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Ashenden was the second release in the Torchwood Soho audio series. It was written by James Goss and starred Samuel Barnett as Norton Folgate, Dervla Kirwan as Lizbeth Hayhoe, Tom Price as Andy Davidson and Joe Shire as Gideon Lyme.

Publisher's summary[]

Return to the world of 1950s Torchwood!

Welcome to Ashenden. An exciting new town just outside London, and also the home of a terrible secret.

London has been infiltrated - a darkness is spreading from the bombsites to the highest ranks of government. A darkness that cannot be stopped. A desperate hunt is on for the man who caused it.

The past has come for Torchwood agent Norton Folgate. This is the hour of the hollow man.

1. Pimlico
Sergeant Andy finds himself chased through the ruins of London with only a dead woman for company.
2. O Little Town of Ashenden
Ashenden was once a listening station. It's become something far worse.
3. The National Health
Sergeant Andy must fight his way out of a hospital that offers care from the cradle to the grave.
4. Rivers of Blood
Miss Satterthwaite always dreamed that the stars were listening to her, and now they're changing her life forever.
5. Now is the Time for All Good Men
Lizbeth Hayhoe is looking for help from those in power. But they are turning a deaf ear.
6. The Hour of the Hollow Man
Some things in life cannot be escaped. Death, taxes, and a picnic on the beach.

Plot[]

Pimlico (1)[]

Andy unexpectedly finds himself in 1950s London and instantly calls out for Norton, expecting him to be responsible. Lizbeth appears and, followed by gunfire, tells him to take cover. Hiding from the bullets, she tells him that she is dead and asks what his excuse for being there is.

Lizbeth leads Andy through an old bomb site and they hide behind a wall. With both of them having been taken out of time, they each believe themselves to be Norton's assessor and Lizbeth reasons that she must be dead by this time or else Norton would have simply contacted her by telephone. After cutting through a house, Andy realises that the shooters are guiding them somewhere rather than trying to kill them. Like Andy, Lizbeth is flesh and blood rather than a hard-light pharadyne projection and is sobered by the knowledge that she will die in the '50s, having planned to own a bad tea shop in her twilight. The two spot Norton in a chauffeur-driven car and are shot at as they approach him, the car being blown up. Lyme helps them both up and they flee.

Lyme tells Andy and Lizbeth that they are in the Pimlico Depopulation Zone, a severely damaged part of London which has had its population relocated and is to be redeveloped by the New Towns Department. He takes them into a building full of tramps who identify themselves as the Torchwood Emergency Continuity Board and inform them that the Pimlico Depopulation Zone has been infiltrated by an alien force that they are trying to contain. They tell them that they must hunt down Norton, the "rogue agent".

Andy does not believe that Norton would allow London to become invaded, but Lizbeth thinks that he would do if there were something in it for him. Lyme says that the Pimlico Zone has become Norton's base of operations and that he must not be allowed to use it to establish a bridgehead, but Andy and Lizbeth must first rest to recover from their temporal displacement.

Andy and Lizbeth are taken to Pinkerton's Lodging Rooms and meet Miss Pinkerton, who serves them inedible food which the other lodgers eat without complaint. The windows are barred, the door is locked and the other lodgers seem just as rundown as the Emergency Continuity Board, prompting Lizbeth to go upstairs and whisper to Andy to join her in thirty seconds. In that time, the lodgers say "Ashenden" and order Andy to be silent when he questions them.

Andy enters Lizbeth's room, which is better than his, and they wonder why Lyme has put them there. Lizbeth suggests that he and the Emergency Continuity Board might not trust them because they had been summoned by Norton and that whatever Norton is involved in might have entered Pinkerton's. Lizbeth spots an armed operative outside and they decide to escape. Andy returns to his room and falls asleep as the radio crackles before he is awoken by rocks being thrown at his window. He opens it up, expecting to see Norton, but instead sees something "not good".

Lizbeth enters Andy's room and tells him that the radio interference is hypnotic, which is how the safehouse has been infiltrated. They theorise that the force is using the radio to subdue the lodgers and keep them from warning Torchwood and Andy says that he believes he saw Norton outside outside his window. He says that he heard scuttling in his wardrobe, which Lizbeth opens and finds that it is empty. However, there is slime on the shelf and a hole in the back of the cupboard.

Andy tries to knock down the door to escape without success and instead suggests jumping from the bay window in the dining room, which does not have bars. They enter the dining room and find Miss Pinkerton sitting in the dark, saying that she is waiting just in case one of the other lodgers need her. One of her cats finds a creature, which Miss Pinkerton refers to as one of the lodgers, and is quickly eaten before the creature turns to Andy and Lizbeth, Miss Pinkerton telling them not to struggle and that they might as well go to Ashenden. Lizbeth smashes the window with a chair and jumps out with Andy.

