Coming June 6th…

Coming June 6th…
The Mercy Chair
"John Banks is one of the UK's most prolific audiobook narrators, working for the likes of Big Finish, Audible, Random House and Games Workshop.

He is a true multi-voice, creating everything from monsters to marauding aliens.

He is also an accomplished stage and TV actor." 2018


...I'm John Banks - welcome to my website.

The majority of my working life has been spent in the theatre with companies including
York Theatre Royal, Cheltenham Everyman, Sheffield Crucible, Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange and the National Theatre in London.

Television work includes Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and 'Allo, Allo!'. I have also worked on a number of radio drama and comedy productions with the BBC.

Since March 2009, I have enjoyed playing a huge variety of characters in more than 270* audio-drama stories with Big Finish Productions, together with The Black Library/Games Workshop, details of which can be found in the postings below.

There are also details listed here of the 214* audio books & stories I've recorded since March 2013,
including the unabridged New Revised Standard Version of The Bible, for companies including, Hachette, Audible Studios, Podium Audio Publishing, HarperCollins, RNIB, W.F. Howes, Little Brown Group, Penguin Random House, Games Workshop, Orion, Fantom Films & Ladbroke Audio.

(*figures at April 2021)

I hope you find something of interest here and come back soon for further updates.

For all posts, reviews and audio samples, please scroll down...

The Runewar Saga: Book 2

The Runewar Saga: Book 2
The Crown of Fire & Fury

The Botanist

The Botanist
Washington Poe Series: Book 5

Skaven Deathmaster

The Babel Books

The Babel Books
The Fall of Babel - click image above for link to audible

Doctor Who: Back To Earth

Throne of Light: Dawn of Fire Book 4

Throne of Light: Dawn of Fire Book 4
Release Date: 13th November 2021

Soul Wars

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Monday 22 December 2014

Doctor Who: Trial of The Valeyard

And finally for this year and almost exactly a year since it was first released as a subscriber bonus download, the CD version of Trial of The Valeyard has now been released from Big Finish Productions.

There is some evil in all of us – even the Doctor. Transported aboard the Time Lords' orbiting courtroom, the Doctor once again encounters the Valeyard, an amalgamation of the darker sides of his nature. This time, however, the Doctor isn't in the dock. This time, the Valeyard is the defendant, accused of a crime so terrible that the presiding Inquisitor is forbidden to reveal it even to the court, nor even to his counsel for the defence… the Doctor.

If the Valeyard is found guilty, he'll be executed. Execute the Valeyard, and the secret of his origins dies with him. A secret that the Doctor is desperate to know… and which the Time Lords will stop at nothing to protect.
Colin Baker The Doctor   Michael Jayston The Valeyard   Lynda Bellingham The Inquisitor

 John Banks The Hermit

Written by Alan Barnes and Mike Maddox
Directed by Barnaby Edwards 

* * * * *

And just to round off this late December posting, I would like to thank you for dropping by to visit my weblog this year and I very much hope you'll come back again in 2015, when there'll hopefully be some more interesting stuff to look at! 

In the meantime, may I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

Friday 12 December 2014

The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

Yo-ho-ho! Christmas has come early for me this year; indeed, after months of anticipation (mine at least!), the latest Holmes adventure is now available, The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes.

 Sherlock Holmes had many secrets. This is the greatest of them.

Our knowledge of the life and career of Mr Sherlock Holmes is necessarily partial and inexact. Riddled with lacunae and ambiguities, its parameters are defined chiefly by what his friend and colleague, Dr John Watson, saw fit to record. 

One era in particular – those enigmatic years in which, believed dead at the Reichenbach Falls, the Great Detective roved the world incognito – has been shrouded in obscurity and doubt, the particulars of that time too terrible and too strange to be set down in full.

