‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ (Audio)

‘THE AGE OF THE DEATH LOTTERY’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Death Lottery with Simon, Liz, Charlotte, Neil and Jade

You know Sarah Sutton is already going to be a highlight for me in any Big Finish audio she does! 😀

After checking out the ‘Timeslip’ TV series on DVD, I was looking forward to getting into the Big Finish audios of ‘Timeslip’ next. I enjoyed the 26-episode TV series of ‘Timeslip’ starring Spencer Banks as Simon and Cheryl Burfield as Liz very much. The four stories were compelling and engaging!

One of the reasons why I wanted to watch the ‘Timeslip’ TV series first before hearing the audios was so I can get into the characters as well as the sci-fi atmosphere the show was trying to go for. ‘Timeslip’ may be a short-lived series, but like ‘Star Cops’, I was intrigued what the show was about!

This would help me to appreciate the Big Finish audios more. A big reason why I wanted to hear the ‘Timeslip’ audios was of course getting to hear Sarah Sutton in something different for a change. Sarah, for many ‘Doctor Who’ fans, is known for playing Nyssa, Peter Davison’s Doctor’s companion.

Amanda Shodeko, Sarah Sutton, Orlando Gibbs, Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

Sarah is also someone I’ve met at conventions a lot over the years and I consider her a great friend. So, the chance to hear Sarah in another audio production by Big Finish was irresistible. And this wasn’t just one episode or one production of something like it’d been with her ‘Star Cops’ episode. 🙂

Nor with her ‘Dark Shadows’ episode ‘The Devil Cat’! This time, Sarah would appear in two six-part stories of the ‘Timeslip’ series and become a major part of them. I was pretty eager and excited for this, looking forward to finding out how Sarah would play her new character in the ‘Timeslip’ audios.

Going back to Simon and Liz! It’s interesting to hear these audios depicting them as they would be now, decades after the events of the TV series. I know comics have been made featuring Simon and Liz, but this is the first time Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield have returned to play their characters.

There is the ‘Beyond the Barrier’ fan film of course, featured on Disc 4 of the ‘Timeslip’ DVD box set, but that could almost be considered a fleeting return compared to their Big Finish renaissance. I’m not even sure ‘Beyond the Barrier’ is complete considering it contained only ‘Part One’ of the tale. 😐

Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

The first story of the ‘Timeslip’ audios by Big Finish is…‘The Age of the Death Lottery’, a six-part adventure by Andrew Smith. Andrew is well-known in ‘Doctor Who’ circles for writing the TV story ‘Full Circle’. Andrew has also written plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Cops’ audios over the years. 🙂

Helen Goldwyn is the director of the ‘Timeslip’ audios including ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ and ‘The War That Never Was’. I’m very pleased Helen Goldwyn directed these Big Finish audios of ‘Timeslip’, especially since she cast Sarah Sutton to play the character of Charlotte Trent specifically.

Incidentally, the ‘Timeslip’ audios are presented as 3-disc CD sets. Considering they’re six-part adventures, Disc 1 contains the first two episodes; Disc 2 contains the second two episodes and Disc 3 contains the third two episodes. This I’m fine with and it’s nice to have the audios as 3-disc CD sets.

By the way, there aren’t any commercial breaks featured in each of the six episodes of the audio stories like there were in the TV episodes. So, no ‘End of Part One’ and beginning of ‘Part Two’ in each episode! I was extremely pleased to hear the ‘Rite de la Terre’ theme music from the TV series.

This production is respectfully dedicated to Dan Hennessy, who passed away on 1 January 2020.

In tribute, this ‘Timeslip’ audio is respectfully dedicated to Dan Hennessy, who passed away on the 1st of January 2020. Dan Hennessy provided the recording at the Soundhouse in London where most of the Big Finish audios are made. It’s so sad to hear that someone had died at the start of what is arguably a bad year.

