‘THE BUTCHER OF BRISBANE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Magnus Greel with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough
The 51st century is where Captain Jack Harkness comes from!
It is also where Magnus Greel comes from. Here in this story, we find out who the infamous Minister of Justice is; why he became the human monster he was and how he got nicknamed as ‘the Butcher of Brisbane’. For all of you who are fans of ‘The Talons of Weng-Chaing’, this story should be a treat!
‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ is an amazingly, fantastic ‘Doctor Who’ story by Marc Platt and is a brilliant sequel to ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’. The Fifth Doctor team with Tegan, Turlough and the older Nyssa appear in this tale and it stars Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Sarah Sutton.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ at the NEC Birmingham, November 2017. I had a great time chatting to Peter and Sarah about this story. Sarah even showed Janet Fielding her photo in the sleeve notes.
‘The Talons of Weng-Chaing’ is one of the best and popular stories of the Tom Baker era of ‘Doctor Who’. This sequel is unique as it isn’t set in Victorian times and is a prequel for Magnus Greel. It takes place before he makes that fatal journey to Victorian London where he becomes Weng-Chiang.
When a trip to Tegan’s hometown of Brisbane goes wrong, Nyssa and Turlough are ‘snatched’ and end up in the snowy landscapes of the Brisbane Dead Zone of the 51st century. Nyssa and Turlough are soon recruited to expose Magnus Greel as a criminal whilst Tegan and the Doctor search for them.
I must admit, I had to re-watch ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ on DVD to refresh my memory of who Magnus Greel was. After seeing it again, I got a better understanding of Greel. Also ‘his’ time cabinet from ‘Talons’ features in this story as well that horrible and murderous Chinese puppet called Mr. Sin.
Marc Platt wrote for this Fifth Doctor team before in ‘The Cradle of the Snake’. Marc has done a sterling job in writing this story about Magnus Greel. He’s also managed to flesh out the references to 51st century Earth from ‘Talons’ including Findecker; the Icelandic Alliance; Peking; Reykjavik; etc.
Angus Wright guest stars as the villainous Magnus Greel. Angus appeared as Mr. Dredd in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story called ‘The Vault of Secrets’. Here Angus delivers a fantastic performance as Greel, as he has such a rich voice and balances the charm and unstableness of Greel amazingly well.
The performance Angus gives as Greel is very different to how Michael Spice portrayed him in the TV story. I felt in ‘Talons’ that Spice’s performance as Greel was two-dimensional. Here in this audio, Angus is able to flesh out Greel’s persona and character, which was very refreshing and interesting.
This isn’t the deformed Greel that was seen in ‘Talons’. Here, Greel is a younger and handsome man who is an influential figure in a position of power. It was interesting exploring Greel’s history and it made me wonder why he did ghastly things in connection with those murders and time experiments.
I was surprised and shocked when I discovered that Nyssa got herself engaged to Magnus Greel in this story. I couldn’t believe it! I was like “Nyssa?! Are you out of your mind?!” I chatted to Sarah Sutton about Nyssa engaged to Greel in ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ at the ‘Collectormania Glasgow’ convention in August 2012. Sarah said to me that it was all very confusing. I agreed with her.
But it turns out it’s part of an undercover mission that Nyssa is on with Turlough, as they’re recruited to expose Greel as a criminal. I was relieved that Nyssa wouldn’t fall for a madman. It got me anxious with Nyssa being in a dangerous situation and I wondered how she’d cope being engaged to Greel.
Sarah Sutton gives a lovely performance as Nyssa. This turned out to be an interesting story for her, since she gets to be very brave with getting close to Greel in a romantic way. I suppose it’s unsurprising Greel would fall for Nyssa and some of the scenes they have together were interesting.
I found it touching that Nyssa, despite seeing Greel as a monster, still cared for him in the time she gets to know him. Nyssa is a warm-hearted person and is determined to see the goodness in Greel. It was interesting Nyssa ends up engaged to him, as she’s already married and has children of her own.
Mark Strickson is very good as Turlough, who works with Nyssa on this undercover mission. Turlough acts as Nyssa’s secretary when she’s engaged to Greel. This brings out Turlough’s formal side, as he sells information to his contacts from Nyssa to expose Greel. He gets nervous when Greel is around.
It was interesting that Nyssa and Turlough spent three years (?!) of their lives working undercover, as I wonder what they’ve been doing in all that time. The first scene Nyssa and Turlough have in the snowy landscapes of Brisbane is so disturbing and Sarah describes it (in the CD extras) as very visual.