At least, that is, until now…

Part One: Poppyland
It is October, 1921. Dr John Watson, now almost seventy, has accustomed himself to a life of retirement. He is surprised, then, to encounter his old friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes, rising out of the early evening mist like a wraith. There are things they have to discuss, he says, matters from the distant past. It is important, he says, that Watson hears at last a full account of what happened to Holmes during his years away from England when, believed by the world to be dead following his battle with Professor Moriarty, he travelled incognito overseas…

Part Two: At the Gates of Shambhala
1892. At the heart of Tibet, a world away from London, where a grieving Dr Watson is battling demons of his own, stands an ancient monastery, abandoned for generations but now the source of rumours of the most peculiar and terrible kind. For strangers have lately invaded this place and pressed it into service for their dark schemes. Those who dwell nearby have come to live in fear and sorrow. What good fortune, then, that a certain noted Norwegian explorer should happen to have found himself in the vicinity…

Part Three: The Man in the Moonlight
Mr Sherlock Holmes is the kind of man whom it is practically impossible to imagine ever having been a child, so fixed and set is his nature. Yet even he was once an infant, his childhood as fraught with peril as his adult life. That time, long past, still haunts him – one element most of all, the figure of a stranger, standing without and gazing upwards, his thin, pale face haloed by moonlight.

  Part Four: The Tragedy of Pargetter Square
Here is where it ends: with a murderer in Pargetter Square, with the detective and a tyrant come face to face in Baker Street, with desperate ambition and wickedness incarnate, with an assassin’s bullet and with old friends working, unknowingly, as one.

Yet what is an ending if not a beginning by a different name?

 Nicholas Briggs Sherlock Holmes - Sherrinford Holme  Richard Earl Dr Watson  
John Banks Inspector Lestrade - Colonel Sebastian Moran Tim Bentinck Mycroft Holmes  
Gemma Whelan Mary Watson Jemma Churchill Helena Eidelmann  
Terrence Hardiman Dr Esau Thorne Nicholas Chambers The Reverend Samuel Griffiths 
Joannah Tincey Miss Jessica Hendrick Dai Tabuchi Dorje  
David Killick Lord Colney, The Earl of Pettigree

Written by Jonathan Barnes
Directed by Ken Bentley  

December 21st update: an extract from today's SFcrowsnest review:

" John Banks is multi-tasking, both as the superb Lestrade and also the villainous and no doubt moustache twirling Sebastian Moran. They sound completely different and I bow to his talent."

" This is rapidly turning into appointment audio with this release eagerly awaited by fans and hopefully new listeners. If you haven’t jumped yet then you really should."

Sue Davies

The full review can be read by following this link: SFcrowsnest: The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

December 18th update: an extract from today's Sci-Fi Bulletin review:

" Director Ken Bentley has assembled a very strong cast alongside Briggs and Earl – who both excel in this, displaying passionate sides to their characters that shake the speakers. John Banks as Lestrade and Tim Bentinck’s Mycroft are great foils for Earl, while Gemma Whelan gives us a very feisty Mary Watson; Jemma Churchill, Terrence Hardiman, Nicholas Chambers, Joannah Tincey, Dai Tabuchi and David Killick all play to the melodramatic nature of the story without ever letting it go over the top (I’m deliberately not talking further about their characters so as not to spoil the many twists!). 

There’s a cinematic scope to the story, and Jamie Robertson’s sound design ensures that even with the quick cutting that the script requires, we’re never unsure where we are (unless that’s the point!).

You’ll have to listen to this to understand how and why it qualifies as Sci-Fi Bulletin territory – but I can’t wait for the sequel which promises to be more terrifying than a certain spectral hound… "

Verdict: Another triumph for Briggs, Earl and the team. 10/10

Paul Simpson

The full review can be read by following this link:  Sci-Fi Bulletin: The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

Sunday 7 December 2014

Let's do the time warp again...

And so, December; almost the end of another year - hard to believe I know. But there are still a few surprises before 2014 shuffles off its immortal coil. Where to start?

