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Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

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30 March 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Eddie Robson

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 31st March 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 30th March 2012

UNIT have recovered a damaged Alien computer, and for once they do not require The Doctor’s help. Preferring to keep their scientific advisor in the dark, they call in Dr Elizabeth Shaw, to oversee the repair of this alien technology. All is not what it seems however as the soldiers who had been guarding the computer have vanished without a trace.

To help her in the repairs UNIT have sent to Liz a computer expert by the name of Sergeant Andrew Childs. As repairs begin it is not long before Liz and Sergeant Childs find themselves inside the computer.

Trapped and desperate to escape, Liz and Childs begin to traverse the inner workings of the computer. But why are they finding the vanished soldiers dead and just what is stalking them through the mainframe? The Doctor is not around to save the day this time, so Liz must find her own way out but can the increasingly evasive Childs be trusted?

Liz Shaw, one of the shortest lived companions in the history of Doctor Who, but despite this has made a rather strong impact in the hearts of many fans. So it seems only fitting that Big Finish are determined to give this Companion the life she should have had on screen and have pulled out this rather fun and thoughtful Companion Chronicle.

What is at first striking about Binary is the decision to make this release a full cast audio drama rather than a talking book. This is rare for the Companion Chronicles, one of the last releases to get this treatment was the superb Solitaire, but the effect really helps this story as it is nice to hear Caroline John reacting to another actor instead of creating the parts herself.

The story of Binary is a good one. It is not brilliant or particularly striking but it is entertaining. The concept of being trapped in a computer is not a new one, but there is enough ideas running throughout the story to help it elevate past more than a mere run around story. One of most interesting parts of Binary is the idea of a computer producing an organic life form to fix faults within it. Although this does generate a stereotypical foe to chase Liz around a corridor, the concept is so highly original you can forgive the short comings of its ultimate execution.

The cast all work well together, particularly Caroline John. John portrays Liz as a woman struggling to make something of herself in a man’s world, and her bitterness towards the sexism and the patronising attitude of The Doctor (who appears in this story thanks to messages on a screen) really add depth to Liz’s character.

Joe Coen as Seargent Childs is excellent in the role and although the revelation of the true nature of his character is at times rather obvious. Coen, though, brings enough charm and subtle manipulation to the part to make any listener second guess his character’s motives.

The full cast play format is an excellent device for the Companion Chronicles as a series and I for one would like to see Big Finish exploring the possibilities of this direction with future releases in the range.

Binary is an entertaining and intriguing addition to the Companion Chronicles, with some very good performances and for anyone jumping on board is a lovely introduction to a sadly short lived TV companion.

29 February 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Justin Richards

RRP: £10.99

Release Date: 29th February 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 29th February 2012

Knowledge is power. To know everything, every piece of knowledge that has ever existed is the desire of many but at what cost? Is knowledge detrimental to learning and understanding? You can list species of butterfly but do you know that they are beautiful?

This is the question that runs through the heart of this really enjoyable adventure for The Fourth Doctor.

The Doctor is determined to continue Leela’s education and decides that a trip to the universally famous Morovanian Museum is just what she needs. Upon arrival, things don’t go according to plan. First of all, why are they in an English village and just why are people dying around them, driven mad by the loss of something great?

The Doctor quickly begins to deduce that the mysterious Reginald Harcourt, resident of the local manor maybe the cause of the sinister goings on. Harcourt is the owner of The Collection, a place where everything, all knowledge and artefacts from everywhere are present. But as the Doctor points out, it is not fully complete and there is someone who will do just about anything to achieve its completion. Someone more than prepared to kill.

After the slightly underwhelming Destination: Nerva, The Renaissance Man is a much stronger entry in the new Fourth Doctor range.

Justin Richards' script is witty and clever. He captures the character of The Fourth Doctor and Leela very well, setting up the Pygmalion relationship that Big Finish is exploring with this series of adventures. Louise Jameson’s performance is very strong in this story despite the overuse of Leela’s mispronunciation of words, such as her repeated use of “runny science” for renaissance. Although Leela came from a primitive culture she is certainly not stupid. This however is a minor criticism of a well written and delivered portrayal. In fact, the relationship between The Doctor and Leela is much improved from that of their television appearances and this is definitely down to the way they are written. I hope that Big Finish continue to build upon this, as it is fast becoming one of my favourite Doctor and companion partnerships.

The supporting cast is good, particularly Laura Molyneaux in the dual role of Beryl and Professor Hilda Lutterthwaite but they are somewhat over-shadowed by guest star Ian McNeice as Harcourt. An intriguing villain, played excellently by the actor, especially when he and Baker get a verbal sparring, providing one of the highlights of the audio.

This brings us to the great man himself, Tom Baker. It has been a pleasure to listen to him return to the role of The Doctor, and he gives a brilliant performance here. In Destination: Nerva, The Doctor had to rely on luck and his wits, but here we see him relying on his keen intelligence, working things out way ahead of everyone else. He plays the fool and pulls the wool over everyone’s eyes before playing the detective with a great Christie-style revelation at the stories conclusion. Baker is witty, charming and brings out The Fourth Doctor’s moral centre beautifully, and the play is well worth your time based on his performance alone.

The main theme running through the story of knowledge versus experience is well realized. The darkest moment of the play, involving a character losing the knowledge which defines her, leading to a gruesome outcome, is rather powerful. This theme is explored very well and only seems to jar in the somewhat weaker epilogue.

Everything about The Renaissance Man is quintessential Doctor Who. It contains great ideas, two excellent lead performances and an intriguing story.

A highly recommended listen.

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.