On the run, Andy suggests that they hide at Ashenden but Lizbeth is against the idea, saying that it is a "nothing of a a place" and that she does not know how to get there. Seeing a poster, Andy sees that the next train there leaves Waterloo station, which is not far from Pimlico, in an hour. At Waterloo, Lizbeth feels that she and Andy are being watched, but Andy ignores her despite recognising that some people look like plainclothes policemen who approach them as they realise that they do not have money for tickets. They hurry away and board the train.

In a first-class carriage with sand on the floor, Lizbeth says that something feels wrong and that they have to leave the train. They are then asked for tickets by the conductor and Andy admits that they do not have any tickets. However, Norton appears, presents tickets to the conductor and holds Andy and Lizbeth at gunpoint, telling them that they are going to Ashenden.

O Little Town of Ashenden (2)[]

Lyme, a member of the Arrivals Bureau, welcomes a group of people to Ashenden, which has porters to assist and guards for protection. When Norton greets him, he tells him that he should not be there, but Norton says that he, Andy and Lizbeth have inspection passes from the Department of New Towns. Lyme warns him that he is not welcome and that he knows what will become of him now that he is here, but Norton is dismissive and joins a guided tour with Lizbeth, who found the conversation sinister, and Andy, who found it awkward. They note that Lyme did not seem to recognise them and that the guards seem to be there to prevent them from escaping.

In the town square, Amanda Delen of the Department of New Towns says that she has a number of concerns, including the under-sized medical centre and the absence of any places of worship. Whilst those on the tour are initially concerned, Lyme distracts them by telling them that they will miss the factory tours and a picnic on the beach if they keep stopping. They next visit one of the homes where Norton and Lizbeth discuss Ashenden, which was a World War II landing strip and radio-tracking station, which is still in operation, when she last saw it.

Andy asks Lyme what is going on as he and Norton had been going to restart Torchwood when he last saw them, but Lyme says that that is not the case anymore. When Andy brings up Pinkerton's, Lyme says that he is concerned about Torchwood but cannot talk about it with Norton around, saying that he cannot be trusted and that he is frightened of what he has become. They arrange to meet in private at the picnic.

Afterwards, Amanda asks Andy about his conversation with Lyme and says that Ashenden is strange, having been subject to a number of fact-finding missions yet very little is known about it. She does not understand how everybody can be fit into the town, which does not seem to be big enough for the number of people who have moved there, and says that the town is without soul.

Lyme takes his group to the old runway which he claims is disused. However, Lizbeth notices scorch marks and determines that there has been a lot of traffic on the airstrip, which Norton says is nothing to worry about, and points out that the radar dishes are still moving. Norton says that the station is still in operation and that it is one of the reasons that he wanted Lizbeth there, but she must find for herself what the other reasons are. He tells her to go to the picnic.

Lyme says that the hangars are being kept untouched as tribute to the airmen of World War II and allows the group to have a look around. Lizbeth tells Andy that she needs him to help her escape, whilst Norton speaks with Lyme, apologising for something that happened which resulted in him working here. Amanda interrupts to ask Lyme questions about roundabouts when they hear a sound coming from the hangar which she says is likely a pigeon. In truth, Andy is boosting Lizbeth out of a window onto the roof so that she can reach the station.

At the Arrivals Bureau, the Kennedys, Hamiltons, O'Reillys, Patels, Fernandezes and Singhs are given keys to their new houses, despite the Singhs only being visitors. Mr Singh is confused and tells Lyme that he was told he would have to be on a waiting list, but Lyme has Patricia and Michael direct him, Mrs Singh and their children to their new home, telling them that their luggage at their hotel will be sent for. Amanda says that it is unusual and asks about the people who went on the factory tour, whom Lyme says will meet them at the picnic.

Andy asks Norton why he brought him to the 1950s, why he was sent to hunt him down and why he has been ignoring him since holding him at gunpoint, but Norton changes the subject when he realises that Lizbeth has disappeared and asks Andy what he has done.

Lizbeth enters the tracking station, which is just as she left it. She had been sent there by Torchwood to verify what Professor Ornadel and Miss Satterthwaite had found and feels that she failed them, their bodies sat where they were when she left. The station is still receiving a signal which Norton was not able to stop.

The children of Ashenden put on a show playing their recorders and Lyme says that cultural life is important to the town. Amanda, unimpressed by the performance, asks Andy where his friends are.