Perhaps I should start by mentioning the Big Finish releases from last month that I'm still working my way through and in the case of Sins of The Saviours, the fifth story in the Pathfinder Legends series, Rise of The Runelords, still waiting to receive. I think it fair to say that Nev Fountain's Sixth Doctor adventure, The Widow's Assassin has divided critical opinion and for a number of reasons; those who have heard it appear to either love it or hate it. From a personal point of view, having now listened to the story several times, I think I like it very much.

One of the reasons for listening to the recordings I've been involved with, apart from a general interest in the story, is to assimilate the merits or otherwise of my own performance. I see it as a significant part of my job to understand how whatever medium I happen to be working in actually functions from a technical, as well as an 'artistic' perspective. I'd like to think that experience contributes to greater understanding and the subsequent ability to do a better job.With that in mind, I have to say that I'm quietly pleased with The Widow's Assassin. Of the characters I played, I'm particularly 'relieved' with how Baron Pteratrark has turned out. This is Nev's description of the character, cut and pasted from the script: "BARON PTERATRARK: Feathered aristocrat. Mid-East European accent."

So that was the starting point; the rest of the 'characterisation' was up to me, with of course, the approval of Nev and director Ken Bentley. What 'pleased' me about the final performance was that I thought the character worked in the context of the style of the story and technically, what I could hear on listening to the finished production was very close to what I was trying to achieve in the studio. I apologise if any of this sounds egotistical, I simply mean that in this particular instance, there was technically very little compromise between aspiration and achievement. Hope that makes sense and doesn't sound too self-aggrandising!

The fact that Guard 1 and Guard 2 turned out to be Welsh (!), was entirely down to Andrew Dickens, who mentioned the idea to me very enthusiastically when we met in the green room on the first morning of recording. Nev and Ken were happy to go along with the suggestion, as indeed was I and I think Andrew's idea worked very well. I also enjoyed the Blakes's 7 story, Retribution, written by that very clever fellow, Andrew Smith. Some commentators have generously suggested that the character I played, Ragnus Lang, might be featured in future Blake's 7 adventures; I do hope so, he was great fun to play and I'd love the opportunity to have further outings with him. As I mentioned above, Sins of The Saviours hasn't arrived yet, so I can't comment on it and much as I'm looking forward to listening to Dark Eyes 3, I haven't yet had time to get round to it - the last few months have been very busy!

So what's been going on? Well, lots of time spent in various recording studios, including a number of Big Finish adventures, none of which I can talk about at the moment of course and also quite a bit of time spent recording a couple of audio books. The first book was recorded for the RNIB Talking Books Service and was an unabridged version of Alwyn W. Turner's chronicle of the 1990's, A Classless Society. Last week, I had great fun recording Esther Freud's novel Mr Mac and Me for W.F. Howes Ltd at SNK Studios. Here are some details:

It is 1914, and Thomas Maggs, the son of the local publican, lives with his parents and sister in a village on the Suffolk coast. He is the youngest child, and the only son surviving. Life is quiet - shaped by the seasons, fishing and farming, the summer visitors, and the girls who come down from the Highlands every year to gut and pack the herring.

Then one day a mysterious Scotsman arrives. To Thomas he looks for all the world like a detective, in his black cape and hat of felted wool, and the way he puffs on his pipe as if he's Sherlock Holmes. Mac is what the locals call him when they whisper about him in the inn. And whisper they do, for he sets off on his walks at unlikely hours, and stops to examine the humblest flowers. He is seen on the beach, staring out across the waves as if he's searching for clues. But Mac isn't a detective, he's the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and together with his red-haired artist wife, they soon become a source of fascination and wonder to Thomas.

Yet just as Thomas and Mac's friendship begins to blossom, war with Germany is declared. The summer guests flee and are replaced by regiments of soldiers on their way to Belgium, and as the brutality of war weighs increasingly heavily on this coastal community, they become more suspicious of Mac and his curious behaviour.

In this tender and compelling story of an unlikely friendship, Esther Freud paints a vivid portrait of a home front community during the First World War, and of a man who was one of the most brilliant and misunderstood artists of his generation. It is her most beautiful and masterful work.