27 January 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jonathan Morris

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st January 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 27th January 2012

It was just over a year ago that Philippa “Flip” Jackson found herself on an alien world being chased by giant robot mosquitoes in the company of a man known as “The Doctor”.

Now, stuck in a dead end job and relationship with her boyfriend Jared, she feels her life is going nowhere. So imagine her surprise when during a night on the town, a flying saucer crashes into the middle of London carrying one occupant, the Doctor.

However there is something not quite right about him; he is acting strangely and it doesn’t help that he is being hunted down by his old enemy, the Daleks.

With the Doctor a fugitive, Flip will soon be thrust into the real heart of the Dalek’s schemes; plans which are taking place two hundred years in the past on the fields of Waterloo. The fate of Europe hangs on this one moment in history and its outcome is threatened by the interference of the deranged creator of the Daleks; Davros.

This is a new year and we start the first release of the Big Finish Doctor Who main range with a brand new companion. To see Flip again, a character that originally appeared in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, is a surprise to say the least. As returning characters go it was certainly not one I was expecting but after hearing the performance of Lisa Greenwood, it is soon obvious what a good decision it was.

Greenwood is utterly charming as Flip. Her streetwise attitude and accent could put you in mind of Rose from the new series, but she is so good in the role that any thought of comparison is brief. The character works as a great counterbalance to the Sixth Doctor, whose companions have been more of the, without wanting to sound snobbish, educated kind. Since Peri was a graduate and Evelyn an academic, it is nice to see that Flip is cut from a rougher side of the tracks. I have high hopes for her character working well with The Sixth Doctor.

Colin Baker is once again proving just how good a Doctor and skilled an actor he is. Without giving too much away, his performance of a Doctor not quite acting himself, is played with brilliant subtlety. He makes you question everything he does throughout so when the twist comes at the end of part two, even if you do figure it out before then, you appreciate just how well the actor kept you guessing.

This release is even more noteworthy for the return of Terry Molloy to Big Finish as Davros. Molloy is always a joy to listen to as the Dalek creator, particularly when the character is up against The Sixth Doctor. Baker and Molloy play off each other so well as they have done in previous Big Finish stories Davros and The Juggernauts, that the plot twist in this story only serves to strengthen that interplay.

The Curse of Davros is lucky to have an excellent supporting cast, and with special mention going to Jonathan Owen as Napoleon. His performance is a real highlight of this audio, especially towards its conclusion, as Owen’s very human but flawed Bonaparte is refreshing change to many previously unsympathetic dramatic portrayals of the French Emperor.

Nicholas Briggs holds the directing duties and once more voices the Daleks and to hear them again with their creator is great fun. One of the dangers of having Davros and the Daleks together is that sometimes their threat and menace can be lost. The Daleks can easily just become drones, and lose some of their cunning and malevolence. The Daleks in this story are indeed servants of Davros, but what is interesting is that they appear to be utterly terrified of him. One scene is particularly striking, when two Daleks admit their failure and are taught a lesson by their creator in a shockingly cruel way.

This simple twist helps to give Davros a much more dangerous edge and it is a credit to Briggs’ skill with the Dalek voices that he makes the fear of their creator very believable.

Jonathan Morris has written a fun and exciting story with some excellent character moments and an intriguing insight into the Davros character. It is difficult to find fault with this play, except to say I have some disappointment that the very well written character of Jared will be absent from the future audios, as Ashley Kumar was very good in the role.

Overall The Curse of Davros is a fantastic audio adventure and an excellent introduction to a what I’m sure will become a memorable companion.

13 January 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Robert Banks Stewart, adapted by John Dorney & Philip Hinchcliffe, adapted by Jonathan Morris

RRP: £55.00

Release Date: 31st January 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 13th January 2012

Tom Baker’s first Big Finish audio adventure is finally here and what better way to celebrate than with the simultaneous release of The Fourth Doctor Lost Stories Box-set.

Just as Destination: Nerva set out to celebrate one of the most iconic settings of the early Tom Baker era, this box-set unearths the lost contributions of two giants of that part of the show’s history.

Robert Banks Stewart was the man behind two classic Tom Baker stories; Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom. To see an unfinished story of his brought to completion is, for me, one of the great selling points of this set. If that wasn’t enough, the latter story was conceived by none other than Philip Hinchcliffe, one of the most celebrated of Doctor Who’s producers, and the man heavily associated with the success of the Tom Baker period of the show.

The Foe from the Future

By Robert Stewart Banks (adapted by John Dorney)

The TARDIS lands in the village of Staffham in 1977 and it isn’t long before the Doctor and Leela are caught up in strange goings on. The Grange, a stately home in the forest outside the village has long believed to be haunted and recently frightening visions of Highwaymen and Cavaliers are appearing at an alarming rate. The Doctor doesn’t believe in ghosts, but when a man turns up dead, his curiosity is piqued.

What do these haunting have to do with the rather mysterious owner of the Grange, Lord Jalnik, and what precisely is he up to? The Doctor soon uncovers a plot that spans across two thousand years, and if it succeeds, history will cease to exist.

The Foe from the Future was the story that was replaced by The Talons of Weng-Chiang and it is easy to see why as the scope of this tale would’ve stretched even the most generous BBC budget. It dashes backwards and forwards through time, has a rather large supporting cast and a creature whose impact may have suffered at the limitations of the decade’s special effects. But thank goodness Big Finish have brought it back to life as The Foe from the Future turns out to be one of the most enjoyable plays the company has produced.

