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Torchwood: Golden AgeJack, Gwen and Ianto leave the confines of Cardiff to investigate the disappearance of thousands of people in India. The trail leads to Delhi, where they witness one of the disappearances first-hand, as hapless dockworkers are consumed by some kind of energy net. But even more suspicious is some of the cargo that was being moved – cargo addressed to Captain Jack Harkness. It turns out that Delhi is one of Jack’s old stomping grounds, and the home of Torchwood India, which Jack shut down nearly a century ago. Jack pays a visit to the colonial gentlemen’s club which was once home to the local Torchwood group, and is stunned to find that it’s still in operation – and his old cohort the Duchess is still in charge and hasn’t aged a day. Despite that oddity, nothing immediately links Torchwood India to the mass disappearances in Delhi. But clearly the presence of the team from Cardiff has the Duchess’ staff and servants on edge – their answers are evasive at best. When Gwen and Ianto disappear without a trace, Jack discovers the terrifying truth: the Duchess is so obsessed with clinging to the British Empire’s past that she’ll sacrifice humanity’s future to preserve it.

Order the CDwritten by James Goss
directed by Kate McAll
music by Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Jasmine Hyde (The Duchess), Amerjit Dew (Mr. Daz), Ravin J. Ganatra (Mahajan), Richard Mitchley (Gissing)

Notes: This made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on July 2nd, 2009, days before the premiere of Children Of Earth on BBC TV. Writer James Goss was previously in charge of bbc.co.uk’s FictionLab project, and one of his duties in that job was coordinating with Big Finish for the production of the animated webcast Real Time starring Colin Baker as the sixth Doctor. Torchwood India is said to have retrieved a Yeti sphere from the Himalayas (possibly left over from, or related to, the 1968 Doctor Who story The Abominable Snowmen). At the end of Golden Age, after Torchwood India vanishes, Ianto comments that there’s “nothing at the end of the lane” – an in-joke on the earliest working title for the very first episode of Doctor Who, which was eventually broadcast under the title An Unearthly Child.

Timeline: After the audio story Asylum, and before both the audio story The Dead Line and the Torchwood: Children Of Earth TV miniseries.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: A rock-solid Torchwood adventure that would’ve done the TV series proud, Golden Age is a rare Torchwood gem: it exposes some of Jack’s past and actually pays it off within the same story in a way that’s integral to the narrative. It returns to the idea of Torchwood as a corrupted organization, long before the fall of the arrogant modern-day Torchwood at Canary Wharf (or, indeed, in Children Of Earth), and at the same time comments – uncompromisingly – on the subject of British imperial colonialism.

The guest cast is great across the board. At first I was a bit put off at the slightly dizzy reading of the Duchess character, until I finally realized that it was perfectly appropriate – the woman has completely flipped. Despite the fact that this is clearly Jack’s story, Golden Age has interesting moments for both Gwen and Ianto as well; the supporting characters are well fleshed-out too.

If there’s one gigantic glaring flaw to Golden Age, it’s this: the moment you realize the nature of the story’s big threat, you know exactly how it can be, if not defeated, then at least slowed down enough for a solution to be found. The story is resolved in a manner very similar to season 1’s End Of Days; the moment that anything that feeds on life itself is revealed to be the big bad, it’s a given that Captain Jack’s inexhaustible supply of life force will save the day. But aside from the painfully obvious resolution, Golden Age is one of the better Torchwood radio adventures.

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