Lizbeth says that she, Professor Ornadel and Miss Satterthwaite all made a mistake and that they are all now dead. Norton enters and points out that Professor Ornadel and the men from the ministry are still moving and are not quite dead, unlike Miss Satterthwaite whose body is to blame for the unpleasant smell. Something has hatched out of her. Lizbeth asks if this is why Norton brought her back, but he says that he brought her back to be at the picnic on the beach.

Lyme leads the group to the beach and Andy wonders where Norton and Lizbeth are. Amanda says that the people she came with are on the factory tour and Andy remembers that he was told that Ashenden was a commuter town, which would mean that there would be no factories, but Amanda tells him that there are factories galore. She asks Lyme about the sewage capacity of the town which is only half of the population, but Lyme changes the subject with the picnic and everybody tucks in. Andy and Amanda sit together and she tells him that he has no need to worry about his friends as there is no crime in Ashenden. She believes that the town is too perfect.

Lizbeth asks why Norton wants her to go to the picnic but he tells her not to argue. He tells her that he brought her back because she was wrong the last time she was here, the two of them having unwittingly enabled what is happening and allowing the force to come through, although it is too late to save the people of Ashenden. He says that she has to hurry to the beach.

Lights not unlike the aurora borealis appear at the beach, coming from the conning tower, and it begins to rain. Lyme tells everybody that the lights are there for them and that they should enjoy it. Andy is worried for the bathers and shouts that they should get out of the water, but Lyme laughs and says that it is a picnic. Eel-like creatures appear and Lyme says that it is the time of the Hollow Man; the creatures grab Andy and Amanda and pull them into the ground.

The National Health (3)[]

Nurse Bledsoe, a new nurse, is caught by Matron hiding and reading the Reader's Digest. She says that she does not care for the work, believing that it is cruel, and asks if they should not let a patient go after they do not respond to treatment. Matron says that some patients are stubborn and at the very least they have made this particular one look comfortable. They will increase the dosage.

Nurse Bledsoe talks to a comatose patient who has lasted much longer than the others and prepares to go on her rounds, wondering if she is doing the patient good by talking to him. She tells the patient that they have a VIP visitor in the morning and heads off to take the bourbons from a patient three beds down.

Matron shows Lyme to Bledsoe's patient, whom Mr Biswas says has a few physical unusualities and who has not awoken. Matron suggests that they could discharge him, but Lyme says that he should stay there and they should let nature take its course. Later, the patient - Andy - wakes up and asks what has happened to him, not remembering anything since the beach. Nurse Bledsoe goes to tell Matron that he has awoken.

Matron gives Andy an injection which she tells him is medicine. She goes to fetch him shortbread as he falls asleep. When he awakens, Nurse Bledsoe is eating his biscuit. He notices that the patients around him are all different, which is strange given that Nurse Bledsoe tells him that he has only been asleep for a few hours. She heads off to give another patient their injections.

Upon awakening again, Andy sees that the patients have all been replaced, which Matron says is down to a few of them being discharged and a few of the beds being moved around. He questions this and Matron tells him that he is poking his nose into private matters and, when he tries to leave, she injects him again and tells him that the patients go "where's best for them". Andy will go there too if he does not improve.

Matron stops a patient, Mr Matterfully, who leaves his bed from leaving and tells Nurse Bledsoe to give him 40cc, saying that he is a hopeless case. They had had such high hopes for him and were ready for him to rejoin society where he had a job lined up for him. Matron says that some people just do not try hard enough.

Nurse Bledsoe offers Andy a teddy bear, a number of them having been brought in now that there are children on the wards. When Matron gives him his injection, a larger one than usual, he asks what happened to Mr Matterfully and is told that he has been transferred. She and Nurse Bledsoe go to see to the children, leaving Andy with a teddy.

In the evening, Andy awakes for his evening medicine and asks where his teddy is. Nurse Bledsoe says that all of the toys have been packed away as all of the children have moved on, not having taken to the treatment. She tells him that Matron is very disappointed by his lack of progress and that he will soon be getting out of here. She straps him down and Matron has her fetch the preparations, telling him that he is a malingerer and a bed-blocker and that, despite her efforts to keep it alive, his transplant has not taken as he does not "know what time it is". She injects him with 50cc and says that it is a shame.

Andy awakes buried alive and hears Norton above him, telling him to swim towards the light. He turns himself around and feels like he is wrapped in what feels like a clammy packing material and, after feeling a hand touch him, realises that he is buried beneath a pile of corpses. With great effort, he manages to get out into a children's park where Norton is on a swing.