For Simon and Liz, the ‘Timeslip’ audios take place in the year 2020, fifty years after the TV show ended. Err, I hope it was in January and February that the audios are set in. Considering what happened later on in the year with the coronavirus pandemic. 😐 As Doc Emmett Brown would say

Anyway, the mysterious ‘time barrier’ seems to have re-opened again as two teenagers slip through into 2020. Well, I say ‘teenagers’ whereas actually they’re youths. They’re much older than Liz and Simon were when they went through the ‘time barrier’ as kids in the 1970s. They’re Neil and Jade. 🙂

Neil and Jade come from 1982. 2020 isn’t their first port of call through the ‘time barrier’. They were also in 1948 with another friend of theirs, Sam. However that 1948 is different compared to the one we know as the Second World War is still going on there. But that’s for another time in another tale.

Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

The two youths find themselves in 2020 before Simon and Liz eventually meet up with them, after being alerted to the ‘time barrier’ being reopened again. The ‘time barrier’ also seems to be at Crystal Palace in London than at the old naval base in St. Oswald in the TV series, which is intriguing.

Soon, Simon and Liz find themselves journeying into the future, along with Neil and Jade, and they end up in the year 2042. Things are grim however in 2042 as over-population has brought the Earth down to its knees and a mass culling for parts of the population called the Death Lottery takes place.

The Death Lottery seems to be the responsibility of Liz’s old friend – Charlotte Trent – played by Sarah Sutton herself. But there might be a chance the future of 2042 with the Death Lottery may never happen as a younger Charlotte gets to see for herself what her older, corrupt self has become.

One of the appeals featured in the ‘Timeslip’ TV series was it addressing topical issues regarding society, its socio-political climate and the environment. This included elements involving cloning; the dependency on technology; the possibility of the Earth burning up; etc. All pretty fascinating insights.

Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

Thus, the Big Finish audios take a stab at current issues involving the world too. In ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’, the story looks into the issue of over-population. I like how Andrew Smith tackles this topic involving over-population. In many ways, he has Charlotte Trent as a focal point during the story.

Now it’s very easy to argue that Charlotte becomes a villain by 2042 whereas her younger self is disbelieving of the future and the fact that she could end up putting the Death Lottery forward. But in some respects, you can see from Charlotte’s point of view why she believes in the things she does.

She’s concerned about how over-population can be a major issue and tries to find ways to reduce the problem. It’s disturbing how she ends up being corrupt and weary-driven in the future, but it was fascinating to hear Sarah’s comments about it as she was being interviewed on the CD extras. 🙂

Let’s talk about the actors and the characters they play. Spencer Banks is back as Simon Randall. Simon is now working for the Department of Forward Development (I believe it’s called) within the UK government. It’s something Liz is not happy about and it’s why she’s distant of him at the start. 😐

Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

Simon hasn’t lost that intellectual spark since being a kid in the TV series. I enjoyed how he interacted with characters like Neil and Jade, especially when venturing into the ‘time barrier’ and ending up in 2042. Simon has a cool head, even if that might get him into trouble with futuristic law enforcement.

I wish though there was more interaction between Simon and Liz in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’. Maybe it’ll get made up in ‘The War That Never Was’, but a lot of focus was put on characters like Neil, Jade and Charlotte. Not I mind that, but it reduces the amount of Simon and Liz share together.

This is considering Simon and Liz haven’t seen each other for a while since the end of the TV series and they were the focus in that show. Speaking of which, it was nice to hear Cheryl Burfield back as Liz Skinner. At this point in time in 2020, Liz has become a philosophy lecturer. Good going for her! 🙂

My favourite scenes with Liz are when she’s interacting with her best friend Charlotte. They both work together at the same university, I believe. I liked it when Liz interacts with Charlotte as her younger self from 2020 as well as when she’s shocked and horrified to meet an older 2042 Charlotte.

Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

I also enjoyed it when Liz interacted with Neil and Jade, emphasising what they’re going through with being ‘out of time’ and having entered the ‘time barrier’ from 1982. Liz seems to know when Neil has his feelings for Jade when they’re having their coffees somewhere at a coffee shop in 2042.

