AUDIO REVIEW: Bayban the Butcher

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • A Big Finish production
  • Full cast, including Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Stephen Grief, and Colin Baker
  • Approximately 3 hours
  • Released in December 2021

Bayban the Butcher. Bayban the Berserker. Bayban the Bad. His is a name that will long live in infamy. For not all who resist the Federation fight for freedom, and Bayban will destroy anyone who stands between himself and greatness . . .

When you have a cast as large as that of the ever-changing Liberator crew, it’s no surprise that Blake’s 7 didn’t have much in the way of recurring guest stars. Aside from Servalan and Travis, most people encountered by Blake and co were either sent on their way or killed off in the episode in which they first appeared. Such was the fate of Bayban the Butcher, as played by a scenery-chewing Colin Baker. But good villains don’t rest easy, and now with the magic of audio Bayban can return to terrorise the Federation in three more stories.

Colin Baker’s single on-screen appearance as Bayban very much sets the tone for this boxset. Bayban is a bad man. A bad, bad man. And he’s proud of it. On screen, Baker excelled at a rather camp sort of villainy. In audio form, there’s a gleeful mania to his delivery. It’s all ludicrously over the top, but that’s what makes it so fun. Baker and Bayban are having just as much fun with the mayhem that ensues. With all the grit and darkness of other Blake’s 7 offerings, it’s a nice change of pace to have an adventure in which the main character is actually enjoying himself.

Of course, what Bayban enjoys is not necessarily a good thing. When we first meet him, he’s running a rather unscrupulous abattoir. Bayban the Butcher indeed. In the second story, Bayban gets married, but this is of course an elaborate scheme to steal a planet’s greatest treasure. And in the final instalment, he’s invited some old ‘friends’ for a game – a game in which he hunts them with murderous intent. Quite often with Big Finish’s trilogies I find that the story starts to drag a little across the volumes. Breaking the story up in a more episodic fashion avoids this problem, with each of the three stories standing alone. At the same time, I think a longer collection might have become subdued after a while, so this little trilogy of tales is just the right length.

Something else Bayban the Butcher does better than some prior offerings is including other characters from the show. Jenna, Travis, and Vila all make an appearance at some point, and all brilliantly recapture the essence of their on-screen appearances. Travis’ role in the middle story is particularly interesting. It works perfectly well on its own terms, but also hints at a broader narrative being woven across the Worlds of Blake’s 7 boxsets. Clearly, I am listening to these first few releases out of order, but they’re great stories nonetheless.

All in all, Bayban the Butcher is a fun, diverting piece of villainy, and a fine example of how Big Finish can grow the universe now that the Liberator’s journey is at an end.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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