Everything about this production is first rate. Tom Baker is quite simply brilliant and you can hear he is having a jolly good time with how mad the play gets. Louise Jameson is superb too, and both the leads are complimented by a fine supporting cast, the most notable member being Paul Freeman as Jalnik. Freeman is a joy to listen to in his portrayal of a rather unhinged and pathetic shadow of man, bringing easily to mind the more complex villains of this era of Doctor Who. Special mention must go to Lousie Brealey, who wonderfully plays the affectionately named “Charlotte from the Village”.

John Dorney is to be commended for his sterling adaptation of this story, as it is filled with action, mystery and a surprising but not unwelcome ghoulish sense of humour.

A six part story must have been a mammoth undertaking for Big Finish, but not one episode is dull or unnecessary. It is a remarkable achievement and it has already become a favourite of this reviewer. 

The Valley of Death

By Philip Hinchcliffe (adapted by Jonathan Morris)

The Victorian explorer, Cornelius Perkins, mysteriously vanished in the jungle whilst searching for the lost city of the Maygor Tribe. His diary however was recovered and fell into the hands of his Great Grandson Edward. Edward is now planning a new expedition to pick up the trail from where his ancestor left off, the entirety of which to be covered by photo journalist Valerie Carlton. The diary's descriptions of what appears to be a crashed spaceship alert UNIT who send along their scientific advisor and his savage companion to join Perkins in his quest.

When their plane crash lands in the middle of the jungle, things begin to go from bad to worse. Amongst the thickness of the trees and vines, strange creatures are waiting and tribesmen are watching, as the Doctor, Edward, Valerie and Leela step ever closer towards the fabled Valley of Death. What they find there, will be far more deadly than mere legend.

The Valley of Death is great fun, particularly the opening two episodes. They have the feel of a Boys’ Own adventure with some dashes of Indiana Jones and a deliciously science fiction twist. The cast are quite clearly enjoying themselves throughout and Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are building an incredibly strong partnership in these plays already. The genuine affection and mutual respect the Doctor and Leela afford to one another is played beautifully and I really hope these Lost Stories and the first Series of Fourth Doctor adventures will not be the last we see of them.

The best performance of the play is by far Nigel Carrington as the central antagonist of the piece Emissary Godrin. He is a wonderfully fiendish creation; a warped genius with a cruel sense of humour, which makes him an excellent opponent for the Fourth Doctor.

A story of two halves, the first two episodes of The Valley of Death are based exclusively in the jungle and the play shifts not only location but tone for the last two episodes. There could have been a danger in losing the momentum and atmosphere created by the opening episodes but this change only serves to enrich the adventure.

Although is not as strong as The Foe from the Future, The Valley of Death is a highly enjoyable adventure and a great closing story for the box-set.

If you have never listened to any of the Lost Stories or even bought any of Big Finish’s box sets, this is would be the place to start for any true fan as it is a brilliant recreation of classic era Doctor Who.

Despite some minor niggles here and there this box set it is as close to perfection as you can get with well deserved full marks. 

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12 January 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

RRP: £10.99

Release Date: 31st January 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 12th January 2012

The wait is over. This is the moment many Doctor Who fans have longed for: Tom Baker’s first Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure. The weight of expectation for this release is enormous and it shows just how important Tom Baker is in the history of Doctor Who and to its many fans.

After years of resisting, and with a little encouraging from Nicholas Briggs, Louise Jameson, and even DWO itself, Tom Baker finally came round to working with Big Finish - and not just for a one off. Destination: Nerva marks the first in many more adventures to come and from the evidence of this release; it is a rather jolly good start.

After the defeat of Magnus Greel (in the televised story; The Talons of Weng-Chiang), The Doctor intends to further Leela’s education, but is interrupted when the TARDIS receives a mysterious signal. Leading them to a Victorian mansion owned by the mysterious Lord Jack, they discover a massacre inside the house; Soldiers and Alien beings lie dead at each other’s hands. The words of the last dying creature, a Drelleran, spur the Doctor and Leela on the trail of a stolen spaceship, little knowning the chase will bring the Doctor back to a familiar place from his past.

The newly built Nerva space dock is undergoing constant repairs and as a maintenance ship arrives to sort out the problems, a mysterious pod arrives carrying with it something so deadly that it could destroy the whole human race. As the threat consumes Nerva, The Doctor must try to figure out how the evils of the past may have a dangerous impact on the future of mankind.

Now it must be said, as delighted as fans were that Baker was to make his Big Finish debut, there were one or two concerns from others. How would Baker be in the productions? Would he ham it up and not take it seriously? Would he sound bored and unmoved by what he was performing?

Fortunately all would prove unfounded, as Baker’s performance is fantastic! He slips back into the role of the Fourth Doctor with such ease it's almost as if he never stopped playing the part. He is funny, moody, mad and just as heroic as you remember him. It is quite clear from listening to him here that Baker is having the time of his life in the part once again. It is this enthusiasm for the role that reignites his excellent chemistry with Louise Jameson as Leela, and the two of them carry the play beautifully. Despite the passage of time, they sound almost exactly as they did back in 1977, and you cannot help but be captivated by their performances. The benefit of audio has allowed The Doctor and Leela’s relationship to deepen, and if this develops throughout the rest of the series, they are going to make an excellent TARDIS team once again.

As for the supporting cast, many of whom are in roles that are seemingly more to serve the progression of the story than anything else; all do well, with special mention going to Raquel Cassidy. As Dr Alison Foster, Cassidy puts in a lovely, subtle and moving performance which is a perfect counterbalance to the big personality of Tom Baker’s Doctor. But this is Baker and Jameson’s show, and every time they are not present in the story, you are yearning for their immediate return.

