Lost Souls

Torchwood: Lost SoulsTorchwood leaves Cardiff behind for a flight to Switzerland after a call from Martha Jones. Serving as part of the UNIT contingent at the soon-to-be-activated Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, Martha says that strange occurrences and even unexplained disappearances among personnel are taking place – followed by a cover-up which UNIT doesn’t seem to be able to penetrate. Torchwood gains access to the collider by passing Ianto off as the Welsh ambassador, and Martha gives them a first-hand look at what’s been happening to some of the people who enter the colliider tunnel. But when Gwen and Ianto enter the tunnel for themselves, Ianto’s certain he can hear the voices of the dead – even voices claiming to be Owen, Toshiko and Lisa – while Gwen tries to fight off the same sensation. Unknown to them, however, someone else on site has already been hearing those same “voices of the dead” – and is doing their bidding, regardless of the consequences to the collider experiment or its personnel.

Order the CDwritten by Joseph Lidster
directed by Kate McAll
music by Ben Foster and Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones), Lucy Montgomery (Professor Johnson), Stephen Crichlow (Dr. Oliver Harrington), Mark Meadows (Leon Foiret)

Notes: This first made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on September 10th, 2008, to mark the occasion of the real-life CERN Large Hadron Collider being fully switched on for the first time. Writer Joseph Lidster, who also penned the Torchwood TV episode A Day In The Death, got his started writing audio dramas based on the series from which Torchwood spun off, Doctor Who. In a way, Lost Souls brings Doctor Who-related audio drama back to its very beginnings – the first Doctor Who audio story, Exploration Earth: The Time Machine, was an educational program starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen during their TV heyday.

Timeline: As the funerals of Owen and Toshiko (both of whom died in the second season finale Exit Wounds) are mentioned as a recent event, and they’re also the last time that the surviving Torchwood members saw Martha, presumably Lost Souls takes place between Exit Wounds and the Doctor Who fourth season finale The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End, which saw Torchwood and Martha working together again.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Devised as a semi-educational part of BBC Radio 4’s “Big Bang Day,” celebrating the inauguration of the Large Hadron Collider operating beneath the border of France and Switzerland, Lost Souls actually falls just a little bit short in both its educational remit and as a Torchwood adventure.

Though the story, via dialogue, gets across the basic news soundbite explanation of the LHC, oversimplifying things a bit, but it gets what information is needed for the purposes of the plot across – that’s okay. What I’m not too crazy about is that we then get, by way of Captain Jack, a more mystified version of that information, with Jack claiming at one point that the Higgs Boson particle is “life” itself. (In fact, the theoretical Higgs Boson particle is related to mass, i.e. why everything in the universe has mass.) To characterize the Higgs Boson as “life” is misleading at best, and normally I wouldn’t begrudge anyone in the Doctor Who universe for taking a little bit of dramatic license, except that Lost Souls was commissioned specially for the occasion of a day of talk radio programming aimed at demystifying the LHC.

As far as the Torchwood end of things goes, perhaps due to its afternoon timeslot, the characterizations and script are perhaps a bit watered down from what we’d normally expect from Torchwood – there are a couple of “what the hell”s uttered, and Jack makes one reference to someone’s good looks. Otherwise, it might as well be audio Doctor Who. But then again, I’m not sure that the middle of the afternoon is a reasonable time to expect the usual saucy Torchwood fare. I did, however, find the frequent mentions of Owen and Toshiko’s deaths as a recent event to be interesting. This is an aftermath that we didn’t get to see played out on TV, and it’s interesting – and not completely incidental to the plot either.

It’s not bad – it at least feels like TV Torchwood – but when the thing was conceived as a part of a day meant to enlighten the public about the LHC, I’m not sure it helps to slot real explanations in alongside something that really straddled the fence between science fiction and science fantasy.