Norton tells Andy that all of the corpses are rejects of the transplants and that all of this is Lizbeth's fault as she was the one who created Ashenden. Whilst that is the reason that he brought her, he says that he brought Andy because he needed a friend. He confirms that the patients were having symbiotes placed inside of them and that the one in Andy died because of him being out of his own time. Andy realises that Lyme has been taken over by one of the symbiotes and Norton says that they have to get out of Ashenden.

Norton and Andy plan to act like they are possessed in order to take the train to Waterloo. On the platform, Andy notices that the commuters are all carrying briefcases which are leaking sand and they realise that each of them contain an eel. They get onboard the train and Norton says that the secret of Ashenden is that it is an invasion.

Rivers of Blood (4)[]

Lizbeth and Norton take Reginald Rigsby's chauffeur-driven car to Ashenden where they are greeted by Miss Satterthwaite, who leads them to Professor Ornadel and demand to know why he has begun unsanctioned diplomatic relations with an alien life-form. The bumbling Professor Ornadel suggests that he should make them tea, whilst Miss Satterthwaite concedes that she should show them their listening equipment.

Professor Ornadel explains that, whilst watching the skies for Russian signals they came across an alien signal from deep space and kept it secret whilst continuing to work on it, hoping to achieve fame. He blames Miss Satterthwaite and, per their plan to divide and conquer, Lizbeth and Norton separate her and the professor. Norton manipulates Professor Ornadel by being sympathetic whilst Lizbeth questions Miss Satterthwaite by flattering her.

Lizbeth tells Miss Satterthwaite that she is furious with her for treating communicating with aliens just like she would a puzzle in the newspaper, saying that the aliens were pushing them to prove themselves and that she effectively filled in a census for them. However, she says that she does not want Miss Satterthwaite to stop and that there is another option to closing them down: finding out what the aliens want.

Lizbeth supplies Ashenden with more resources, which Norton believes is down to her fancying Miss Satterthwaite. He tells Professor Ornadel that someone from the ministry will be visiting tomorrow.

Miss Satterthwaite tells Lizbeth that the aliens seem to be offering to answer solutions to find out what humans want. She produces equations which could be used to model the ideal population of the United Kingdom with reference to density, makeup and infrastructure. Lizbeth believes that the aliens are correcting humanity. Miss Satterthwaite later tells Professor Ornadel that, with the alien's information, they can calculate the value of a human to humanity.

Norton and Lizbeth tell Miss Satterthwaite that the project will be shut down by men like Professor Ornadel and Rigsby because they will not like being told their true value, but Lizbeth says that she will keep it going and takes Rigsby's car to Whitehall. Norton tells Miss Satterthwaite that Lizbeth is like Rigsby in that she does not hear things that she does not like and wonders if the aliens' motives are benign.

Lizbeth has had the project taken over by the War Office instead of Torchwood, but Professor Ornadel brings in the Department of New Towns to keep his position. The aliens send Miss Satterthwaite equations equal to the size of Ashenden, which Norton believes is the aliens' way of saying that they know where she is.

The Department of New Towns begin turning Ashenden into a new town using the "Ashenden Formula", something that Norton blames Lizbeth for. However, she says that she will make sure that the plan never gets off the ground. She meets with a person in authority, who will not listen to her or Miss Satterthwaite, whilst Norton is now a mouthpiece of the department and asks Miss Satterthwaite to find a way for the aliens to attend meetings.

Miss Satterthwaite tells Norton that the aliens have a solution to the issue of communication, but he says that she should do whatever it is without listening. She gives him lilacs as he leaves for London.

A few months later, Norton takes Lyme to Ashenden, calling it "the town that Torchwood built". Lyme asks him if they could live there, but Norton says that the town is not ready for a black man, to which Lyme points out a number of people belonging to ethnic minorities. This takes Norton by surprise. He introduces Lyme to Miss Satterthwaite, who is talking with a more distinguished accent, as his deputy and she takes Norton to the tracking station by car, Lyme wanting to walk.

Miss Satterthwaite presents Norton with charts which show that the value of the people of Ashenden has risen since their arrival. She reveals that the aliens had listened to Norton's concern about communication and that they then took over Miss Satterthwaite's body to use her as a mouthpiece. Everybody in Ashenden will be similarly transformed and they have plans to expand the project.

Norton goes to Professor Ornadel, who is drunk and blames Norton and Lizbeth for what has happened, including Miss Satterthwaite being transformed. The professor is the next to be transformed and the call has gone out to the slums and colonies inviting 20,000 people to Ashenden despite the town only being able to house 5,000. The professor asks what will happen to the 15,000.

