The Elite

Helping a Dalek – has it come to this?

The Fifth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor offers Nyssa and Tegan a trip to the paradise world of Florana, but instead the TARDIS takes them to a domed city on a planet, scarred by warfare. A world where everyone is young, and fighting for the glory of the Elite…

Hidden away in the Cathedral of Power, the High Priest is watching. It knows the Doctor, and his arrival changes everything…

Review

I don’t think that it is possible to evoke an era better than The Elite manages to. Quite simply, this felt like it could have slotted in nicely between Arc of Infinity and Snakedance seamlessly. Whilst the writing felt different, John Dorney’s writing encapsulates the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan perfectly for me and, despite culminating in a bit of a slaughter at the end, didn’t feel as grim as a script written under the supervision of Eric Saward.

That’s not to say that it’s all perfect, however. There’s quite a sizeable guest cast here and I’m not sure that the story quite does enough with them. I personally struggled to tell Aubron and Alaric apart at times, and neither receive enough characterisation to distinguish them at times, and whilst Ryan Sampson does a solid enough job for the first three parts, he really flies off the rails and pushes the insanity well past 11 in the final part of the story. I would have liked the story to have more of Educator Stemp, however, as her character seemed to have some real promise and she is particularly good when she is sparking off Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton, but she ultimately suffers from not having much development. Ella is another character that I would have liked to have had more time with and she does interact nicely with Janet Fielding.

What the story does really nicely is evoke the feeling of Doctor Who in the early 1980s. Almost everything works really well, from the score which uses synthesisers to feels ultimately at home in this era, to the reduced role of Nyssa and some of the grittiness that Eric Saward, for some reason, felt so driven to include at all times. John Dorney, in taking on this story based on a premise by Barbara Clegg, is make it simultaneously a celebration of Peter Davison’s televised era whilst combining it with the development that the Fifth Doctor has enjoyed through Big Finish. There are scenes like the one in the TARDIS in the first part where the Doctor is obviously not sure about having Tegan back as a companion which acknowledge that more time has passed for Nyssa and the Doctor than has for Tegan. The squabbles between the Doctor and Tegan feel natural for the progression of the characters as seen on television, whilst Dorney allows the Fifth Doctor to snipe back at her times, but ultimately, when Aubron insults her intelligence, the Doctor is outraged. Despite their relationship not being fixed by the end of this story, the story almost feels like both the Fifth Doctor and Tegan coming to terms with being back together again, and all that this entails. A moment that feels as though this perfectly encapsulates Tegan coming to terms with travelling is when she and Nyssa are wandering around the city shortly after arriving.

Oh no no no! I know how this story ends. The Doctor tells us to stay put, we wander off, we get captured, lots of people are shot and it all ends badly. I’m sorry, Nyssa, but no. This time, we’re going to exactly what the Doctor says.

Tegan Jovanka

Another aspect that feels in keeping with the era is the appearance of a foe in disguise. In this case, the ‘High Priest’ is revealed to be a Dalek, and this is complete with Nicholas Briggs’ being credited under a pseudonym, which feels reminiscent of Anthony Ainley’s faux credits. As I am talking about the Dalek, it must be said that this is something a bit different for the Doctor’s evil adversary to do. We have seen the danger of a lone Dalek in the new series, in both Dalek and more recently Resolution, but this story sees one sole Dalek doing something a bit different: manipulating the development of society of the Elite through the Church to ensure the development of a Master Race. This Dalek is different, damaged from a crash that occurred ten years before the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrived on the planet of Florana and without the access to power the ‘Cleansing Fire’ which will summon the Dalek fleet. Whilst the reveal of the ‘High Priest’ to be a Dalek at the end of Part 2 didn’t really take me by surprise, it felt like a better reveal than the one of Time-Flight with the Master. Ultimately, by the time that the Doctor and Aubron discuss the nature of the Elite’s society, euthanising those who are deemed not to be of benefit to their society and those over the age of 30, the reveal seems like a matter of time.

We are making –

A Master Race!

Aubron and the Fifth Doctor

Dorney states in the behind the scenes interviews that he even expects that some listeners will jump ahead of the Doctor and realise that the Daleks are involved before this point, and Briggs’ voice is modulated differently but still sounds Dalek-like in its cadence. That being said, the moment where the High Priest is returned to its ‘throne’ and the Dalek heartbeat is heard is a lovely moment. We then come to the twist in Part 3. Once the Dalek is revealed to be at the heart of the Elite’s society, I certainly expected it to be a more traditional story involving the Doctor stopping the Dalek’s machinations, probably involving the arrival of the fleet. The first hint that this was not going to go the way I thought was when the Dalek wanted the Doctor’s help to get off Florana, the second when the seemingly traditional acolyte Thane turns on the Dalek and kills him. This is probably one of the best twists I can remember in a Doctor Who story, and can genuinely say that I didn’t see this one coming.

