Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions
Written By: Nicholas Briggs
RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)
Release Date: October 2013
Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online
Review Posted: 25th October 2013
November 23rd 1963 proves to be a significant day in the lives of all eight Doctors…
It's the day that Bob Dovie's life is ripped apart…
It's also a day that sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events which forces the first eight incarnations of the Doctor to fight for their very existence. As a mysterious, insidious chaos unfolds within the TARDIS, the barriers of time break apart…
From suburban England through war-torn alien landscapes and into a deadly, artificial dimension, all these Doctors and their companions must struggle against the power of an unfathomable, alien technology.
From the very beginning, it is clear that the Master is somehow involved. By the end, for the Doctors, there may only be darkness.
* * *
So here it is at last! The Light at the End is Big Finish’s tribute to the 50th anniversary of our favourite television show and was it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding YES!
The Light at the End is everything you could have hoped for from an anniversary story; multiple Doctors, many companions and a truly exciting story which celebrates the past fifty years with unashamed joy.
Unlike previous releases, Zagreus and The Four Doctors, we get to see all the Doctors interacting with each other throughout the whole story.
As with past multi Doctor stories there are the inevitable moments such as criticism of taste in fashion , differences of opinion on TARDIS decor and some squabbling. Writer Nicholas Briggs chooses to pair Doctors together before everyone eventually gets together for the final part of the story. This makes for some rather interesting team ups, especially when the Fourth and Eighth Doctor get together. Tom Baker and Paul McGann make a wonderful pairing and they play off each other to great comic effect. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy also make a brilliant pairing that is somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee from The Three Doctors, which creates some more wonderful moments.
One of the biggest surprises about the story is that all the classic Doctors make an appearance and I do mean all of them. How this is achieved I wouldn’t dream of spoiling by telling you but Big Finish must be commended for taking on such a risky and delicate matter and achieving a lovely tribute to those wonderful actors no longer with us.
The Light at the End surely must feature the largest cast of guest stars in any single Big Finish release. The cast includes many Companions of the past from Carole Ann Ford to the very welcome return of India Fisher and many more lovely surprises. Wisely, unlike other anniversary specials of the past, Briggs uses them in small but wonderful moments and little flashes of memory - it pulls at the fans’ heart strings and no one outstays their welcome.
The Companions themselves have a really great part to play but ultimately this is a story about The Doctor. That is not to say the companions are wasted; they play a really important part in the story and Ace’s descriptions of each of the Doctor’s incarnations is worth the purchase price itself.
The cast are on exceptional form and an extraordinary script makes this a top notch audio drama.
Briggs must be singled out for great praise. The Light at the End in the hands of a lesser writer could have been a mess. The temptation of an anniversary story is to succumb to all our fan dreams and fill the story with so many references, characters and monsters that the story is crushed under its own weight (I’m looking at you Dimensions in Time!). I take my hat off to Briggs for not only creating a superb script which serves all the Doctors and their legacy but for writing a cracking story in its own right.
Having The Master as the sole antagonist is a smart move on Brigg’s part, especially as he has been such an important part of The Doctor’s history. This choice of foe gives the story a clear sense of direction and enhances the impact of its message. We are reminded throughout just how important The Doctor is and the impact that he has on those around him and the Universe as a whole is inescapable.
Just as we are reminded that The Doctor has impacted on the lives of those he meets in his stories, so too are we reminded of the importance he has had to us as listeners. We wouldn’t be listening to this story if hehad not had an impact on us at some point in our lives. This is something that Briggs understands completely, as he is one of us; a true fan. He doesn’t just love the show, he truly understands what makes it important and it is this understanding that really shines through.
The Light at the End really is a wonderful tribute to the power of Doctor Who and its legacy and this is one release you really cannot be without.
Here’s to the next 50 years...