4.88 out of 5
(8 reviews)
Published on: November 15, 2016


“First they know you, then you love, then you kill…”

Incubation – Prodromal – Invasion

A medical trial’s gone terribly wrong, and one of the test subjects is loose on the streets of Cardiff. Within hours a virus is raging out of control and the bodies start piling up.

The Government scrambles to control the outbreak, but isn’t too keen on anyone finding out the dark history of the virus. Captain Jack Harkness has encountered the infection before and knows that something alien is hiding inside it.

With the city sealed off and murderous mobs rampaging through the streets, Torchwood has to save something even more important than the human race.

Additional information


AK Benedict, Emma Reeves, Guy Adams


Andy Davidson, Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Norton Folgate, Rhys Williams

Content warnings

Domestic abuse, Self-harm


Scott Handcock

Episode timeline





Big Finish – Special Releases


Gwen Cooper/Rhys Williams, Ianto Jones/Jack Harkness, Jack Harkness/Norton Folgate

Series timeline

Between series 2 and 3


Audio drama

Related fanworks



8 reviews for Outbreak

  1. Estelle

    Probably my favourite audio (as of late 2019)!

    The story is more a Children of Earth type of story (large scale problem that affects everyone) than a monster-of-the-week series 1 or 2 episode. It has a tight gripping plot, made even better by great editing and sound production. Like in Children of Earth, how governments answer to a crisis is key to the story. It makes you question what the line between safety and freedom should be…and how you can truly make that choice if you don’t have all the information (or are lied to).

    In this large scale story, characters and relationships shine. From often discarded Andy to larger-than-life Jack, all protagonists are portrayed spot-on by both the script and the actors. Andy is adorable, Rhys is a national treasure, Norton is…Norton in the best possible way, Jack is competent yet cheeky and the way Gwen and Ianto each get to the location of the dénouement illustrates the personality of each one perfectly.
    And all the relationships – may they be romantic relationships, friendships…or with Norton – are remarkably well-written and in line with how I see them. To me, they are the highlights of an already outstanding audio drama.

    Captivating plot, great performances, wonderfully-portrayed relationships…I love it all!

  2. Louise

    Very good in all fronts, just be warned about the various body noises (lots of intense scratching).

  3. Dina

    The sound effects get zero stars because wow. They are intense. But they work really well within this story, which is tense and chilling and funny and sad. There’s a wonderful range of emotion in it. Rhys and Gwen were really great, and although I haven’t listened to his other audios, Norton Folgate was a gem.
    That said, this was a pretty intense story. I don’t like virus stories or ones that call back a lot to Ianto’s mortality – in the sense that sometimes I just can’t handle that sort of emotion for several hours. But I got in the mood and I listened, and I did not regret it one bit! Would I call it a must-have? …yeah, I think so.

  4. janto-owns-my-soul

    Outbreak is a masterpiece. That’s really the only word for it. This is a 3 part box set, set between series 2 and 3. Jack and Ianto’s relationship is established and it’s handled nicely throughout. Plenty of Janto goodness and a healthy does of Gwen and Rhys being adorable and in love. The addition of Norton Folgate adds an extra bit of sass and he and Ianto compete to see who can be the campest one in the room. Full of laughs, drama, and even romantic in it’s own way.

  5. Alicia Jasmine

    I love love this audio so much! I love how it shows more of Gwen and Ianto’s dynamic. The banter between them and Gwen’s concern for him when they’re separated. It does a GREAT job of showcasing Jack and Ianto’s relationship. It will either make you cry or want to cry. Also, Rhys being ride-or-die for Gwen by risking his own life! This audio also shows how much the Torchwood Trio love each other. The plot is also interesting and was my introduction to the character of Norton Folgate, who immediately stood out to me.

  6. Xandra7e

    I’m really impressed how they pulled off such a huge story of 3 hours and it didn’t let go of it’s relentless pace for even a second. While I love the monthly range… when you have only one hour you are a bit limited and focus either on story or on character. Here they had plenty of time for both. All of the characters really shine in Outbreak and all of the actors did a terrific job. And Big Finish did an outstanding job with the sound effects. This really felt like a big blockbuster movie most of the time!
    It would be great if they could do more stories that are set between Season 2 and 3. My favorite of the discs is Disc 02. BF really took their time for the scenes with Jack and Ianto, something the TV show almost never did. I really, really want more of that! Also the scenes with Gwen and Ianto during Disc 01 by the way – we never had that on TV at all.
    At one point the story switches between the now and the past and I really liked how they showed that in an audio without weird effects and all. It was easy to understand when is when. And kudso to John Barrowman for those scenes. I think they are the best he ever did on audio.