Writer and director Nicholas Briggs, knows that this story has to lay down a mission statement for the Fourth Doctor adventures as a series. Destination: Nerva is not always successful in its approach but it is still highly entertaining. The opening sequence in the mansion is very effective and engrossing and the sudden jump to Nerva is at first a little jarring. The play then takes a while for the pace to pick back up, as it carefully sets up the events that are to play out in the second episode. But by the action-packed and rather gruesome episode two, the story finds itself back on track.

Briggs has recreated an authentic atmosphere of the latter part of the Hinchcliffe era and there is also a whiff of The Ark in Space. This is not just with the inclusion of Nerva, but the rather horrible moments of body horror as, without giving too much away, human beings are consumed by a biological threat.

The ultimate revelation of the enemy’s identity is not too surprising but Brigg’s idea of what would happen if the jingoistic policies of the British Empire went to space is highly intriguing. It is not explored as much as you would like, given the two episode format, but Briggs gives us just enough to turn what could have been another base under siege story into something more thoughtful.

Everything about the production seems keen to recreate the feel of the Tom Baker era, right down to the old Radiophonic Workshop sound effects and Jamie Robertson’s Dudley Simpson-esque musical score. Technically, the production is flawless, and if you were a viewer back in the seventies, it is indeed like Saturday Night Teatime all over again.

Destination: Nerva, is a story which has a bit of the old and a bit of the new, and while not everything about the story works perfectly, it is still very good fun and a fantastic debut for Tom Baker at Big Finish.

24 December 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jason Arnopp

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st December 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 24th December 2011

On the world of Draxine, the continent of Zelonia is in crisis. The city of Garruk is in ruins, completely obliterated by an explosion of monumental proportions. What makes this tragedy more horrific is the fact that it was caused by the hand of the city’s own leader President Harmon, the same man who was found to be the figure head of a sinister death cult.

As if things couldn’t be worse, Garruk’s twin city Stronghaven is in political turmoil. President Karnex has recently been assassinated, and his replacement, Vallan faces a troubled and distrustful populace, particularly since the assassin has just escaped from prison.

The Doctor and Mary Shelley arrive on Zelonia, as a much more frightening chain of events begins to unfold. Something is coming from out of the dark of the ruined city, and it is growing in number and getting closer. Garruk’s dead is rising, and the bones of those who perished are on the march, heading in one direction; the very centre of Stronghaven. 

The Doctor and Mary are caught in the middle as the skeletons Garruk’s dead converge on the outnumbered citizens of Stronghaven. The Doctor realizes there is much more to this affair than the supernatural, but just what terrible truths will he uncover and will everyone survive?

Army of Death is the final play in this trilogy of Eighth Doctor stories is and it is a real gem. The quality of the previous entries has been built upon and this story can proudly hold itself up as one of Big Finish’s best releases of the year. Everything here is crafted expertly. 

The story is very strong, and the plot is so beautifully constructed by Jason Arnopp that not a dull moment goes by throughout its running time. Arnopp has managed to bring a great mixture of thrills, tension and character and this can be seen in the superb performances from the cast.

Paul McGann turns in a stellar performance as the more youthful incarnation of the Eighth Doctor, and you can see the fun he is having as an actor particularly in a very good interrogation scene opposite President Vallan. His Doctor is well served by the writing, as he is courageous, moral, alien and funny. There is a simple joy to see McGann, let go and have some fun with the character.

Then we come to the sublime Julie Cox who once again impresses as Mary Shelley and qucikly becoming another excellent companion for the Eighth Doctor. Even when the characters are separated by events, she is still a delight to listen to as she portrays Mary’s intelligence, compassion and warmth effortlessly. What is wonderful to see is the mutual trust she and the Doctor have with one another. Although she may not always agree with him, she knows that whatever the Doctor decides to do will be the right thing. 

Their relationship goes through some rather surprising developments in this play and it is a credit to Arnopp’s expert handling of them that they do not jar with the overall story, and work to its advantage.

Army of Death is blessed with a very fine supporting cast and no one, no matter how small the role is not left standing on the sidelines. As President Vallan, David Harewood is magnificent, infusing the character with a real humanity as he tries to confront his own growing terror and the reality of his incompetence in the face of the approaching army. He is a man that just wants to do what is right, and his eventual fate is given a much more horrible edge by the brilliance of Harewood’s performance.

Excellent turns come also from, Carolyn Pickles as Lady Meera, Eva Pope as the damaged Nia Brusk, but special mention must go to guest star Mitch Benn.

Playing two roles, Commander Rayner and the aforementioned Karnex, comedian, Benn shows just what a great actor he is. Rayner is a wonderfully to the point solider and his prescence is always welcome but it is with Karnex that Benn has the most fun. Without giving the game away, it must be said that when Karnex is present, it is both creepy and fun. You can hear self-confessed Whovian Benn having the time of his life in the role, and it is one of the many highlights of this release. 

There is very little to criticize here, apart from one or two minor niggles, but if anything predominately negative has to be raised, it is just that the post credit scene is not as strong as the cliff-hanger that comes before. But that is a minor issue compared to the wealth of strong material on show here.

There has been a theme running throughout this trilogy, helping to nurture the ever growing seed of Frankenstein in Mary’s future. The Silver Turk, The Witch from the Well and Army of Death have all dealt with the very nature of death and the control of life. All three warn of the danger and fear of powers mere mortals were not meant to use. This unifying theme has helped to give the trilogy scope and identity, making them all strong stories which complement one another wonderfully.

After the traumatic conclusion to the Eighth Doctor and Lucie adventures, this exploration of the past has proven to be a winning formula for Big Finish. It has given faithful listeners, not just a breather, but an invigorating and excellent run of stories and one the strongest trilogies that Big Finish has ever released.

