Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Minister of Chance

This audio series may have slipped under your radar and with the release of episode 3 I felt this was a good time to review the series so far. TMoC is an audio adventure set in a world which blends science fiction and fantasy. The Minister Of Chance played by Julian Wadham was a character who first appeared in the Doctor Who audio adventure Death Comes to Time. This spin off series has a  style similar to the classic BBC Radiophonic workshop productions. So if you are a regular listener to Radio 4 Extra you are sure to enjoy this series. 

Minister of Chance is written, produced and directed by creative force Dan Freeman. It has an impressive cast drawing well known names from the world of Doctor Who and British television, film and theatre. The cast includes Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Paul Darrow, Jenny Agutter, Lloyd Hutchinson, Stuart Fox, Julian Wadham, Tasmin Greig, Gethin Anthony and Lauren Grace. To date TMoC has released 3 episodes and one prologue. The Pointed Hand kicks off the series and is followed by The Broken World, The Forest Shakes and now Paludin Fields.

The story itself follows the rise to power and political manoeuvring of Ambassador Durian of Sezuan (Paul McGann) and his take over of the primitive island nation of Tanto. The new regime suppresses science and once a garrison occupies the land, destruction and oppression soon spread. Resistant groups form and the story then quickly establishes a number of story arcs involving the political manoeuvring of Durian, the formation of the resistance, the oppression of science and the journey of a young barmaid called Kitty whose curiosity leads her on a quest as becomes the unwilling companion of the Minister.

Such a strong cast transports you to another world with ease. No actor delivers a less than perfect performance and being such a well known cast to the Who world, this feels like a reunion with old friends, the listener will engage with the characters in no time at all. 

The production quality of this series eclipses nearly every audio adventure I've listened to, with music and sound effects perfectly complimenting the cast. Only occasionally do the background sound effects become intrusive. A minor niggle. Elements reminded me of the BBC Radiophonic classic The Lord of the Rings, with the production achieving the same high standards.

When compared to some Big Finish productions, it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with BF's finest productions. It just gives you some idea of the attention to detail, time and effort that he gone into polishing this series. This deserves the opportunity to be broadcast on a national radio station to help spread the word and broaden the audience for this series.

The delivery of strong performances from the cast leaves you wanting more from each episode. You yearn for more Darrow, more McCoy and McGann. It inspires you to seek out other work by these actors such as the Liberator Chronicles or other Who audio adventures as TMoC showcases just how they can shine when given the right script. 

What is more remarkable is that the series is free to download and listen to as a podcast. It is entirely funded by donations and fund raising. To assemble such a cast, invest such time in the quality of the writing and then produce an audio adventure so flawless and not charge Is the kind of creative charity so very rare these days. As future productions rely on donations from listeners, I urge any listener who has enjoyed TMoC as much as I have to make a donation. Fundraising has already got well under way for episode 4.

I've no intention of becoming self-righteous and preaching but please stop for a moment and consider donating £10 or more. There are 'perks' for those donating more... It really is such a small price to pay and helps ensure this future classic continues.

The Minister of Chance is available to download here

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