The main cast all do sterling work here, even if Sarah Sutton is side lined, brainwashed and possessed by the Elite to do their bidding. Even so, it’s enjoyable to hear Sutton joining in with the exterminating towards the end of the story. The focus here is really on Peter Davison and Janet Fielding. I really like Davison’s Doctor in general, but he is particularly great here. Dorney has given him the licence to be quite funny when the story allows it, and Davison delivers these moments nicely. Janet Fielding is often maligned, but she is good here too, and I particularly liked her scenes in the prison with Ella.

Verdict: The Elite is a great story which evokes the feeling of the Fifth Doctor’s era really well. 8/10

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Joe Coen (Aubron), Ryan Sampson (Thane), Derek Carlyle (Alaric), Joannah Tincey (Stemp), Nicholas Briggs (credited as Arthur Wallis, High Priest), John Banks (Garthak) & Ellie Burrow (Ella).

Writer: John Dorney, adapted from an idea by Barbara Clegg

Director: Ken Bentley

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • This story would have fallen after Terminus if it had been made in the 1980s, the story in which Nyssa left the TARDIS.
  • If this story had been broadcast, it would have seen Nyssa’s first meeting with a Dalek. In the intervening years, Nyssa had gone on to face the Daleks in a number of Big Finish stories before this adaptation was released.

Cast Notes

  • Ryan Sampson appeared in the Tenth Doctor story The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky as Luke Rattigan.
  • Joe Coen has appeared in Binary, The Edge and The Battle.
  • Derek Carlyle has appeared in a number of Big Finish stories, including The Death Collectors, Spider’s Shadow and Brotherhood of the Daleks.
  • Joannah Tincey appeared in A Thousand Tiny Wings, Industrial Evolution and The Skin of the Sleek/The Thief Who Stole Time.
  • John Banks has appeared in multiple Big Finish stories, and has appeared alongside the majority of incarnations of the Doctor, including John Hurt and David Tennant.
  • Ellie Burrow appeared in The Jupiter Conjunction and The Four Doctors.

Best Moment

Whilst I saw the reveal of the High Priest being a Dalek coming a mile off, the killing off of this Dalek was a real shock to me.

Best Quote

Let me guess, you’re going to be quite cross with me for a while. Funnily enough, I don’t find that a terribly frightening prospect. Pretty much business as usual!

The Fifth Doctor

Previous Fifth Doctor review: Arc of Infinity

Other Reviews:

Time-Flight

Dalek

Resolution

Embrace the Darkness

The first new dawn in the Cimmerian System for a thousand years. And it’s my fault.

The Eighth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor and Charley travel to the distant Cimmerian system to unravel the mystery of its sun. But darkness has embraced the scientific base on Cimmeria IV in more ways that one…

In a fight for survival, the Doctor must use all his wits against a deadly artificial life-form and an ancient race whose return to the Cimmerian System threatens suffering and death on an apocalyptic scale.

Review

Nicholas Briggs’ early Big Finish stories show promise but ultimately fall short and sadly Embrace the Darkness is in this mould. This story does feature a lot of problems that beset the four part stories in the original run of Doctor Who, including what feels like a shortfall of plot which makes the middle of the story sag a little bit, whilst it also manages to make the finale feel rushed.

Where the story does really succeed, however, is in the audio landscape. Nicholas Briggs has been done a really great job here of creating a creepy and unsettling atmosphere through mostly sound effects rather than music. Like all of the Big Finish audios I have listened to so far for this blog, I listened to this on headphones and this story really felt three-dimensional and believable. The Cimmerian voices are also suitably unnerving and reminded me slightly of the voice of Gollum from The Lord of Rings films. This is also true of The Sword of Orion, Briggs’ previous story for the Eighth Doctor, but this story feels slightly more confident and ever so slightly better.

The story also has an interesting idea in its central premise – a star system devoid of light, afraid of the return of the light due to a belief that it will lead to their destruction. We also have a lot of time spent with the Doctor believing that his actions will lead to the Cimmerians destruction and questioning the effect of his interference. A story set on a planet devoid of light naturally lends itself to audio and helps the listener feel engaged in the story. There are some other stories which use the constraints of audio to their advantage in the Big Finish range – another one that jumps to mind is The End of the Line in which the characters spend a lot of time stranded in thick fog. Whilst this element works really well, the story feels as though it spends a lot of time treading water in the middle, especially as those stranded on the base don’t seem in any urgent hurry to leave in the rescue ship. The story doesn’t take the opportunity to delve into giving the guest characters more characterisation despite a small cast. They can largely be described as being one dimensional, and only really have one defining characteristic each. Orllensa is lucky and has two – she is Russian or at least East European and cynical. We do get some of her bask story but Haliard and Ferras get nothing.