Janet Fielding is equally good as Tegan. I expected this story to be about Tegan, as it was set in her hometown. She’s clearly upset when she finds her home caked in corpses. Tegan gets her chance to unleash her anger on Greel and it gets tense when she’s put in a distillation chamber by Findecker.
Peter Davison is also very good as the Doctor, who clearly knows what’s going on with Greel and the 51st century. He knows where Greel is going to end up and has to see him make his escape and prevent him from being killed. Will the Doctor be able to prevent the start of World War VI by Greel?
Rupert Frazer guest stars as Dr. Sa Yy Findecker. Findecker was referenced in ‘Talons’ by the Fourth Doctor for creating the double nexus particle. Findecker is a monster as well as Greel. He’s an alien scientist working for Greel as he conducts dangerous time experiments and creates deadly mutations.
The guest cast also includes Felicity Duncan as Commissioner Ingrid Bjarnsdottir; Daniel Weyman as reporter Ragan Crezzen; Daisy Ashford (the daughter of Caroline John and Geoffrey Beevers) as reporter Sasha Dialfa; and John Banks as Eugene Duplessis and the dingo-like Chops.
Mr. Sin also appears in this story (voiced by Alex Mallinson). Mr. Sin sounds just as playful and malicious as he was in ‘Talons’. He was given as a gift by Greel to Commissioner Bjarnsdottir for her two children. Mr Sin soon goes out of control and kills both her children as well as Bjarnsdottir later on.
The story ends with Greel on the rooftop, accompanied by Mr. Sin, and Nyssa chasing after him. Soon Findecker arrives in his ‘time cabinet’. Greel steals the time cabinet from Findecker when Mr. Sin kills him. The Doctor watches Greel make his escape into the cabinet, knowing he’s on his way to Victorian London.
‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ has been a great ‘Doctor Who’ story to listen to by Marc Platt. It was pretty gripping when Nyssa gets engaged to Magnus Greel in an undercover mission and I’ve found it interesting how Greel makes his journey on the road to ‘Talons’. It’s an adventure one cannot miss!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘Protect and Survive’ with Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Angus Wright. There’s also an intriguing deleted scene to listen to.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras of ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘Intuition’ with the Sixth Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
Regarding the older Nyssa stories so far, I was dismayed at first. Even Sarah had a time trying to get her head around the older Nyssa story arc. But I’ve enjoyed them, finding them interesting and I liked the ‘Circular Time: Winter’ connections. In 2012, Sarah and I wondered whether the older Nyssa stories would end.
‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ rating – 9/10
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I love this story, it is a excellent prequel to Talons & i have to give Marc Platt major credit because he hasn’t gone for a easy phoned in script but instead created a character driven story with heart & emotion.
Sarah Sutton is marvellous in this & i like how her character is caring about Greel despite him being a sadistic dictator & shows a little bit of vulnerability here.
When i heard Mr Sin appear i thought “oh this will just be a small cameo” until i heard he’d murdered children then i was like ‘OMG’ that was a shocking act of cruelty that shows Mr Sin to be evil & then he murders Bjarnsdottir.
Loved the conclusion & how it neatly fits into Talons, overall one of my favourite stories.
What a fantastic written review Tim, the depth of this review & the content is to be commended my friend, i thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this story & you summed it up perfectly.
Easily gets a 9/10
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Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’. I was pretty impressed by ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ when I listened to it and wanted to know what would happen as the story progressed with the characters, tension and drama throughout.
I love Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa in this story. I was shocked how she ended up being engaged to Magnus Greel in this story, but enjoyed how she interacts with him and sees the good side of him as well as the bad.
I would like to write a sequel to ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ where Nyssa meets Greel again with Billy called ‘The Talons of Magnus Greel’. That’s something for consideration in the future with my stories! 😀
Those scenes when it turns out Mr. Sin killed two children was pretty shocking to listen to. One wonders who would create such a malicious cyborg monster like that anyway. But then again Sin was created by maniacs and murderers anyway, so there you go!
I’m very pleased with how this story was built as a prequel into ‘Talons’ and like the lead in from the story into that. I certainly enjoyed how Marc Platt adds in 51st century references from ‘Talons’ into that story to make it interesting, after having watched ‘Talons’ a number of times nowadays.
Very pleased my review on this story has pleased you no end! Glad you enjoyed my thoughts on this story. Hope you enjoy more thoughts by me on the rest of ‘The Nyssa Challenge’ series.
Thanks again Simon!