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1 April 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: John Lloyd (adapted by Nev Fountain)

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: March 2021

Reviewed by: Robert Emlyn Slater for Doctor Who Online


"Earth - a small, insignificant planet. Entirely devoid of intelligent life. 

At least, that’s according to the legal documents. The Doctor, Romana, and K9 find themselves at the centre of the most unusual trial. 

An intergalactic corporation wants to bulldoze the planet for a development project. Only a previous court’s preservation document is standing in their way. The Doctor has been summoned as an expert witness. If he can prove Earth contains intelligent life, the whole world will be saved. 

But with a fortune at stake, it was never going to be that simple."

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

As a huge Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan, when I heard that this lost adventure by Hitchhiker’s partial co-writer John Lloyd, featuring one of my favourite classic TARDIS teams, was coming to Big Finish audios, it’s safe to say that I was very excited. Reading this month’s Doctor Who Magazine interview with Lloyd and finding out what was in store just increased my anticipation further, so I went into this play with very high hopes indeed. 

The Doomsday Contract was originally developed by TV comedy producer John Lloyd to be made as part of the show’s seventeenth season back in 1979. However, after being asked to rewrite it one too many times, Lloyd decided to give up on it and go to work on Not the Nine O’Clock News instead. Script editor Douglas Adams passed on the story to Allan Prior, however, his version of the story was also ultimately rejected, and eventually, after a stint spent in development hell, the story was cancelled and forgotten about. Until now, that is. 

Adapted by Nev Fountain, The Doomsday Contract is about the Doctor, Romana, and K-9’s holiday being cut short by a court summons. The case? To prove that the Earth does in fact contain intelligent life. If the Doctor fails, the planet will be bulldozed by an intergalactic corporation in the name of a development project, a plot point that is, of course, very reminiscent of a certain radio series by a certain Douglas Adams

However, in true Doctor Who style, things start to go a bit pear-shaped, and what was originally a simple courtroom drama quickly turns into a lot of running down corridors being chased by killer children, giant slugs, and what seem to be medieval peasants. Yes, you did read all of that correctly. 

As you would most likely expect, this is a very funny story. It is essentially Doctor Who meets Hitchhiker’s and is full of plot points, characters, and ridiculous anecdotes that you would find within the pages of a Douglas Adams novel. You can tell that John Lloyd was going for a Hitchhiker’s vibe with this adventure, and I’m glad to say it absolutely works. 

Although I found the first part of the story to be a little too slow for my liking, things definitely start to pick up a bit when the Children of Pyxis turn up, and never really let up until the court’s final judgement has been passed. 

As discussed in the behind-the-scenes feature (and in Lloyd’s interview with DWM) the Children of Pyxis were one of the elements that had to be dropped from his initial storyline due to the production team being less than keen to depict children with weapons on prime-time television. However, in this new version of the adventure, the juvenile assassins are reinstated as part of the story and make for menacing little baddies. There really isn’t anything creepier than killer children in my eyes. Especially killer children who don’t realise that what they’re doing is wrong. 

I did find it slightly disappointing at how easily dispatched the Children of Pyxis were by the Doctor, Romana, and K-9 though. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘sonic screwdriver saves the day’ trope the modern series seems to have popularised, so it was a bit of a letdown seeing that aspect of the show turn up in this otherwise fantastic audio drama. 

There were a couple of other instances where the characters were given an overly easy get-out-of-jail-free card too. One instance was when Romana and Kovaks (Spencer Banks) were trapped in a wine cellar hiding from killer slugs, and the other was when the Wadifalayeen turned up to kill the Doctor, only for us to find out that they owe him a blood debt from an unseen previous adventure. Whilst these ‘lucky’ coincidences and escapes for the Doctor and his friends did border on overly-convenient, for the most part, they didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story. 

The guest cast for this drama was also excellent. I particularly enjoyed Richard Laing’s snide, almost cheerfully evil villain, Skorpios, and was a big fan of Nicholas Briggs’ Foreman of the Lost Jury. Both characters could easily have been plucked straight from an adventure in the Hitchhikers’ universe and dropped into the world of Doctor Who

Jeany Spark and Julian Wadham were also welcome additions to the cast and definitely played a role in making this story as enjoyable as it was. 

This TARDIS team, consisting of Romana, the Fourth Doctor, and K-9, is, as I said, easily one of my all-time favourites, and I had a great time listening to them bounce off each other once more. The Doctor and K-9’s little jaunt into the Witness Protection Micro-verse was a big highlight for me, whilst Romana’s heist plot was also just as enjoyable.  

Overall, I was very impressed with this story and loved how silly, funny, and downright ridiculous it was at times. Tom Baker is clearly having a lot of fun with the material that he’s been given, and the absurdity and comedy of the story definitely satisfied my Hitchhikers cravings for sure. 

If you are a fan of when Doctor Who is a bit sillier than usual and doesn't take itself too seriously, or if you’re just a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in general, then you won’t be disappointed with this story in the slightest! 


+ The Doomsday Contract is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


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