Thursday, September 18, 2014


Last month, The Collinsport Historical Society asked you to name your five favorite DARK SHADOWS audio dramas from Big Finish. Every day this week we'll be revealing the results.

#2 The House by the Sea

Released in March 2012, “The House by the Sea” is one of the most recent DARK SHADOWS audio dramas to make “The Favorite Five,” it’s also the only episode not to feature any members of the original cast.

Former DOCTOR WHO Colin Baker played “Gerald Conway,” an Englishman attracted to Collinsport by an inexplicable compulsion. It’s almost a one-man show, a story told through Conway’s diary recordings as he meets the mysterious denizens of Collinsport, struggles with madness, and finally meets one of the town’s most notorious sorcerers.

“When James (Goss) and I took over the range, one of the first things he said he wanted to do was to write a single-hander for Colin Baker,” said Big Finish producer/writer Joe Lidster. “And so he did. And it’s brilliant. What I love about the script is how deceptively clever it is. James has a way of writing something that feels utterly simple.”

“‘The House by the Sea’ came up for three colliding reasons,” Goss said. “Colin Baker had expressed an interest in doing a DARK SHADOWS. The film was coming out and it seemed good to have a ‘Beginner's Guide To Collinsport.’ And finally, I was dying to write a one-man outsider's view of that crazy, crazy town.”

Colin Baker in DOCTOR WHO.
“You could mistake ‘The House by the Sea’ for just being all about atmosphere,” Lidster said. “It’s certainly got atmosphere. I remember how scary it was in the studio – thanks to James’s script and Colin’s amazing performance, but it’s not just a spooky ghost story. There are clues throughout as to where it’s going and the character of Gerald Conway is so nuanced and three-dimensional. When you add onto that David Darlington’s terrifying sound design, you get something really special. I genuinely think it’s one of the best pieces of drama I’ve ever heard.”

Because the character is recounting his experiences to the listener, it opened to door to allow for characters not usually depicted in the audio dramas. Big Finish has been resistant to recasting actors from the original series, which has meant characters played by actors and actress no longer with us – such as Grayson Hall, Joan Bennett and Joel Crothers – have not made appearances.

“The cameos just seemed a great way of introducing some characters we'd otherwise not get a chance to meet,” Goss said. “It was also a joy working with Colin Baker – he stormed through the script, barely needed a second take, stopped only for a quick bite of lunch and to check a YouTube clip to hone his version of someone's voice... just amazing.”

Because Baker was essentially “playing” all of the roles, it meant every character was fair game for ‘The House by the Sea.’ Including Barnabas Collins.

“That was the only bit that took some explaining to him, ’So, just to be clear, I'm NOT acting with Johnny Depp?’” Goss said.


Tracy Goodwin said...

Just a correction--this isn't the most recent audio to make the favorite five as you said here. Beyond the Grave is much more recent!

cynthia curran said...

Caleb is a ghost there. One of my favorite mention Dark Shadows characters.

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