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Audio Review: Ghost Ship - Ep2.4 of Big Finish's 2nd Classic Audio Series

BLAKE'S 7 - THE CLASSIC AUDIO ADVENTURES - Episode 2.4: Ghost Ship
Review by Jackie Emery

Starring: Paul Darrow, Steven Pacey, Jan Chappell, and Michael Keating, with Tom Chadbon as Del Grant, Alistair Lock as Zen and Orac, and featuring Nick Asbury as Revenant One and Susan Franklyn as Revenant Two.

Written by Iain McLaughlin
Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson
Cover Art by Grant Kempster
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Produced by Cavan Scott for Big Finish Productions


Vila is scared. Of course he is. Vila is always scared...

In keeping with the style of the original Season C, Big Finish's new all cast series is showcasing different characters in their own episodes. But they have also provided this new season-within-a-season with something that the TV series lacked a story arc. Although necessitated by circumstances (the reluctance of Josette Simon to return to Blakes 7), the search for Dayna works well as a thread that binds the new episodes together.

Last month's episode, Mindset, featured Cally; now in Ghost Ship it's Vila who takes centre stage. Information on Dayna has led the crew to Larudon, a planet reported to be haunted, so Vila is much relieved when he is told to stay behind and operate the teleport. But while his crew mates seek their contact in the town, Vila discovers to his horror that he has to confront ghosts alone, on board the ship he had thought was safe.

As Cavan Scott and Justin Richards explain in the extras, this story was a combination of two ideas: one was to have an adventure for the person left behind on teleport duty, the other was to tell a ghost story. Vila was the perfect choice for this, because he is 'always scared' and also because as we saw in City at the Edge of the World - Vila is a great one for talking to himself. As the Liberator becomes a Haunted House, and familiar corridors become unfamiliar and full of hazards in the dark, Michael Keating puts in a brilliant performance, portraying all the different aspects of Vila - by turns perplexed, frightened, resourceful, defiant - and not nearly as stupid or cowardly as some of his crew mates believe him to be.

It's a great script by Iain McLaughlin. I was initially worried that the adventure might turn out to be a dream, but despite Vila indulging in both drink and sleep while on duty, the plot unfolds in a most satisfying way.

Once again, the sound design plays a large part in making this episode so good. The spooky effects, the voices of the Revenants (nicely played by Nick Asbury and Susan Franklyn) and the subtle, unsettling music are all great, but it's the small details that make it feel real Vila's footsteps, the rustling as he gropes his way along dark corridors, the background hum of the Liberator that you're only aware of when it suddenly stops... Ghost Ship is a very effective ghost story, and one I'll be re-listening to on Halloween.

I'm loving this series, and Ghost Ship has now supplanted Mindset as my favourite episode so far. Next up a Tarrant story, featuring Hugh Fraser as the former President of the Federation. As the episodes seem to be getting better and better, I have to confess that I'm not in any hurry for Dayna to be found!

Extras:
Issue 72 of Vortex magazine which includes an interview with Steven Pacey. There are also trailers for Episode 5 and Liberator Chronicles Volume 9, interviews with Michael Keating, Cavan Scott, Lisa Bowerman and Justin Richards and a couple of amusing outtakes.


Ghost Ship is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here:2.4 Ghost Ship.
Details of forthcoming episodes in this series are here:B7 Classic Audio Adventures.
The full range of Big Finish's B7 range is here:B7 from Big Finish.

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