19 January 2013

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Marc Platt

RRP: £8.99 (CD) / £7.99 (Download)

Release Date: January 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 19th January 2013

The TARDIS materializes in Spain in the late sixteenth century. The country is at war with England – and the travellers find themselves on the wrong side of the battle lines.

When Ian and his new friend Esteban are captured by the Inquisition, the Doctor, Susan and Barbara plan to rescue them.

But these are dark days in human history. And heretics face certain death...

* * *

It makes sense that the first release from Big Finish for the Fiftieth anniversary year would be a First Doctor story. What makes The Flames of Cadiz an extra special release is that it is a four part adventure which is magnificently performed by two of the original TARDIS crew.

The Flames of Cadiz deals with the perils of time travel and interference in the course of history. It is also a study of opposing sides. In the story we have Catholics against Protestants and the warring factions of Spain and England. Both of the opposing sides are not shown to be positive as one is just as ruthless and fanatical as the other. Platt uses our heroes to examine this in relation to time travel when The Doctor accuses Ian and Barbara of sabotaging the timeline to provide a positive outcome for their country in the upcoming battle with the Spanish Armada.

Marc Platt has crafted a story which very much echoes the historical stories of Doctor Who’s early years whilst being both entertaining and thought provoking. Platt knows The First Doctor well, having written many incarnations of the character in different media. He gets the grumpiness and the distrust between him and his companions spot on. The Doctor is flawed, making mistakes and getting things wrong, setting off a catastrophic set of events into motion out of anger. It harks back to those early years when we didn’t know just who The Doctor was and what he wanted.

William Russell and Carole Ann Ford deliver excellent performances as Ian and Susan, both picking up the narrative parts of their story with ease but for me it is Russell who is the star of the show. I have said in past reviews that we are lucky to have William Russell continuing to play Ian Chesterton and as we head into this Anniversary year I stand by this even more so.

The story is a little long and it could quite easily have been edited down into two parts but the thoughtful pace and the comic and reflective moments would have been a casualty.

The Flames of Cadiz is well worth your time and a lovely example of that era fifty years ago.

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