Takeover Ad
Takeover Ad
12 July 2023

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Robert Valentine

RRP: £10.99 (CD) | £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2023

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online

The Time War. The Doctor has been injured and brought to a Time Lord field hospital. His body glows with energy, but this is no regeneration into a future form – instead, the Doctor’s past faces begin to appear as he flits haphazardly between incarnations...

Staggering to his TARDIS, the Doctor sets out to solve the mystery of his ‘degeneration’. Who has done this to him? How? And why? From the Earth to the stars, across an array of familiar times and places, he follows clues to retrace his steps, encountering old friends and enemies along the way. Tumbling through his lives, the Doctor must stop his degeneration before he loses himself completely...

Settling as his Fourth incarnation, the Doctor goes in search of the Monk, with a vague memory that he had something to do with his ‘degeneration’.

On Earth, the Monk is meddling, bringing Sarah Jane Smith to the future UNIT HQ to steal a device for an alien race. The Doctor must help Kate Stewart and Osgood foil an invasion before he can confront the Monk about what he knows...

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

Big Finish’s 60th anniversary party has officially begun! Past Lives is the first of an eight-part audio celebration of Doctor Who’s Diamond Anniversary - featuring most of the Doctors!

This month’s offering sees Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor reunite with Sarah Jane as he crosses paths with Kate Stewart, Osgood, and The Meddling Monk.

We’re thrown straight into the action as the Doctor begins degenerating on a Time War battlefield. He then runs back to his TARDIS, jumping between incarnations as he does so in a really fun sequence. There’s no messing about, we’re quite literally thrown straight into the action - something I always appreciate. 

With the Doctor temporarily stabilised in the form of his fourth incarnation, he’s immediately after the Meddling Monk. Their ensuing game of cat and mouse is a lot of fun - and Rufus Hound is brilliant. His version of the Monk is by far the most entertaining for me. 

Also in this adventure are Kate Stewart and Osgood, played by Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver. Hearing them interact with Tom Baker’s Doctor is just a delight. I wasn’t sure how UNIT, Kate, and Osgood were going to fit into this adventure, which already has a hell of a lot going on in it, but they get a lot of “screen time” and have their own time to shine. 

Unfortunately, Sarah Jane - played by Sadie Miller - does not. She feels a bit surplus to the plot here, which is a shame. The Sarah we meet in Past Lives has quite literally just been dropped off in Aberdeen by the Doctor. It might be just me, but having the Doctor and Sarah reunite so soon after her exit undercuts the emotional ending of The Hand of Fear (for Sarah at least). I didn’t really feel the emotional reunion between Sarah and the Doctor here, as a result. Sadie Miller is great in the role though, as always. It just feels like Big Finish came up with the idea of this adventure by drawing a bunch of random characters out of a hat and sticking them together (which can be a lot of fun, of course). With so much going on, one character had to pull the short straw, and it was Sarah this time.

Also, the armoured dragon warrior creatures seen on the front of the box - the Hyreth - just aren’t utilised enough to be that much of a threat here. Maybe if this drama had been longer they’d have had more time to shine, but they just feel a bit like the monster of the week unfortunately. 

Those are my only criticisms though. The rest of the adventure is a great ride and leaves me really wanting more. I enjoyed the performances of all the cast - in particular Rufus Hound’s - and really enjoyed the almost anachronistic feel of having Tom Baker’s Doctor interacting with Kate and Osgood in the 2010s. 

This definitely does feel like a part one of something much bigger - a taste of what’s to come. Robert Valentine’s script zips along at a hell of a pace, never really letting up from minute one. The hour or so truly flies by. In fact, I was a little surprised - and disappointed - it had ended so seemingly early. 

Overall, It’s a nice, fun adventure to kick off the eight-part Once And Future story and left me really looking forward to whatever comes next (Fifth Doctor, Jenny, and Colin Baker as the Curator, to be exact). Also, there are plenty many callbacks and cameos, as is fitting of an anniversary adventure. You won’t be disappointed on that front. 

It’s certainly whet my appetite for the rest of Big Finish’s 60th anniversary celebrations! 

+  1. Once And Future: Past Lives is OUT NOW, priced £10.99 (CD) | £8.99 (D/L).

+  ORDER this title from Big Finish!

RSS Feed
News Key
News Home
The New Series
The Classic Series
Blog Entries
Reviews Key
Reviews Home
Books / Magazines
DVD / Blu-ray
Toys / Other
TV Episodes

Retro Tees