‘The War That Never Was’ (Audio)

‘THE WAR THAT NEVER WAS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Post-World War II in 1953 with Simon, Liz, Charlotte, Neil and Jade

Sarah Sutton would be great playing the Master in ‘Doctor Who’, wouldn’t she? 😀

Having enjoyed ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ in the ‘Timeslip’ audios by Big Finish, I was looking forward to getting into ‘The War That Never Was’ next. From watching the TV series, finding the storytelling and the characters engaging and hearing Sarah Sutton in the audios, they’re a delight! 🙂

I’m intrigued about where the ‘Timeslip’ series will go next after hearing ‘The War That Never Was’. It ends on a cliffhanger and I’m hoping Simon, Liz and everyone else will be able to continue their journey through the ‘time barrier’ should it re-open. I also hope Sarah will return as Charlotte Trent.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. ‘The War That Never Was’ is a six-part audio adventure by Marc Platt on a 3-disc CD set. In ‘Doctor Who’ circles, Marc Platt is well-known for writing the Seventh Doctor story ‘Ghost Light’ on TV. He’s also written a number of ‘Doctor Who’ audios by Big Finish, including ‘Spare Parts’.

Producer David Richardson, Cheryl Burfield, Spencer Banks, script editor John Dorney and writer Marc Platt in ‘The War That Never Was’.

‘The War That Never Was’ takes place directly after the events of ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’. Charlotte and Neil have gone through the ‘time barrier’ first before Simon, Liz and Jade follow after them. Simon, Liz and Jade don’t end up in 1948 as they had anticipated. They end up in the year 1953!

But it’s a very different 1953. For one thing, the UK is still recovering from the Second World War. It also turns out that the war lasted an extra year in this alternative timeline Simon, Liz and Jade have stumbled upon. Not really sure what caused that to happen, but it might be saved for a future story.

As Simon, Liz and Jade roam about this alternative 1953, they find the Americans have stepped in to help the besieged country. They did this by dropping another atom bomb on Berlin. Ooh, nasty! America is now running the ‘grateful’ UK, possibly considering it as one of its states in the huge USA.

It also transpires that the ‘time barrier’ is being studied by a team of scientists who have discovered it. Not sure if that was in 1948, earlier or later. Strange items are also being smuggled from different time periods to the alternative 1953. And it happens to be the responsibility of a pretty familiar face!

Sarah Sutton in ‘The War That Never Was’.

Yes! You guessed it! I certainly guessed it right when listening to ‘Part One’ of the story. It happens to be Sarah Sutton as Charlotte Trent…who’s now married and is called Charlotte Parker-Trent. We don’t get to meet her husband in this story, which is a shame as I would’ve liked that to be explored.

I’m quite saddened that Sarah Sutton’s character of Charlotte Trent ends up being the ‘sort-of’ villain of these ‘Timeslip’ audios, much like how Commander Traynor was often put in a villainous role in the TV series. But it does allow Sarah to deliver an enjoyably entertaining and thrilling performance.

I can’t wait to tell Sarah how much I’ve enjoyed her performances as Charlotte in the ‘Timeslip’ audios. And if there can be a chance of redemption for Traynor’s character at the end of ‘The Day of the Clone’, surely there can be a chance of redemption for Charlotte in the ‘Timeslip’ audio series. 🙂

What I like about Sarah’s performances as Charlotte is that she doesn’t play the character like an over-the-top hammy villain. She does play the character with certain layers of conviction. She believes what she’s doing is right in order to preserve the future of the UK in a very positive manner.

Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The War That Never Was’.

It was interesting to hear Simon and Liz’s reactions to what Charlotte’s done by changing history, as she doesn’t realise the consequences of her actions and they condemn her for it. I don’t know if Charlotte’s version of the future would be better than what we currently live in, but it could be rather dodgy. 😐

For one thing, Charlotte has brought mobile phones back from the future to be in the alternative 1953. Doesn’t sound like a horribly bad thing, I know. But when there’s talk of chemical weapons being brought back from the future and them being misused, there’s a level of big concern involved.