Highly recommended.

24 December 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Christopher Bailey and Marc Platt

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st December 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 24th December 2011

Christopher Bailey is a writer well-regarded by Doctor Who fans and Kinda is one of most popular stories in the show’s history. This is extraordinary considering only two of Bailey’s stories reached broadcast, the last being Kinda’s sequel, Snakedance. Bailey did have two other scripts that went under consideration by the BBC that were eventually rejected. The first was May Time and the other, The Children of Seth. The rejection of both stories drove Bailey away from a career in television and back into a life of academia. 

Bailey’s thoughtful and complex stories have stood out to fans and have grown in reputation over the years, even gaining a DVD boxset to those stories alone earlier this year. So it is with high expectations that Big Finish, with Marc Platt’s adaptation, bring to completion Bailey’s missing work to close this season of Fifth Doctor lost stories. 

The story begins when an experiment of Nyssa’s brings up a message on the TARDIS’ temporal scanner. It is simply one word “Idra”. The Doctor is intrigued enough to set a course for the origin of the signal, the Archipelago of Sirius.

Whilst there, Nyssa, Tegan and the Doctor discover a society on the brink of war, as the mighty Autarch is due to announce a new campaign against the enemy of his people: Seth, the Prince of the Dark. It soon becomes clear, that all is not as it seems, for deep in the court lies treachery and something unexpected and sinister building in power. Will the TARDIS crew discover the mystery at the heart of Sirius and just what is on the dreaded Level 14?

The Children of Seth is not an easy listen. This is to the play’s credit, however. The story is complex, and provides many questions and multiple plot strands. This is not a story that you can idly dip in and out of as it requires nothing less than your full attention. The story is not hard to follow at all, but its complexity only serves to enrich the listening experience. Since this play derives from a Christopher Bailey story it is hardly a surprise. Marc Platt is to be commended for bringing Bailey’s ideas to life, and adding his own distinctive touches to the final work.

There are some great performances here, particularly Adrian Lukis as the villain of the piece, Lord Byzan. This is a wonderfully power hungry character, driven to destroy any threat no matter how small from achieving his goals. It is one of the highlights of the play, which includes even more great performances from Honor Blackman as Anahita and Vernon Dobtcheff as Shemur.

However not all the cast is well served by the story. David Warner, who plays the role of Siris, the Autarch, is in very little of the play, and only comes to the foreground toward the end. In the handful of scenes he is in, the character merely becomes a senile leader, completely overwhelmed by the events that are occurring around him. It is a little bit of a waste for an actor of his talent, but for the time he is there, Warner’s presence is a welcome one.

Poor Sarah Sutton is once again, as has been common in this trilogy, relegated to the sidelines, allowing Janet Fielding to come out in front. Tegan is well served by this story, and Fielding’s great performance makes up for the lack of Nyssa. It would be nice to see more of these two companions together in future stories, as the moments when they are together are great fun to listen to. 

It is difficult to review The Children of Seth without giving too much away and I have to say that not everything about the play works, but it is a slow and rewarding play and I believe those rewards will increase on repeated listens.

This trilogy of lost stories has revealed a definite linking theme. These are stories about hierarchies and societies perilously close to collapse from the corruption of morals and ideals from within. Each story presents a leader of people, unaware of the chaos that will soon erupt and when it does it is disastrous for all concerned.  It would have been interesting to see if this story had made it to television, as it is certainly one of the most interesting, surreal and thoughtful Doctor Who lost stories I’ve experienced.

The Children of Seth is certainly not for a casual listener if such a thing exists. It requires much more of you, and although not perfect, it is certainly a recommended conclusion to a thought provoking trilogy.

17 December 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Terrance Dicks

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 31st December 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 17th December 2011

There are some sequels that are inevitable, and there are those which are completely unexpected, and this new release in The Companion Chronicles is certainly one of the latter.

Jason and Crystal have survived yet another adventure in the TARDIS, and the Doctor has managed to hoodwink both of them into recording a report of it to the Time Lords, something he himself would rather avoid. Together, they both relate what happened. The adventure begins when their former enemy Karl, contacts the Doctor to attend the funeral of Madam Delilah, hostess of the Bar Galactica. But Karl has ulterior motives. He has heard of the legend of Ultima Thule, a legend made more compelling by the words of a dying fellow mercenary. For at Ultima Thule, there is hidden treasure and a very serious threat to the whole of the Universe. The TARDIS crew with Karl in tow seek out the truth behind the legend, and a dark new enemy waits for their arrival, including a few old ones...

When Big Finish decided to make an audio version of The Ultimate Adventure Stage play, it was met with excitement and nervousness. After all, this was a pantomime of Doctor Who, and if that weren’t horrifying enough to some it also had songs. Songs!

The final result however was, I felt, a rather fun and charming piece of Who lore put together and performed really well. It was certainly surprising to hear that a sequel was to be made, so long after the original play was written.

Let’s get the good or bad news out of the way first. There are no songs this time round. What is interesting though, is that, unusually for a Companion Chronicle, the Doctor himself is involved in the action as played by the ever reliable Colin Baker.

The play also has the added appeal of Terrance Dicks returning to the same characters, in his Big Finish debut. It is always fun to see Dicks return to writing Doctor Who, as he always manages to pull something interesting from up his sleeve.

Noel Sullivan and Claire Huckle both reprise their roles as Jason and Crystal and they provide the main focus of the play as it unfolds. It is puzzling that this sequel was done the way it has been, as, with the exception of David Banks, the entire main cast has returned. It might’ve made more sense to have done this play as a full cast audio as opposed to a talking book.