Esther came to the studio on Wednesday to say hello and to see how recording was coming along. It was lovely to meet her, although I was naturally concerned that she might not approve of how I was performing her book. Esther and producer Paul Kent went off to listen to samples of the book we'd already recorded and about an hour later, both emerged to the green room and much to my relief, Esther said how much she had enjoyed the story so far and made number of helpful and generous comments which gave Paul and me quite a boost. Unlike Big Finish, publishing companies don't usually provide contributor copies of recordings and, as I enjoyed this story so much, I'll just have to wait until it's released and buy a copy. Then I can start the process of analysing the disparity between aspiration and achievement all over again! 

All that has gone, but what is to come?

Well ok, this month's audio releases from Big Finish, in which I have some involvement, include: Doctor Who: Trial of The Valeyard and the epic new Holmes box-set, The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes.

A subscriber bonus download edition of Valeyard was released about this time last year and now the CD version is about to become available. We recorded the story back in May 2013 and I hope its release now will serve as a fitting tribute to the talent of Lynda Bellingham, who, as most people I'm sure will know, sadly passed away in October.

Valeyard was the only time I had the pleasure of working with Lynda and she was so full of enthusiasm and energy. Lynda faced her illness with incredible courage and dignity and I remember our time together very fondly.

Lynda Bellingham

* * * * *

Last month, I posted a trailer for The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes and here is another opportunity to see Big Finish's 'making of' feature:

I'll post further details of the series at a later date, but in the meantime, it probably goes without saying, that I'm very much looking forward to listening to both forthcoming releases!

As well as having a busy time with Big Finish and the audio-book recordings, I've also been doing the voice over for a corporate documentary film which is unfortunately all a bit secret, so, apart from mentioning that I'm still in the process of recording it, there's absolutely nothing else I can say about it!

What I can happily and fully mention, to round of this fairly epic posting, is that my good friends over at Tarquin Productions, Artistic Director Benji Sperring and for this event, Producer Rachel Illingworth, are about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their World Premier on-stage of the musical Shock Treament, written by Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien.

"Not a sequel, not a prequel, but an equal to  
The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

The production will take place next April at The King's Head Theatre in Islington.

SHOCK TREATMENT – The World Stage Premiere of the Equal-Sequel to Richard O’Brien’s world-

Brad and Janet, the perfect young everyday couple from cult classic THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW are back, but this time they’re not fighting transsexual aliens in a world of B-Movies. We join them as they are sucked into the world of TV Media, where bleach-white teeth and immaculate make-up are the warpaint, the studio audience are the crowds baying for blood, and people will stop at literally nothing to get the ratings through the roof.

Come and join us in Denton’s most break-neck TV studio and watch as two innocent lovebirds are torn apart by the talons of TV executive Farley Flavors, whose new television show Faith Factory will guarantee that at least one person is going to receive the shock of their life. As Doctors-and-Nurses fever takes hold of the studio, will Brad and Janet be able to escape, or will they forever be trapped behind the controlling powers of the exploitative – yet oddly charismatic – brother and sister pairing of TV Doctors Cosmo and Nation McKinley? Make sure that you tune in at the Kings Head Theatre during April to find out…

With music by Richard Hartley and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, SHOCK TREATMENT brings together the creative power of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and presents a stunning score full of songs that make you want to get up and join in with the action – and in some cases, this might be exactly what happens! Add to that Jim Sharman’s original book, now adapted for the stage by Tom Crowley, and the laughs – and shocks – come thick and fast.

After the sleeper 1981 cult movie, SHOCK TREATMENT is brought to the stage for the very first time by director Benji Sperring and Tarquin Productions, whose recent work includes the world premiere of Ivor Novello’s final musical VALLEY OF SONG (“Ideal” – Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph) and the centenary production of THE IMMORTAL HOUR (“brave and intriguing…tantalising” – Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph).

