unusual signal. Taking Matteusz along, this derails another of April’s social events. With the characters in costume, this is a tale we would have loved to have seen visualised. We must also highlight writer Lizzie Hopley in a terrific role as Miss Steel.
Finally, written by the show’s composer Blair Mowat, the meta-tale ‘Queen of Rhodia’ centres on Quill. Waking on her home planet, she finds herself in an alternate history; all the show’s regulars have new roles in a version of Rhodia which never fell to the Shadow Kin (another alien race). As well as offering us fresh takes on now familiar characters, it also provides a conclusion of sorts to the audio series with quite the emotional coda to boot.
First up those recasts — it was remarkably easy to accept both the new actresses in those roles; Joanna McGibbon convinces as Tanya and Dervla Kirwan is incredibly impressive as Quill, dripping with quick wit and sarcasm.
For the most part, these stories sit independently from the series arc and that is their strength — allowing us to spend time with the characters in a monster-of-the-week format which the television show did not really have the time for. Across these six episodes, and indeed the previous two volumes, Producer/Director Scott Handcock has smartly made the most of the cast through different parings. We have particularly enjoyed the time devoted to Matteusz and Charlie’s relationship, as well as the development of Quill’s character.
Rumours abound that these may be the last Class audios and perhaps that is fair enough; restricted to work inside the television series continuity, there are probably only so many stories to be told. Big Finish have already provided four more audio episodes than were onscreen! Now, if they could just nudge past that season finale and show us what happened next… but that is another story. For the moment however, we are grateful for this extension and gladly recommend these episodes as smart, engaging drama, wrapped in top notch sound design and a great score from Blair Mowat.