Torchwood: Visiting Hours review

Season 3 of Big Finish Torchwood kicks off in style with Nerys Hughes and Kai Owen as mother and son Brenda and Rhys Williams in David Llewellyn’s Visiting Hours. The standard of entertainment and production is as high as ever, and this season promises to match the high standards set already.

The story

First the Big Finish synopsis:

Everyone’s a little worried about St Helen’s Hospital. In many ways it is a miracle of the modern NHS. It has plenty to offer its patients. The problem is that a lot of them keep dying of natural causes in the night. And no-one can find the bodies.

People are beginning to notice. Questions are being asked. And there are rumours – the strange whispering figures seen at the end of the corridors, the electrical buzzing, the screams.

Also, Rhys Williams has come to visit his mother. Brenda’s had her hip done and is looking forward to a bit of rest and regular crumble. Rhys and his mam are in for a night they’ll never forget.

Rhys is keeping his mam company and soon notices things aren’t quite what they should be. As his instincts and experience lead him to uncover a dreadful conspiracy, his mam is more than a little concerned at his bad language! This is the mood for the whole story – dark events contrasted with the very convincing mother/son relationship at the heart of the story. Kai Owen clearly understands Rhys on a visceral level (as evidenced by the interviews) and it shows in every part of his performance.

There’s enough mystery and unnatural happening to satisfy Torchwood fans, but also a lot of character and warmth to please those for whom the characters are almost more important than events.

As the story unfolds Rhys never strays outside the confines of a resourceful but plausible hero doing his best and with a strong moral compass. Even with her hip, Brenda has her own part to play if they are to survive the night unscathed.

The storytelling

Unlike earlier Torchwood releases, this has a larger cast with Rhys and Brenda at the centre of a collection of sinister doctors (Stephen Critchlow’s Dr Fletcher), overworked nurse (Ruth Lloyd’s Nurse Brown) and the almost Home Alone villainy of Mr Tate (Karl Theobald) and Mr Nichols (Ryan Sampson). Here again David Llewellyn deserves credit; as the story unfolds we learn that the supposed villains are all too human, with all to convincing motives and they help the listener realise this is a tale about family values.

Needless to say Scott Handcock’s direction is as good as ever, and I hope we don’t wait too long before Nerys Hughes graces another episode.

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