So, bring your lab coat and stethoscope, check your blood pressure, and prepare to play doctors and nurses as SHOCK TREATMENT takes over the airwaves - and your life!

Yesterday, Benji, Rachel and me got together with our great pal John Silke, to record the Kickstarter  campaign film, which was indeed a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon as I tried to give my best 'Charles Gray'. Once John has edited the film, we can do a little more work on the sound design and hopefully get the Kickstarter campaign off to a flying start! Here's a photo, which Rachel took yesterday, of Benji, cameraman John and me - taking it easy in a comfy chair!

Casting of the show has yet to be finalised, but I should mention that tickets are selling very fast and several performances might already be sold out - do get in touch with the box office at The King's Head to avoid disappointment! Click on this link:

Shock Treatment at The King's Head Theatre 


...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Dalek Universe 2

Kragnos Broken Realms

Age of Sigmar Dominion

The Moggotkin of Nurgle

Kragnos Broken Realms

Dawn of Fire Book 1: Avenging Son

The Lore of Direchasm


A C'tan Shard Rises 3

Indomitus: Necrons 2

A Lord Among the Stars 1

Angels of Death Preview


Psychic Awakening

Warcry: Death or Glory

Warhammer 40,000

Flight. Redefined.

Reviews & comments:

The Malazan Empire

Over the course of this 8 book series, the amazing John Banks has had to create and voice 648 distinct characters!

Neil Gardner - producer

The Door In The Wall & War of The Worlds

Not often I buy another version of an audiobook I own, but after hearing John Banks' narration of The Door in the Wall by Ladbroke Audio, I had to buy their version of The War of the Worlds. Banks has a great reading voice.

Andy Frankham-Allen - writer

The Books of Babel: Senlin Ascends, Arm of The Sphinx & The Hod King

Mr. Banks does superb work, and I recommend the audiobooks wholeheartedly!

Josiah Bancroft - writer

Mervyn Stone: The Axeman Cometh

John Banks is a voice genius...

Nev Fountain - writer

Mervyn Stone... played by the note-perfect John Banks.

Matt Hills - Reviews in Time and Space

Dr. Who: The Sleeping City

I also must draw attention to John Banks who is an exceptional voice artist and in this one story performs more characters that I can count. ... it is listening to episodes like this one that really do let his talents shine through.

Tony Jones - Red Rocket Rising


...playing several parts, was the brilliant Big Finish regular John Banks - it was as if there were about 40 different actors in the other booth.

James Moran - writer

I went for the best of the best and brought in voice artiste extraordinaire John Banks.

Paul Spragg - producer


...also features the mind - bogglingly versatile and reliable John Banks

Jonathan Morris - writer

Dead Funny:

The acting is first rate… wonderfully played by John Banks as Richard – his impersonation of Eric Morecambe is worth the admission money alone.

Beverly Greenberg: Bolton Evening News

Mr. Happiness:

This early and unfamiliar play by David Mamet is a character study of a 1930s radio counsellor, dispensing suave advice to his devoted listeners. John Banks brings out the wry comedy of this – comedy quite unappreciated by the character – with a clever range of gesture and vocal tone.

Jeremy Kingston: The Times

All My Sons:

This is a beautifully crafted piece ...and it affords a wonderful opportunity for John Readman* to do his All-American Boy act as Chris Keller. This most polished and well observed performance as the blighted son of a blighted father must rank as one of his finest accomplishments yet. ( * see Profile)

The Stage

The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes

Kudos should also go to John Banks. Lestrade can be a thankless part, but Banks rose to the challenge, playing a pivotal role in this decades long arc.

Raissa Devereux - SciFiPulse

The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

John Banks is multi-tasking, both as the superb Lestrade and also the villainous and no doubt moustache twirling Sebastian Moran. They sound completely different and I bow to his talent.

Sue Davies - SFcrowsnest

Further reviews and comments are included with specific postings throughout the site.

The War Doctor

The War Doctor
December 2015