23 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mark Wright and Cavan Scott

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 31st October 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd November 2011

“The day of my death started normally enough...”

As opening lines go it's rather hard to come up with a more intriguing one, particularly when this Companion Chronicle delivers what its title promises.

UNIT is anticipating the return of the Doctor, and the Brigadier is not happy that he is late. Jo Grant on the other hand, hopes the Doctor has not forgotten her now that he has regained control of the TARDIS, but sure enough the Doctor returns and he is not alone. He has rescued a persecuted Alien refugee, one whose race, the Zoanthrax will not give up the search for her easily.

The Zoanthrax attack UNIT HQ, and as the Doctor lays down ready to die, Jo will demonstrate her loyalty to the man she is prepared to die for. A noble sacrifice; A sacrifice that will occur again, and again and again.

This is a story about the nature of Jo Grant and her feelings toward the Doctor. Jo is someone who completely believes in the Doctor. His presence in the Universe, to her, is far more important than her own life. A strong opening sequence sets this theme in motion brilliantly, but after that the drama starts to become sadly somewhat repetitive. This is ironic considering that the play wears its intent on its sleeve. 

What follows are a series of similar scenarios, all linked by a single character called Rowe who appears in many guises throughout and is integral to the final revelation at the play’s conclusion. Jo sacrifices herself many times, in a variety of even more bizarre life threatening situations. Throughout the listener is dropped dramatically into the each story that the peril becomes sadly redundant. But that seems harsh to judge the play by that since this is more of a character study of Jo than an adventure.

You might think that a character, so ready to die for the Doctor might get a bit tiresome but in the hands of the glorious Katy Manning, Jo Grant remains one of the finest companions in Doctor Who history. Manning’s performance here is the strongest part of the release and well worth checking out for that alone. Nicholas Ashbury is excellent playing the various guises of Rowe throughout, and is particularly brilliant in the story’s conclusion.

But overall, the story doesn’t quite hang together fully with its many threads and scenarios, but nonetheless, The Many Deaths of Jo Grant is a good listen and makes this reviewer want to hear more of Katy Manning in the Chronicles.

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