Big Finish: Torchwood CADOC POINT Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Torchwood CADOC POINT Review

Tony may not know much about art, but he knows what he likes.
There’s something that’s both joyously and scarily realistic about the premise behind Cadoc Point, the latest Torchwood story by David Llewellyn.

It starts simply. Domestically. With Sergeant Andy Davidson turning up at a stranger’s door in the pouring rain. His car’s broken down, and his phone’s out of battery.

Yyyyeah, we know. First of all, this is the 21st century, who lets their phone die? That would be like admitting that Fear Of Missing Out is not…like…a real thing.

But within the first moments of their conversation, it becomes clear that this is no random stranger. Back in the day, Merl Williams was Andy Davidson’s art teacher. Which, considering Andy couldn’t draw to save the world, was a brave thing to have been.

But even though he’s now retired to the coast at Cadoc Point, Merl has recently hit the headlines – and not for the first time.

Merl is an art teacher with a past. Welsh as Welsh can be, he grew up gay, and travelled widely, soaking up art from the whole of history, feeling it speak to him and growing his own skills. He had the occasional relationship, sometimes with artists, sometimes with men who became a kind of muse for his creative impulses.

But then, after he’d come home and become a teacher, inspiring the next generation of artistic minds… there were the deaths. The deaths of potentially once-in-a-generation artists.

And then there’s the connection between them – and between them and one of his own paintings. One of his paintings, the central figure of which appears in a work of each of the dead artists – painted not long before they died.

So what is the secret of Cadoc Point? What connects the artists, the deaths, and the painted-over representation of Ariel from The Tempest in Merl Williams’ house? And how did Andy’s childhood friend, who used to visit Cadoc Point with Merl on artistic day trips, survive?

The trick to pulling off a script like this, where you’re constantly re-thinking the reality of the situation, is balance. And David Llewellyn could balance his script on the head of a pin here. Initially, you brace, in this 21st century world of human horrors. Will this story, that starts out domestic and ‘ordinary,’ reveal some twisted, human evil like stories such as Corpse Day? Will there be a cellar full of artist-bones, and, as Andy has come out without any Torchwood backup, and without even any regular police backup, is he about to join them?

Or is there something more complex going on? Something more generally unbelievable? Something more fundamentally…Torchwood?

As we move through this story, which has the layering and beats of a perfect psychological or supernatural horror movie, we learn that Andy’s old school friend, Darren Jenkins (Aled Pugh), was on course to be the next in the line of haunted artists to die, until the day he slashed a painting of a similar figure to Merl’s Ariel, hanging on public display.

Life went downhill for Darren after that, including questions about his mental health, and subsequent medication. Now he lives more or less in the same room he had as a teenager, in his childhood home with his mother. When Andy pops around to see him before his ‘accidental’ visit to Merl’s house at Cadoc Point, it stirs up old memories of the man, the place, and what he saw there.

And, more importantly, he knows that Andy will go looking around Cadoc Point, and what he will face when he gets there.

We’re not about to tell you whether there’s something Torchwood at Cadoc Point, or whether the tension that develops expertly through the conversation between Merl (Gareth Armstrong) and Andy (Tom Price) is either a human tragedy or a thrumming, ongoing, repeating psychological trauma.

What we can tell you is that it’s more complicated than you’ll ever at first imagine. And as the story goes along, Armstrong carves the character of Merl into your memory (with, it has to be admitted, one of the most rolling, mesmerising Welsh accents you’ll have heard in a while), and you’ll want to like him.

Which of course would be exactly the kind of skill you’d need if you were luring young artists to a deadly fate, while inspiring them to paint their own interpretation of the same image.

We’re not saying. We’re just saying.

The combination of Armstrong, Price, and Pugh is very strong and highly nuanced – with room for a fantastic mother-son relationship between Danny and his mother (Hazel Ellerby), which makes the point that mental health issues are is not one long, dark, never-ending tunnel of doom.

What you get in Cadoc Point is characterisation all the way down the line, and pacing that shows David Llewellyn’s mastery of drama.

And even as the story unfolds and the truth is revealed, as Merl’s Ariel is uncovered and it triggers an ending that will send ripples of Hammer horror down your spine, one thing is left untold until very late in the day.

Obviously, this is a personal cause for Andy. His old art teacher has hit the headlines as a potential killer, but no evidence has ever linked him firmly to the series of bizarre, art-connected deaths. His old school friend is intimately wound up in the layers of the drama, whether it’s purely psychological or something more Torchwood.

But you don’t discover until late in the story exactly why this investigation is quite SO personal to Andy as it is. Why he comes to investigate a potential murderer on his own, with no backup from the people who might most easily accept an alternative to the serial killing storyline.

This is Andy Davidson going rogue. Andy Davidson, just a man with a gun. With no instructions from either the police, or from Torchwood. No permission.

The result is proof of the instincts of Torchwood’s civilian liaison. And it’s also proof of the power of forgiveness, the power of doing the right thing when you get the chance, even if it comes late. And it’s proof of the quality of writing, pacing, and performance of which David Llewellyn, Tom Price, and Big Finish are capable.

Listen to Cadoc Point today, and you’ll get lessons on art, on humanity, on inspiration and loss – but most of all, you’ll get lessons in how to do the right thing, no matter how late, and no matter what the potential cost. It’s a masterpiece of dramatic construction, performance and pacing, and its lessons have never felt more relevant than they do right now.

Torchwood: Cadoc Point is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until 31 March 2022, and on general sale after this date.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

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