  7. Jay

    This story is such a good mini series of Torchwood. Love the inclusion of Norton, as well as the themes throughout. One of the best releases !

  8. Anonymous

    Incubation – Know
    After the brilliant Believe, I was incredibly excited for this release, and this first episode lives up to the hype, establishing a credible threat with a lot of mystery that currently may hit a little too close to home…

    I enjoy the subversion of Jack’s mystery – Usually, when he knows what’s going on, he’s off to sort it himself, but here he’s more involved with the team, investigating and making sure everyone is as safe as possible, leading to him sealing the Hub off. I enjoy hearing John Barrowman play a more active role, as he’s a very busy actor, he’s often pushed to the side, but here Jack is at the forefront of the investigation, and the reveal at the end that he’s been infected is an incredibly tense cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see how his story continues. I think it’ll be interesting to explore more of Ianto’s dynamic with an infected Jack, so it was a good idea to isolate Gwen from them at the end. I enjoy how grumpy Ianto is, getting a little jealous that Jack’s getting off with a space octopus, and he’s still sort of getting used to being in the field full-time again without Owen and Tosh which leads to many humorous interactions. Eve Myles hasn’t been in many pre-Miracle Day audios, I believe that, chronologically, her first was Believe, so this is in fact her second appearance for me on audio, and there’s a very different take on her character, which does tie in with her arc in the main show – She continually tries to tie the real world into the alien, such as bringing a book to wait and her multiple phone calls to Rhys feeling incredibly realistic and helps the listener to feel more engaged with these characters. I like that she has the instinct to escape and is on her own at the end, it’ll be interesting to see how she fares without the support of her team for once.

    There’s not much of a present alien threat, but I love how the danger is established by showing the effect of this contagion across Cardiff, with lots of different people being affected by it, wreaking havoc on the city. Without even showing what this monster is, there’s a lot of stakes built up as chaos ensues. Jack’s interactions with the growing conspiracy help with this, as Frances’ control over the situation seems very unsettling in comparison to the protagonists’ role in the episode, and I love how the clues are seeded throughout the story to help setup enigma, and I can’t wait to see how they develop.

    I think the setting works so well to help create a real, serious threat. The extent of the contagion spreading across Cardiff so quickly utilises relatable events to help the listener understand the stakes more, with bus crashes and panic at the police station leading to a very quick blockade from the Army around Cardiff – If only they sorted something out that quickly a year ago. Each setting helps to create a strong, grounded and powerful image of events that feels credible and develops more of the story effectively.

    Rhys’ role in this episode is very well done, showing the effect of the blockade from the other side, creating a more lived-in world that we’re able to experience more than one perspective. I really enjoy Kai Owen’s performance in this, he’s so much fun, and I love his eagerness to get involved with the action to help look after Gwen, I’m really excited to see how he tries to sneak inside. We get to see more of Jack and Andy’s relationship, which is interesting, as I think he sees Jack as a role model, yet everything he does in the police station gives Andy more trouble. Despite this, he continues to be the action hero, fighting any threat, but maintains a relatable nervousness that any listener would understand. Luke’s erratic nature, as patient zero, creates a strong concern as to how this contagion will grow and worsen over the next few episodes.

    The sound design is very good – the constant scratching is so uncomfortable and incredibly unsettling, which helps to establish a darker environment, and helps to reflect the characters’ position effectively. The musical cues are pretty strong as well, with lots of engaging and interesting motifs to mirror the ongoing situation.

    The dialogue is a lot of fun, full of that Torchwood chaotic humour, but at the same time building up a bigger world which feels realistic.
    Favourite Line: “Tentacle p***!”
    “Ignore him, he’s in a mood.”

    I’m really excited to see how this story develops, it’s a great opener, with a lot of heart, an interesting premise and superb performances all around!

    Prodromal – Love
    While this takes a radically different approach to the opening episode, the more intimate nature is incredibly bittersweet.