Norton finds Lyme, who is enjoying walking around the town, and points out how strangely perfect and uniformly the people are acting. He says that he has made a mistake and hurries away with him to the railway station where they sit in the waiting room. He admits that Ashenden is a project to turn refugees and other undesirables into productive members of society, which disgusts Lyme. Norton begs for his help with fixing it, but Lyme tells him that he has had enough and leaves. Norton finds a suitcase full of sand with an eel inside and screams as he is attacked, having realised that the conductor has locked him in.

Now is the Time for All Good Men (5)[]

Norton tells Andy that he escaped from the eel by jumping through a window and that, ever since, they have been hunting him. Shocked at being stuck on a train full of the possessed, Andy gives himself away and, confronted by a commuter, Norton says that Andy is not one of them. Assisted by Norton, the commuters hold Andy down to force an eel inside of him before Norton, pretending to be possessed, suggests that he infect Andy at his office so as not to waste the commuter's eel. His suggestion is accepted and the commuter says that it is the Hour of the Hollow Man.

Having called in favours to gather information on the spread of the Ashenden phenomenon, Lizbeth confronts the Torchwood Emergency Continuity Board about them being possessed themselves. They tell her that there is nothing that she can do to stop them and the Hour of the Hollow Man.

Norton and Andy arrive in London and notice that everybody is looking at them. Norton says that they have come to the city to run away from Ashenden, not to stop it.

Despite protestations, Lizbeth barges her way into a Department of New Towns meeting and asks Mr Bowers about his possession, also telling his secretary to leave before she too is possessed. She is aware that not all of those at the meeting are possessed, but Mr Bowers points out that the unpossessed conform regardless and orders the other gentlemen to hold her down.

Norton and Andy walk the streets of London, everyone around them marching. A police officer and a shopkeeper both ask them the time, the answer to which is that it is the Hour of the Hollow Man.

Lizbeth calls Major Stevenson's office at the Ministry of Defence and is told by the woman answering the phone that Ashenden must spread and that she knows where she is.

to be completed

The Hour of the Hollow Man (6)[]

to be added

Cast[]

Uncredited[]

References[]

Arts and literature[]

Ashenden[]

Food and drink[]

  • Lizbeth was toasting crumpets when she was summoned.
  • Miss Pinkerton says that her lodgers ask for kippers for breakfast. She says that the smell covers up the smell of the drains.
  • Miss Pinkerton gives Andy and Lizbeth bubble and squeak. Andy asks Lizbeth if it is made entirely out of cabbage and fish bones.
  • Andy decides to drown his bubble and squeak with mustard, reasoning that it could not make it any worse.
  • Lizbeth tells Andy to go and find himself a corned beef sandwich.
  • Pork pies and iced buns are served at the picnic.
  • Nurse Bledsoe eats custard creams. She believes that they are not a bad biscuit, despite not being exciting.
  • Matron takes all the shortbread.
  • Nurse Bledsoe takes bourbons from a patient.
  • The hospital serve dumplings.
  • Whilst waiting at the pile of corpses, Norton drank tea and ate bacon rolls.
  • Lizbeth likes her tea with milk and two sugars. Miss Price gives her some tea but no biscuits.
  • Andy's mother washed jam jars to keep pickled onions in.

Individuals[]

Locations[]

  • Lizbeth leads Andy through Pimlico, an old bomb site which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe. It is not far from Ashenden.
  • Miss Pinkerton owns Pinkerton's Lodging Rooms. There are bars on the windows and Miss Pinkerton has the only key to the front door, which she keeps locked. Lizbeth's room has wallpaper which is covered in mould.
  • Lizbeth says that Andy is taking her to Hemel Hempstead.
  • Amanda mentions Welwyn Garden City.
  • Sidney Ornadel ran the least successful hut at Bletchley Park.

Science and technology[]

  • Lizbeth says that she should be a hard-light pharadyne projection.
  • Miss Satterthwaite gives away that humans know about nuclear half-lives, the Fibonacci sequence, Planck's constant, Fermat's Last Theorem, and even gives them data on human population patterns.

Torchwood[]

  • Torchwood has an Emergency Continuity Board, a bunch of old men in dusty old suits who are convened when the leader of Torchwood One goes missing.

Miscellaneous[]

Notes[]

  • Ashenden was recorded remotely and at Southsea Sound on 26, 28 and 29 April and 13 July 2021.

Continuity[]

  • Lizbeth knows that she must be dead. Andy says that he might have met her briefly but would not have recognised her. (AUDIO: Parasite)
  • Andy says that Norton and Lyme were an item when they last met. (AUDIO: Parasite)
  • Lizbeth mentions her sister, Margaret. (AUDIO: Madam, I'm)

External links[]

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