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Audio Review: Cold Fury – Ep 1.5 of Big Finish's Classic Audio Series

BLAKE'S 7 - THE CLASSIC AUDIO ADVENTURES - Episode 1.5: Cold Fury

Review by Jackie Emery

Starring: 
Gareth Thomas (Blake), Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Brian Croucher (Travis) and Alistair Lock (Zen and Orac)
with Caroline Langrishe as Dr Tirus and Hugh Fraser as The President

Written by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott
Sound Design and Music by Alistair Lock 
Cover Art by Damien May
Directed by Ken Bentley
Produced by David Richardson for Big Finish Productions


Cold Fury is the penultimate episode in Big Finish's full cast Series-Within-Season B. I will avoid revealing spoilers for this particular story, but there will inevitably be some if you have not yet heard the previous ones in this series. So those of you who have not yet listened to Episodes 1-4 are highly recommended to so before reading on!

Like the episode that precedes it, Cold Fury has no pre-title sequence, and after the theme tune it plunges straight into the action, picking up where Mirror left off. The Liberator crew are searching for Vila, and the trail leads to the ice planet Horst Minor. There, both out on the surface and inside a top secret research facility, they discover considerably more than just their missing crew mate...

This is a very good ensemble piece for the whole cast, with everyone getting a decent share of the action. I was very pleased that this time it's Jenna and Cally who accompany Blake down to the planet, leaving Avon on board the Liberator engaged in verbal wrangling with Orac. Vila and Travis have some great scenes together, with Travis reminding him – as if Vila needs reminding – of what happened on Exbar. Cally's telepathy is put to good use, as is the theme of Auron cloning; two aspects of her character that tended to be neglected in the later part of the televised Season B.

We also meet a new character, Dr Tirus, and two returning ones, Nyrron and the President of the Terran Federation. Nyrron, the Auron scientist played by Anthony Howell, was introduced in the Liberator Chronicles stories Solitary and Wolf. Although it's helpful to have heard these, previous knowledge of the character is not essential in order to appreciate his return appearance here. Caroline Langrishe does a fine job playing Dr Tirus, a scientist with conflicting loyalties.

The President was briefly introduced in the previous episode, Mirror. Now we get to hear more from the man who leads the Terran Federation, and a picture emerges of a complex character, powerful yet paranoid. Played with sinister, silky charm by Hugh Fraser, the President is very different from the two representatives of the Federation we already know so well, Servalan and Travis. Hugh Fraser is wonderful in the role, and I can easily visualise the actor as the character. This is not always the case with audio drama; as a fan of The Archers, I tend to avoid pictures of those actors, who invariably look nothing like the way I picture their characters. But elegant, aristocratic-looking Hugh Fraser, with the voice to match, is a marvellous stroke of casting by Big Finish.

Production values continue to be high. Alistair Lock has created atmospheres that so convincingly convey the sub-zero conditions of the ice planet, that I was glad it was a warm sunny day when I listened to it. Meanwhile, the familiar sounds of the Liberator; the chime of teleport bracelets, the shimmer of the teleport and Orac's purring hum bring with them the comforting feeling of home, so accurately are they reproduced.

In Cold Fury, writers Mark Wright and Cavan Scott have provided a satisfying balance of dialogue and action, exploring the dynamics of characters old and new, while ramping up the peril to the point where the story culminates in yet another cliffhanger. The acting, directing and sound design are all first rate, and I am now impatiently counting the days until the final episode is released in June.


Extras:
Interviews with Justin Richards (writer of Fractures and series script editor), Ken Bentley (series director), Hugh Fraser (the President) and writers Mark Wright and Cavan Scott. Interestingly, there is no trailer for the final episode; instead there is one for Liberator Chronicles Volume 8, and clips from the first story President are used to illustrate Hugh Fraser's interview.

Vortex issue 63 is also included, and features an interview with Paul Darrow and with the writers of Liberator Chronicles 8.

Cold Fury is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download.
Details of the other episodes in this series are here: B7 Classic Audio Adventures.
The full range of Big Finish's B7 range is here: B7 from BF.


On his blog, Cavan Scott dedicated this episode to his Big Finish colleague and friend Paul Spragg, who died suddenly on May 8th. I had been in regular contact with Paul, and as our last exchange of emails was when he sent me the picture that appears on this page, I would like to do the same with this review. RIP, Paul.

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