    It’s very odd that the alternate cover for this episode features Gwen, yet there’s more focus on Jack and Ianto. I really enjoy the way that Jack is tortured into saying “I love you” to Ianto – It conveys a very poignant message, as the references to Jack’s life with 20th Century Torchwood reminds us of his immortality, and that he knows Ianto will die before him, and so he cannot bear to deal with that loss again, especially so soon after Tosh and Owen’s death. It’s something that Ianto will never understand, and so the way in which this declaration of love comes out pains him just as much, because he doesn’t realise how difficult it is for Jack to say this. I really do enjoy the parallels made with love and death in this episode, as often those who become to attached to Torchwood end up suffering, and the way in which this theme was explored felt incredibly powerful, and Ianto remarks upon this, being surprised that Norton Folgate managed to leave Torchwood of his own volition, rather than dying on the job. I love the pair’s interactions, it was great to meet Norton, since I know he does have a heavy role later on in Torchwood’s life (or is it earlier?), and his complexities, while humorous, creates a layered and interesting character and develops a strong contrast to the pure and innocent Ianto; I can’t wait to hear more from him. Gwen, like I said, isn’t involved much with the story, she spends most of the episode just running about Cardiff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it allows us more time to delve into Ianto and Jack’s dynamic. I think the cliffhanger with the reveal of Gwen being infected wasn’t as shocking as the first, but fits with the aesthetic of this episode more.

    I think it was a smart move to explore the threat on a more personal level, by exploring how it affects Jack after showing the chaos across Cardiff. This slower interpretation of the contagion has both pros and cons. Like I said, the personal touch helps the listener to understand the pain and uncomfort this is causing Jack, and forcing him into a position of vulnerability on this scale is incredibly rare, however it does feel like a step-down after the grandiose opening, as Cardiff was falling to pieces. Godalming’s limited time in this episode furthers the mystery surrounding her – Is there really a vaccine, or is it a secret plot against the people of Cardiff? If this story does end up being anti-vaccine, I will be incredibly disappointed.

    Again, the confinement to mainly the Torchwood Hub works to its advantage as well as creating a few flaws. It feels slower and dare I say, slightly boring, but at the same time, it is an accurate reflection of what it feels like to be quarantined with a present danger, and I appreciate the way it explores more of this setting, because it’s such a beautiful structure with so much potential. I enjoy that we get to see other features unseen in the TV series, such as Norton’s temporal projection machine and all the timey-wimey shenanigans accompanied with that, the vaults, and many other floors in, I presume, its last appearance before Children of Earth.

    Rhys is brilliant in this episode, yet again – He proves himself to be more than a worthy partner to Gwen, cleverly but slowly weaving his way into Cardiff in a fashion that both gives him the advantage but supports the ongoing crisis, clearing the roads and giving the military some assistance in their roadblock. I thought that Andy’s progression through the episode was very similar to Gwen’s in Day Two of Children of Earth, but of course, without Torchwood training, he is very easily bested, and heightens the stakes as we learn that the only known way to stop the virus is to burn the infected, but now Andy is one of them, becoming a hostage…

    The soundtrack wasn’t particularly memorable, but it reflected the claustrophobic, eerie vibe that Jack was exerting on Ianto fairly well.

    The dialogue was very beautiful – Due to the more intimate relationship between Jack and Ianto being explored, we got to see a further analysis of their thoughts on the relationship, and these fresh perspectives develop these already complex characters even more.
    Favourite Line: “Torchwood – Touching stuff we shouldn’t since 1879.”

    I do think that it is weaker, but this story was still very strong and necessary in the overall running of the series, and I love that this story spends time revelling in the ensemble cast that they have to work with.