I’m quite saddened that we never got to see what happened to the younger Charlotte and younger Neil in 1948 before they reunited with Simon, Liz and Jade five years later. I know younger Charlotte was a bit of control freak, but she was quite nice compared to her future counterparts in ‘Timeslip’.

It’s also intriguing how Marc Platt introduces the concept of multiple ‘time barriers’ featured in ‘The War That Never Was’. The scientists are also able to track where ‘time barriers’ go to in certain time zones, such as 1936, 1982, 2020 and 2042. It could explain a lot of things for future ‘Timeslip’ stories.

Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The War That Never Was’.

Speaking of which, when looking for behind-the-scenes photos of the ‘Timeslip’ audios, there is a photo of Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield with an Egyptian Sphinx! I don’t know if that was featured in the ‘Timeslip’ comics, but I’m wondering if that’s setting up a future ‘Timeslip’ adventure.

There’s also the sense of the ‘time barrier’ being hot to pass through since it’s become dangerous for Simon and Liz to travel in and they felt the intense heat. It seems to be the result of a fire incident that happened in 1936. Whether we’ll get to explore that in a future ‘Timeslip’ story, I’m not certain.

Going off on a tangent, I’ve picked up certain people have commented that the covers for the ‘Timeslip’ audios by Ryan Aplin aren’t good. I’m sure I recall somebody saying they’re unattractive. Me personally, I love the covers for the two ‘Timeslip’ audios, especially with Sarah Sutton on them.

I had no idea Sarah was going to be in both ‘Timeslip’ audios when I pre-ordered them, so to see her on the cover for ‘The War That Never Was’ was an instant delight. Yes, it does look strange when some characters look like they were the ‘zombie walk’ ( 😀 ), but I didn’t get what they were doing till I saw the TV series.

Director Helen Goldwyn, Spencer Banks and Cheryl Burfield in ‘The War That Never Was’.

Of course it’s to illustrate characters like Simon and Liz touching the ‘time barrier’ itself. I also like the illustrated settings the stories take place in, such as 2042 for ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’ and alternative 1953 for ‘The War That Never Was’. They’re also impressive covers for a modern ‘Timeslip’ series. 😀

Before listening to ‘The War That Never Was’, I was expecting this story to be about Simon, Liz, Charlotte, Neil and Jade being trapped in a world where they couldn’t escape from and they had to find a way how to get out of it. I didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did once hearing this adventure.

Let’s talk about the cast. Spencer Banks is great to listen to as Simon Randall. I like how he gets more focus in this story compared to his appearance in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’. For one thing, we get to learn more about what happened to his family since they might have died in alternative 1953.

Simon does get to use his scientific knowledge to great effect, especially when solving the mysteries of the ‘time barrier’ or ‘barriers’ in alternative 1953. He can be a little reckless, especially when he wants to find out more about what happened to his family as he does take great risks to investigate.

Spencer Banks in ‘The War That Never Was’.

I like the interaction he has with Liz in ‘The War That Never Was’. Compared to ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’, they didn’t have much time to catch up on that. Here, they rekindle their past relationship and how things have changed for them since being kids going through the ‘time barrier’.

Cheryl Burfield is equally great to listen to as Liz Skinner. It was fascinating to hear her interact with Charlotte, who used to be her old friend, but she now considers her an enemy when journeying through the ‘time barrier’ in 1953. It’s so amazing Liz and Charlotte ever became friends at one time.

Liz is unable to forgive Charlotte for what she did or what she could’ve done in that alternative 2042 with the Death Lottery and everything. This is despite Charlotte’s attempts to improve the future. Liz is fascinated by what Charlotte’s done to change the future, including having some futuristic skyscrapers in 1953.

It’s amazing how Liz has changed since she was a young teenager in the TV series. She can be quite emotional, but she doesn’t get teary-eyed like she used to. She’s also wiser, almost matching to the same level as Simon once they discover the horrible things that Charlotte’s done to change history.

Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks in ‘The War That Never Was’.

