The second volume of Shilling and Sixpence Investigates finds Girls School headmistress Livonia Sixpence (Celia Emery) and English teacher Desmond Shilling (the late David Warner) once again up to their necks in mystery as the Second World War has begun. Several characters return and new ones emerge as they face a baffling mystery with multiple layers that leaves them unsure who they can trust—including each other.
The first Shilling and Sixpence release featured eight half-hourish episodes that formed four mysteries, most of which were interrelated and came together in the final story. Here, we have interlacing mysteries playing off each other from the word go, and I think that makes for a fascinating and involved story. The timing of the story is of particular interest, as it portrays Britain’s transition into war footing in 1939 and how characters adapt and change to it.
This story has more humor than the first box set, coming from some outlandish and over-the-top characters. In this case, it’s definitely a feature rather than a bug. The cast is really top-notch. Warner was well-known as a supremely talented character actor on both sides of the pond and Emery’s every bit his equal. The cast is also solid throughout including such solid professionals as Louise Jameson and Lisa Bowerman.
The script is mostly solid. There’s a lot going on but I don’t think the mystery crossed the line that separates complicated from convoluted. The pacing could be a bit uneven and not all the jokes landed, but this was still an overall solid outing and a great chance to hear one last performance from a truly remarkable actor.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Shilling and Sixpence Investigates Volume 2 is Exclusively at the Big Finish website.