Since Banks is not here reprising Karl, his presence is filled in by both Huckle and Sullivan throughout. One of the guilty pleasures is hearing Sullivan deliver Karl’s cockney lines in Jason’s French accent, particularly since that accent is at times perilously close to ‘Allo ‘Allo quality.

That is not to say that the performances are bad. Far from it, for Huckle and Sullivan are engaging narrators and perform the piece in the spirit it was intended.

As the year draws to a close, it seems that after a run of rather thoughtful Companion Chronicles, Big Finish have decided to have a little bit of fun. The play as a whole is very true to the spirit in which its predecessor was written and even has the fun feel of a Choose your own adventure book, where you’re not quite sure what is going to happen next. Despite this, not everything works.

The sudden appearances of various old monsters from Who lore (ones, it should be mentioned, that are famously associated with Dicks) can be quite jarring, and seem to be of little point other than to be yet another obstacle for the Doctor and his friends to get past. When we do meet the villain of the piece, he is a rather simple creation, and dispatched of in an infuriatingly easy manner.

But this is not a play for fans of deep dark storytelling. This is after all a sequel to The Ultimate Adventure. Cynicism must be kept low or completely switched off. This a universe in Doctor Who, where old enemies pop up out of the blue without a second thought and are dispatched just as quickly; A world where an 80s night club singer and a French aristocrat can travel the far corners of space and time together. It is also a world where one can repeat the phrase “murderous mercenaries” at various times and not feel a little silly.

All in all Beyond the Ultimate Adventure is trying to be nothing more than the fun romp it is and it succeeds at that well enough. It sadly it lacks some of the charm that made The Ultimate Adventure such a fun listen, but if you’re looking for different and just plain camp Doctor Who then this release is recommended.

25 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Paul Finch, from a story by Peter Ling and Hazel Adair

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th November 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 25th November 2011

The Fifth Doctor returns in the second of this trilogy of Lost Stories and it is a rather strange but interesting play.

People all over the world are going missing andthe only person who seems to care is journalist Mike Bretherton. After gathering evidence, Mike is ready to break the story of his carreer, but one night he too vanishes, and his story with him. Unlike the others who vanished, Mike has an advantage.

His disappearance does not go unnoticed, especially since he was the old boyfriend of one Tegan Jovanka. Fearful for his safety, she implores the Doctor to go looking for him, and the mystery of it all is more than enough to get him curious. Following the trail the TARDIS lands, on the uninhabited planet of Luparis. At least it was when the Doctor last visited; now it seems to be an exact recreation of Tudor London. The mystery deepens as the Doctor is brought before the powerful Queen Zafira, a determined monarch living in a time of civil unrest amongst her people. The Queen is proud and not shy about doing almost anything  for her and her subjects to survive.

Something is certainly not right with Luparis. There are creatures hiding in the shadows, and treachery and usurpers are afoot amongst the Queen’s court. Will the mystery of Luparis be uncovered and will Doctor escape a fate worse than death: Marriage to the Queen herself?

Hexagora is chockfull of quite frankly bonkers ideas and set pieces. Yet it has the most wonderful underlying story. However it has to be said that while there is a great deal to enjoy here, not everything about the play works.

It can be said that no fault lies in the performances. Everyone works incredibly well here, especially Peter Davison and guest star Jacqueline Pearce. Pearce finds the likability in this self important monarch whose every whim is granted above all things. She is the highlight of the production and there is never a dull moment when she is present.

Toby Hadoke is a great addition to the cast, playing not only a convincing Australian, but probably the only man in the Universe who might just able to put up with Tegan for a lifetime. Hadoke also voices many minor parts throughout, all of which he attacks with great enthusiasm, and I hope he becomes a Big Finish regular, especially after hearing his performance in Robophobia earlier this year.

The rest of the cast do sterling work. Janet Fielding is always a joy to listen to when Tegan gets angry at something or someone and Sarah Sutton, despite not being in the play that much, is very good indeed.

The other guest stars, Richard Mark, Dan Starkey and Sean Brosnan make up a very good cast and everyone excels in their own roles splendidly.

At its heart, Hexagora presents many fascinating ideas, but sadly not all of them are explored as fully as you would hope. As the secret of Luparis slowly reveals itself, you get to see what a brilliant concept the story is. It is highly original and some of the more absurd elements do eventually come together to make sense. But there are many threads left unexplored or just resolved too quickly. 

One of the most obvious is the relationship between Mike and Tegan. It is implied and heavily stated that Tegan’s feelings towards Mike are very strong, and he says just as much about her himself. But we rarely get to see any of it when the two confront one another. It feels like not so much an old love rekindled, but more of an old acquaintance awkwardly revisited.  Particular revelation of Tegan’s past deserved more attention than what is granted here.

Thematically, Hexagora shares many things in common with last month’s story The Elite. I would argue that Hexagora acts as a suitable companion piece to that play. Without giving away spoilers, many of the ideas in The Elite are explored here but inverted, whether intentionally or not.  When listened to together, it is impossible not to draw some comparisons, as the themes of a civilisation surviving by any means necessary run strongly in throughout both productions, but they not fully explored as they are in The Elite.

The final resolution to the whole play feels somewhat rushed, and may leave a listener feeling a little unsatisfied. This is a shame as Hexagora has so much to offer and it is certainly a recommended listen. It is intriguing, exciting and rather fun in some places and very entertaining despite the somewhat flat ending.

24 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Rick Briggs

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th November 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 24th November 2011

Hidden within the grounds of the estate of Tranchard’s Folly, there is an old, overgrown sealed well. When the curious owner of the house, Aleister Portillion, and his excavation team break it open, they unleash a horror that has been trapped for centuries. 

