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29 January 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Simon Guerrier

RRP: £12.99

Release Date: 31st January 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 29th January 2012

Whilst being pursued by the Daleks across time during the events of The Daleks Masterplan, Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom have found a small moment to relax but as they know, travelling with the Doctor means it will not last long. 

Whilst in the vortex, an experimental time ship crashes into the TARDIS, ripping the time capsule apart. The Doctor and his companions, along with the crew of the other ship awake on a desert island, the TARDIS nowhere to be seen. The occupants of the ship are human pioneers, the first of their kind to travel in time. It isn’t long before mutual distrust begins to build with Steven and Sara caught in the middle.

Time then begins to run out for both of them as they then find themselves on the other side of the Berlin Wall in 1966. Why are they there and will they have to betray the Doctor to escape? Whatever they decide, they are certainly not alone as something is stalking them both; a legend of the Doctor’s home world, and one that may be all too real.

The Anachronauts is the first Companion Chronicle release this year and Big Finish seem to be celebrating as this is a special two disc release. The narrative structure Simon Guerrier has chosen for this story justifies the need for a double release as it is told between Steven and Sara, alternating narration duties over the four episodes. 

Guerrier’s script is intricate and full of many twists and turns. He is incredibly clever at littering clues to the outcome of the story which will reward repeated listens. However this complex intricacy can hamper some of the themes he touches upon. One theme in particular is the idea of Steven and Sara betraying the Doctor and what he believes in to keep themselves both alive. This is not explored as much as you would like it to be, as there is so much going on, it simply serves to work towards the twist in the play’s conclusion.

Overall, the story feels a bit drawn out; this is due partially to the major change of location at the beginning of episode three. Whilst the adventure does go off in a new direction, the effect is rather jarring at first and seems to render the first two parts redundant. 

The strongest element of this story is the relationship between Steven and Sara, which is explored from each of their point of view. We get a fascinating insight into how these two characters have a growing respect and closeness which would never really been touched upon in the television series. This is the great strength of The Anachronauts, and the performances of Peter Purves and Jean Marsh bring it to life.

Both actors work wonderfully together, and Purves' impersonation of the first Doctor, William Hartnell is still a great joy to listen to. It is incredible just how vivid his characterisation is, successfully creates the illusion of a third actor being amongst the cast.

The Anachronauts is an interesting Companion Chronicle, with two very strong central performances, but despite a story that gets a little lost in its own intricacy, it is certainly worth a listen.

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