    Invasion – Kill
    And as for the finale of the boxset, does it stick the landing? Not entirely…

    I enjoy that each episode focuses on a different aspect to Jack Harkness, but adding a unique twist to that aspect – Jack is often manipulative, scheming, knowing more than he lets on, but this time he’s doing it to get the advantage over his enemies rather than protecting those that he cares for. He’s been playing a long game with Norton, who’s also a rather shady person, and that dynamic is incredibly fascinating, much like the Doctor and the Master – you never know whether they’re working together or fighting each other. Ianto spends the majority of the episode roaming about sewers trying to get into Cardiff Castle, but when he finally gets involved with the action, he trusts Jack, and is just as scheming as him. Their final scene together was really sweet, and I love that, after everything they go through together, they get a chance to come out stronger, and show how much they care for one another. I’m surprised Rhys managed to survive being shot by Gwen – You would’ve thought that someone like her wouldn’t miss and hit him in the shoulder. Either she did have more control over herself and subconsciously fought back to make sure that she didn’t kill him, or she was so delirious that she managed to just miss. Again, her final scene with Rhys was very moving, fully grounding her back to normality as she proves that she only has affection for him and not Jack. I like that each character’s role in this episode is so in line with their arcs – Jack, as the action hero, is focused on fighting the main antagonist; Ianto, helping Luke to seek treatment and find his wife and clearing up after Jack’s craziness; Gwen, as the relatable character for the audience, leading a march for the people of Cardiff to get the vaccine – which goes incredibly wrong. The dynamic between the three at the end was marvellous, and while it feels emptier without Tosh and Owen, you can tell that the team all love each other so very much and don’t waste time expressing it now that they’ve lost two members.

    It was anti-vaccine? Come on, Big Finish, you’re better than this! I get that they tried to distinguish a clear contrast between the vaccine in this episode and real vaccines, but I don’t think it was done particularly well. It seems to just portray health services as the villain, with Heights Pharmaceuticals seeming to be doing this for power and wealth. I found the idea of Frances’ victimisation into becoming the villains via repeat experimentation and manipulation, I would’ve loved for the story to delve deeper into that, and explore the realisation that she’s just passing on what’s happened to her, and for her to come to her senses and, either help to stop her mistakes or have a direct consequence of her own experimentation be used against her – They do something similar, with a similar experiment taking her out, but I don’t feel like it has the same impact. However, Marilyn Le Conte’s performance is stunning – She manages to effortlessly capture a soulless, industrialist mind, perfectly clashing with the charismatic and bold Jack, and as their interactions continue, you start to see some more emotion come through as she learns of what has happened to her, and thus loses her power. I wonder if the people that experimented on her are the Committee – It’s never mentioned, but considering that Heights Pharmaceuticals are after Jack’s blood for the vaccine, and I’m pretty sure that they are the ones who stole it in Miracle Day, it’s a possibility.

    For a second, I thought that this episode was set in the same castle from I’m A Celebrity. Unfortunately, I did some research and that castle was in North Wales, whereas this, naturally, is set in Cardiff. I felt like I had to suspend my disbelief slightly, as they had created a vaccine and a testing centre incredibly quickly (took us a whole year to do that), but they did mention that they had been working on Invictus for a while so it’s a bit of a stretch, but not much. I like that the story explores the different entrances to the castle, with Jack going in as one of the infected, Gwen breaking through the front entrance and Ianto sneaking in from underneath, as it allows us to explore more of the castle grounds and the way different areas have been sectioned into research for a vaccine.

    It makes sense that Rhys, spending the last two episodes trying to get into Cardiff, wouldn’t be up to date with the situation, and doesn’t realise the danger he’s putting himself into by searching for Gwen. When he does, he doesn’t stop, because his wife is in danger, and he is willing to fight a crowd of ravenous, psychotic people to save her – That’s husband material right there! Andy’s delusions are a lot of fun, the stories he is involved with tend to be a lot darker and bordering on horror territory, so I like that the writers are allowing Tom Price to show off his acting skills, with a lot of range for him in this boxset. I was very surprised that Luke was still alive, and I do wonder if he was ever infected, or if he was just an asymptomatic carrier, and his urge to kill was due to the experiments he had done to him.

    The soundtrack was quite beautiful in the more emotional, character-driven scenes, but while there were a lot of exciting pieces of music for the action, I felt like the former category was stronger and more memorable overall.

    The dialogue was brilliant, spending a lot of time enjoying the larger cast and the interactions they have with each other, but it never gets in the way of telling the story, but rather helps to further that goal.
    Favourite Line: “Hiya, Gwen! It’s my birthday! …Would you like a balloon?”

    Overall, this release, while not as amazing as Believe, was still enjoyable. It had a few flawed messages, and the pacing was off at times, but the threat was credible, built up well, the performances from everyone was phenomenal and the tone of the story is incredibly serious and powerful.

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