Two teenage twins, Lucern and Finicia barely escape with their lives, rescued by a woman calling herself Mary Shelley and a man known only as The Doctor.

The mystery of the ancient evil only stirs the Doctor’s curiosity, and he embarks on a journey to the past to uncover its origin. It isn’t long before things go terribly wrong, and the Doctor and Mary find themselves separated in Tranchard’s Folly’s past and future.

In the Twenty-First Century, Mary and the twins go in search of an artefact that may hold the key to the horror within the well and in the Seventeenth, amidst a wave of fear and persecution; the Doctor feels the wrath of Master Kincaid, the Witch-Pricker.

As the paths of all converge, it seems that even across centuries and universes, thou shall not suffer a Witch to live.

The Witch From the Well, the second in the new trilogy of Eighth Doctor adventures, is a rather fun story, filled with great concepts and characters. As you may have guessed from the title, there is no shortage of witch related moments, most significantly in the sequences set in the Seventeenth Century.

The Doctor’s quiet and disappointed disgust with the primitive superstitions of the villagers is written well and Paul McGann excels in his delivery.

Many of the plays most interesting scenes are the confrontations between The Doctor and Kincaid, played brilliantly by Simon Rouse. There's usually a danger of treating men of extreme faith with contempt and it is a credit to the writing and Rouse’s performance that Kincaid does not become a raving stereotype. The Doctor and Kincaid are simply men on opposite sides, both striving for a similar goal, the only difference being their beliefs and methods.

There are a great many characters throughout this play all served by terrific performances, particularly Serena Evans as Agnes Bates, the poor innocent herbalist, condemned as all women of her kind were.

Having Mary and the Doctor separated in the past and future, allows for her to stand alone for nearly the whole story. Julie Cox once again, impresses as Mary Shelley and it is nice to see the character be her own person, rather than fall into the trap of simply following the Doctor around and getting forgotten in all the mayhem. The interesting subplot in which Mary comes close to discovering her future is interesting and it is intriguing to see the character wrestle with the temptation of it. It would have been nice to see more of Mary with the Doctor as such a great rapport was set up in The Silver Turk.

This the first full length adventure by Rick Briggs for Big Finish, having previously been the lucky winner of BF’s writer’s opportunity. The result of that contest was The Entropy Composition, an excellent story which was included on The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories released last year. 

With The Witch From the Well, Briggs has certainly established himself as a writer to watch, as there is no end of original ideas here. Witches are foremost in the mind of the story, but they are not employed to simply put a Doctor Who spin on a popular myth. What Briggs chooses to focus on is how the persecution of others can destroy not only the persecutors but also those being condemned.

To say how this theme develops further in the play would be to spoil a surprisingly dark motivation for the story’s antagonists. It is a very neat twist, and raises very interesting questions that stay with you long after listening.

Overall, The Witch From the Well is an entertaining and thought provoking adventure that is well worth a listen.

23 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Simon Guerrier

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 30th November 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd November 2011

The Doctor is dead. Steven Taylor and Oliver Harper are on the run. Trapped on the planetoid Grace Alone, they arrived to face the fate which had been haunting them since Oliver joined the TARDIS crew in 1960s London. Greeting them were the massacred bodies of the planetoid’s crew, and the perpetrators of the deed; an alien race known as the Vardans. Steven has felt recently, that when travelling with the Doctor he is living on “borrowed time”. Time is very quickly running out, and not everyone will escape it alive.

The First Wave is the conclusion to, and the strongest entry in the Oliver Harper trilogy.

The story itself works nicely for the format. It is not over complicated but it has a wonderfully tense and reflective feel. The theme of the story is most certainly about borrowed time, and how this has become a part of Steven Taylor’s character throughout the trilogy. His reflections on those he has lost when travelling with the Doctor, and cool resignation that he is next in the firing line are played superbly by Peter Purves who carries this play almost single handed with another fantastic interpretation of the First Doctor.

That is not to discredit the performance of Tom Allen as Oliver, who has grown on me throughout the course of the trilogy. There is something unapologetically heroic about Oliver towards the play’s conclusion, and Allen, particularly in the closing scene plays him beautifully.

The inclusion of returning villian, the Vardans, has thankfully not been shoe horned in for nostalgia’s sake. Their presence makes perfect sense and works to the story’s advantage, particularly in the final sequence.

Simon Guerrier’s writing is on top form. The play is written more as a two handed drama, with flashbacks and flash forwards narrated by Purves and Allen. This approach works very well, and the sense of foreboding about the inevitable fate of Oliver is clear and present but not so much that the conclusion lacks an emotional impact.

The closing scene is too good to spoil, suffice to say it is unexpected, original and done very well indeed. 

The only real criticism I could give is that the character of Oliver has gone before he had more time to really flesh out. I could see more stories with Oliver Harper, as the character had begun to grow, and his back story was strong enough to merit more exploration of his character but sadly it seems it was not to be.

With sterling direction by Lisa Bowerman, The First Wave is an excellent conclusion to what has been an intriguing trilogy for the Companion Chronicles.

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.

23 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: John Dorney, from a story by Barbara Clegg

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st October 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23nd November 2011

After what was to my mind, was a mixed season of releases, the Lost Stories return, with the Fifth Doctor making an excellent debut in the range.

After the events of Arc of Infinity, Tegan is back in the TARDIS and the Doctor has mixed feelings about it. He decides to take both Tegan and Nyssa to the paradise world of Florana but they wind up under the dome of a battle scarred planet, run by the Elite. The Doctor is intrigued by this place, one in which the people are all young and the old are absent. While the military fights for the glory of the Elite, everyone lives in reverence or fear of the High Priest who lives hidden in the cathedral of power. The situation is about to dangerous for the High Priest knows the Doctor of old, and an old enemy will stir.