The scene in ‘Part Six’ where Liz fights younger Charlotte and snatches her recorder from her took me by surprise. And of course, the highlight of these ‘Timeslip’ audios was hearing Sarah Sutton as Charlotte Trent – both of them. Sarah is so amazing in the ‘Timeslip’ audios and I love hearing her. 😀

Even though she’s not playing Nyssa in ‘Timeslip’, I can’t help but feel concerned and excited when Sarah’s playing Charlotte. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Charlotte and whether she would stop her future self becoming a reality. I liked the younger Charlotte more than the older one.

Sarah gets given a chance to play two versions of her character which must’ve been great fun for her. In some ways, Charlotte is almost a Commander Traynor-type character from the TV series in the audios. It was interesting to hear Sarah compare Charlotte to Nyssa in the CD extras on Disc 3. 🙂

Sarah Sutton in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

By the way, Sarah seems to have psychic links to the past and future, just like Liz’s mum did in the TV series. That’s pretty peculiar. Anyway, Orlando Gibbs stars as Neil Riley and Amanda Shodeko stars as Jade Okafor. These two are the young leads in the ‘Timeslip’ audios compared to Simon and Liz. 😐

Neil’s a nice enough lad. He might be geeky being from 1982, but he’s got a honest disposition and cool head. He’s clearly very fond of Jade, but doesn’t share his feelings to her until the very end when they seem to be executed according to the Death Lottery. He and Simon has some nice scenes.

Jade is pretty nice girl who considers Neil as her friend. Whether she considers him as something more, well…that’s another matter. I like how Jade interacts with Liz when they go through the ‘time barrier’ and end up in 2042. I also like how Jade interacts with Maxine Shetty in certain scenes here.

The cast of ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ also includes Narinder Samra as Ajay Shetty, a man who looks out for rebels against the Death Lottery system in 2042. There’s also Lucy Pickles as Maxine Shetty, Ajay’s wife, who works in the Enforcement Bureau to try and bring the Death Lottery down.

Writer Andrew Smith, Claire Vousden, Spencer Banks, Orlando Gibbs, Cheryl Burfield, Amanda Shodeko, Sarah Sutton and director Helen Goldwyn in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’.

There’s also Claire Vousden as the Minster in 2020. Yeah, she doesn’t have a name in the story. She’s just called Minister. I wonder if that’s an in-joke to ‘Yes Minister’ on Andrew Smith’s part. 😀 There’s Matthew Jacobs-Morgan as Sam Bembe, Neil and Jade’s friend who is still lost in the alternate 1948.

I wish more time had been devoted to the story’s ending, especially with what happened when older Charlotte had been exposed by Liz sharing the recording of her conversation with her about ‘rigging the Death Lottery’ itself. I would like it confirmed that the older corrupt Charlotte never did happen.

The story ends on a cliff-hanger with younger Charlotte and Neil going through the ‘time barrier’. Simon, Liz and Jade follow suit, I believe. They’re bound to end up in the alternate 1948 where Sam is. The ‘time barrier’ seems to be ‘burning up’ however. What’s going to happen in the next story? 😐

‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ has been a tense and enjoyable ride. I’ve enjoyed listening to Sarah Sutton playing Charlotte Trent in the first ‘Timeslip’ audio and it was nice to hear Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield back together as Simon and Liz, joined by other characters in the ‘Timeslip’ line-up. 🙂

I’d like to think that this is the start of something great, especially for Sarah, who’s my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ actress as well as Spencer and Cheryl playing Simon and Liz in a new version of ‘Timeslip’ that’s still a continuation. I hope more stories will be made after I’ve finished the first two.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Discs 1, 2 and 3, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Spencer Banks, Cheryl Burfield, Sarah Sutton, Orlando Gibbs, Amanda Shodeko, writer Andrew Smith, script editor John Dorney, producer David Richardson, director Helen Goldwyn, etc. Also at the end of Disc 3, there’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The War That Never Was’ starring Spencer Banks, Cheryl Burfield and Sarah Sutton.

‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ rating – 9/10


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