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19 January 2013

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jonathan Morris

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: January 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 19th January 2013

England in the 1920s.

Whilst K9 is off in the TARDIS leading the Black Guardian on a wild goose chase, the Doctor and Romana are enjoying a leisurely lifestyle as the Lord and Lady of a London townhouse. But trouble never stays away from them for long, and before they know it a chance discovery of alien technology leads them deep into the heart of the English countryside where a malign presence lurks.

As the Doctor dodges deadly butlers and ferocious gamekeepers, Romana is faced with a malevolent Aunt and an even deadlier peril - marriage.

* * *

The first series of Fourth Doctor Adventures were a fun and varied set of stories featuring a brilliant return to the role of The Doctor by Tom Baker with the excellent Louise Jameson reprising her role as Leela.

This new series of adventures finds The Doctor with Romana as played by Mary Tamm, taking place after the epic Key to Time stories - and what better way to kick off things than this rather fun little romp.

As soon as The Auntie Matter begins it becomes clear that the story is heavily influenced by P.G. Wodehouse. Taking inspiration from the Jeeves and Wooster stories, Jonathan Morris has littered the story with Wodehousian tropes, plot devices and even his characters names are directly lifted from the writer’s work. For a Wodehouse fan like me this is an added joy but it requires no prior knowledge to enjoy this story as it is.

Tom Baker gives a rather subdued performance in this story, but not so that you wouldn’t know it was The Fourth Doctor. Over the course of his work for Big Finish it seems Baker has found a way of keeping his more outlandish Doctor performance, which he used in the AudioGo stories, in check. There were moments in the first series where he was clearly finding his way back into the part and he seems now to be rather comfortable back in the role.

It is sad that a fun adventure such as this is marred by sadness as this was one of the last pieces of work recorded by Mary Tamm before her untimely death last year. It is even sadder to write this review as Tamm’s return to Romana is just wonderful. That this series will be the only time we hear her and Baker perform together again is a tragedy as they play off each other and slip back into that sparkling relationship they both had in Season 16. While The Doctor and Romana do not share many moments together in this story, their opening and closing scenes are just perfect. 

The Auntie Matter is bolstered by a fantastic supporting cast that includes Julia McKenzie as the eponymous Auntie and the brilliant Alan Cox as Grenville. Robert Portal is superb as the Bertie Wooster–esque Reggie and Lucy Griffiths puts in a lovely performance as the Doctor’s companion for the story Mabel.

Mary Tamm herself is commemorated by a special segment in the C.D. extras featuring interviews with Producer David Richardson and a very moving tribute by Tom Baker.

Both funny and entertaining The Auntie Matter is a great beginning to a new season of adventures with The Fourth Doctor and Romana and what better way to celebrate the sad passing of Mary Tamm than by reminding ourselves of her incredible talent in a story full of mad joy.

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