The Elite is very good indeed. A gripping and intriguing narrative, coupled with exciting all out action, particularly near the story’s conclusion.  Everything about this release feels like authentic Peter Davison era Who from the characterization, to the suitably Peter Howell-esque musical score.

Peter Davison himself delivers an excellent performance throughout, as do the rest of the main cast with Janet Fielding in particular on good form.

What gives The Elite its hook is the central mystery of the High Priest. I will not spoil it for you, but when his true nature is revealed, it is very satisfying.  Dorney does an excellent job of keeping us guessing right until the revelation, and it is a credit to the rest of the story that it does not get swamped by its magnitude.

In fact The Elite has so much more on offer than a mere plot twist. 

What impresses is the exploration of the abhorrent ideology of eugenics and the examination of the church versus the state. The ugly nature of the Elite is slowly revealed and what disturbs is how much it’s young citizens have such absolute conviction that the elimination of the weaker elements of society should be erased.  It is played with complete conviction by the cast and credit must be given to the actors involved, as it ensures their characters do not become mere soundboards for the Hitler Youth politics the Elite believes in.

The depiction of religion in the play is fascinating.  The acolytes of the High Priest, such as the character of Thane, played like a true zealot by Ryan Sampson, are completely devoted to the ideal of the High Priest as their one true God, even when his divinity comes into question.  Although the Thane character comes close to being worryingly two dimensional towards the end, he best represents the shadowy nature of the religious organization and its suspicion of the military powers. The mutual distrust between the military and the church, and their rightly held belief that one is trying to overthrow the other is explored well and offers some excellent dramatic tension throughout.

The Elite, is a thoughtful, exciting and rich play. The only downside is that some of the characters aren’t as well served by the script as others. Poor Sarah Sutton is relegated to the sidelines and spends most of the time under the spell of the military education, a plot line that is underdeveloped which is sad considering how much strong material is on display. However The Elite is a very strong debut for the Fifth Doctor in the Lost Story range. Highly recommended.

22 October 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Marc Platt

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st October 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 22nd October 2011

The Eighth Doctor without Lucie Miller?; Surely we all said the same thing when Charley Pollard left the TARDIS and now without Sheridan Smith in sight, how will the Doctor cope? Well he won’t need to as this Doctor has not met both of those well loved companions. This is a younger, less hardened Doctor, and it is with this trip to the past that Big Finish brings Paul McGann back into the main monthly range.

Our story begins in Nineteenth Century Vienna. The Doctor arrives with Mary Shelley, after their meeting in Switzerland, hoping to rendezvous with his other companions, Samson and Gemma.

As soon as they arrive, they hear gossip of a killer on the loose and a mechanical marvel that can play musical instruments, and beat anyone at a game of their choice. Intrigued, the Doctor and Mary venture to the great Viennese Exposition, where Alfred Stahlbaum unveils his marvel, the Silver Turk. But nothing is what it seems with the Turk, as one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies makes an unwelcome return.

It is no secret that the returning foes here are the Cybermen, but more specifically the earliest version of the Mondas monsters. It is familiar territory for writer Marc Platt as he worked with them in the wonderful Spare Parts, and to see him writing them again is one of the joys of this audio. 

Platt has crafted a very simple but gripping story, where every character has a significant part to play. The story does not offer any big or grand ideas, for what we get is a creepy and exciting adventure and it serves as a wonderful introduction to a new companion.

The cast here is first rate. McGann’s younger Doctor, but still possessing a rather dangerous edge, is a welcome change after the trauma the character suffered in his last story with Lucie Miller. Although it is a little anti climatic not to have that storyline continue, the decision to go back to the past I believe was a good move, allowing long devoted listeners a bit of breathing space and an essential reminder of what makes McGann so great in the part.   

Julie Cox, returning as Mary from her appearance in last year’s The Company of Friends, is marvellous. The character’s enthusiasm for the life of travel and a particularly brilliant scene where the frightening nature of the situation she finds herself in threatens to stop her journey in the TARDIS before it has begun is superbly played and I look forward to hearing where the character goes in the following stories.

The supporting cast are all fantastic, with Gareth Armstrong as marionette making Dr Johann Drossel a particular highlight, putting one in mind of Tobias Vaughn for more than one reason.

With Shelley in the story, you cannot escape the obvious references to Frankenstein. The Cyberman known as Gram, becomes a prototype for Shelley’s future Creature, mistreated by its masters and demonised by the Doctor. It is the mark of a good writer if he can generate sympathy for a cybernetic creature that speaks like an ancient computer and Marc Platt pulls it off remarkably well. Gram is a fascinating creation, and it is a credit to the vocal talent of Nicholas Briggs that he injects some humanity into the inhuman creature. Gram is by no means a hero for he is still driven by the Cyberman desire of conquest, but with Briggs’ performance and Platt’s handling of him, you feel a smirk of triumph when he finally gets his own back for his mistreatment, culminating in a rather unexpected but brilliant line of dialogue.

Mention must go to the wonderful sound design and musical score by Jamie Robertson, who is quickly becoming one of Big Finish’s best composers. He is also responsible for one of the biggest surprises of this release, a brand new theme arrangement for the Eighth Doctor. It is very different to hat you have heard before, but after a few listens it fits in rather nicely.

With a new theme tune, new companion and new direction, The Silver Turk is an excellent start for the return of the Eighth Doctor to Big Finish and well worth your time.

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