I know I’ve said a lot about Sarah Sutton’s performance as Charlotte, but she’s definitely a highlight for me in these ‘Timeslip’ audios. It’s quite a contrast to how she did her ‘Star Cops’ episode. Director Helen Goldwyn must’ve been very impressed with Sarah to invite her to star in ‘Timeslip’. 🙂

Some of the things that Charlotte does in ‘The War That Never Was’ are quite shocking. For one thing, the way she manages to lure a tarantula sent to kill her (That reminds me of a ‘Brittas Empire’ episode! 😀 ) and she manages to kill it itself by luring it into a pot of hot tea is disturbing to listen to.

She also attempts to have Professor Felix Loxton trapped in a room whilst a building is on fire, caused by a resistance group. That is pretty shocking! I know Sarah isn’t playing Nyssa in these ‘Timeslip’ audios, but even so it’s shocking that Sarah’s playing a character that can be quite cruel. 😐

Amanda Shodeko as Jade Okafor remains the same age as she was when venturing into the ‘time barrier’ with Simon and Liz to end up in alternative 1953. I’ve picked up Jade is sceptical at times, not realising the implications of time travel and that things can be different compared to what she knows.

Amanda Shodeko, Orlando Gibbs and Matthew Jacobs-Morgan in ‘The War That Never Was’.

Orlando Gibbs as Neil Riley isn’t so lucky as he reunites with Jade five years later after journeying into the ‘time barrier’ with Charlotte first. Neil seems to be bitter when Jade realises it’s him after he spent five years since 1948. I hope there will be a chance Neil can be young again in a future story. 😐

The cast of ‘The War That Never Was’ also includes Clive Hayward as Professor Felix Loxton, a chief scientist studying the ‘time barrier’ in alternative 1953. There’s Andrew James Spooner as Captain Frank Seymour, an American, and Dennis Montague, another scientist who studies the ‘time barrier’.

Matthew Jacobs-Morgan returns as Sam Bembé, the ‘friend’ that Neil and Jade were looking for in ‘The Age of the Death Lottery’. I had hoped Sam would’ve had a larger role compared to the small role he got in this. Matthew Jacobs-Morgan also plays a Jamaican called Reuben Crowther, and scientist Cyril. 🙂

There’s also Anjella Mackintosh (who I’ve heard in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ such as ‘Prisoners of Fate’ and ‘Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories’) playing Gwennie White, Gerry Barton and Peggy. And there’s David Hounslow playing General Gus Guthrie, who’s a gruff American in this. 🙂

Script editor John Dorney in ‘The War That Never Was’.

The structure of the ‘Timeslip’ audios do feel like a huge continuous story, much like how the ‘Timeslip’ TV series did their stories with being interconnected and one whole story. The consistency of the ‘Timeslip’ audios has to be put down to the script editor John Dorney supervising everything.

Like I said, ‘The War That Never Was’ does end on a thrilling cliffhanger. In order to save everything, Simon has to seal the ‘time barrier’ permanently. This means that Simon, Liz, Jade and Neil can’t escape from the alternative 1953 they’re in. They can’t return to their home times of 2020 and 1982.

Though speaking personally, Simon and Liz are better staying put in alternative 1953 rather than returning to 2020. 😀 Charlotte also seems to have run off, flying in a helicopter. I wonder if she’ll come back in the third and fourth ‘Timeslip’ audios. I pray that Big Finish are seriously considering it.

‘The War That Never Was’ has been an enjoyable and thrilling six-part adventure in the ‘Timeslip’ saga. The journeys for the characters like Spencer Banks as Simon and Cheryl Burfield as Liz have been very enjoyable and it’s always such a thrill to hear Sarah Sutton play a different character here.

I hope Big Finish are in the process of making the third and fourth stories of the ‘Timeslip’ audio series. Heck, by the time of this review, they’ll have probably announced it happening. Despite everything that’s gone on in 2020, I’m looking forward to more ‘Timeslip’ audios, having enjoyed them so far. 🙂

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 Marc Platt, producer David Richardson, director Helen Goldwyn, etc.

‘The War That Never Was’ rating – 9/10


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