The ending is also pretty poor, with the reveal that the perceived descending army of Solarians are actually Cimmerians feeling both rushed and overly simplistic. It does skirt around the idea of fear enhancing to the point where the Cimmerians are terrified of the light and deprive it of everyone in the system, which leads to some particularly effective body horror when we learn that Orllensa and Ferras have had their eyes burnt out. What I do like about the story is that, despite the Doctor and Charley mentioning the TARDIS and even trying to escape from the advancing Solarians, the story doesn’t allow them to take that shortcut. Despite my issues with the conclusion, I also really like the idea of their ships which are powered by solar sails.

This is not a tremendous story for the Eighth Doctor or Charley, however, McGann and Fisher do some good work here. The story spends a lot of time with the Doctor feeling like a pedestrian to the plot and he seems to spend most of it being quite reactionary but the moments in which he ponders whether interfering in the life of alien races and planets is right. Meanwhile, despite spending most the story apart, Charley doesn’t feel as though she has very much to do. She does have some good moments – I like her reaction when ROSM disables offensive weaponry previously targeted at her. McGann and Fisher feel as though they have really got the relationship between the two characters down and even in a story like this, they are capable of elevating it. The story does not advance the ongoing arc about Charley’s survival and its impact on the Web of Time, although the gathering of the Type 70 TARDISes at the beginning of the story might be hinting at the Time Lords tightening the net, and ROSM states that his readings flag something up as unusual, but nothing more is made of it.

Verdict: A story with an interesting premise and great sound design, which falls down in its execution. The ending feels particularly rushed. 5/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Nicola Boyce (Orllensa), Lee Moone (Ferras), Mark McDonnell (Haliard), Ian Brooker (ROSM/Solarian/Cimmerian) & Nicholas Briggs (Cimmerian Voice).

Writer: Nicholas Briggs

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The story was originally supposed to feature the Morestrans from Planet of Evil, but the rights could not be obtained from the BBC.

Cast Notes

  • Nicola Boyce and Lee Moone also appeared in The Time of Daleks and Neverland, along with Mark McDonnall who also appeared in The Fear Monger and Dalek Empire.
  • Ian Brooker has played numerous roles for Big Finish, most notably playing the shortest lived alternative incarnation of the Doctor (who lived for 11 seconds) in Full Fathom Five.

Best Moment

The build-up to the cliffhanger at the end of the first part, ending with the reveal that Ferras and Orliensa have no eyes.

Best Quote

Your eyes…

What about them?

You’ve lost your eyes.

Charley Pollard and Ferras

Previous Eighth Doctor review: Seasons of Fear

Other Reviews Mentioned:

The Sword of Orion

The Nightmare Fair

A gung ho robot and a ravenous space plumber. We’re going to make an unbeatable combination!

The Sixth Doctor

Synopsis

The TARDIS is drawn to Blackpool in 1986 where the Doctor wants to investigate a space/time vortex whilst enjoying the attractions at the Pleasure Beach along the way. An old enemy is watching from under the amusement park wanting to challenge

Review

Imagine a parallel universe. One where Michael Grade never dropped the axe on Doctor Who and Colin Baker was able to complete his sentence at the end of Resurrection of the Daleks, leading into his second full season as the Doctor. A parallel universe where Doctor in Distress would cease to exist…sounds blissful, doesn’t it?

It’s that parallel universe that Big Finish attempt to give us a glimpse of in their adaptation of The Nightmare Fair, which would have been the opening story for the originally intended Season 23. Unsurprisingly considering the tone of his era as producer, Graham Williams’ script is quite light-hearted and it would have been interesting to see what kind of reception it would have received as it does not feel like a ‘traditional’ season opener, but it does feel like a response to the criticisms of the more violent Season 22.

The Nightmare Fair is a good, if not exceptional, story which does struggle with some pacing issues. The first part of this story feels as though it takes a long time to actually get going, and although the scenes of the Doctor and Peri enjoying the rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach are lovely, it does feel as though it piles more pressure onto the second part. As a result, the second part has to both establish what the Toymaker’s plan is and ultimately rushes the ending. It’s well worth noting at this point that I have not read the novelised version of this story so I can’t say for certain whether this is due to an issue with Williams’ original script or the adaptation to audio, but I must commend the adaptation for feeling as though it would have fit into the era perfectly, even down to the unnecessary continuity references that were rife in this period of the show, especially alluding to characters like Duggan from City of Death. The antagonist of this story was last seen in a First Doctor story, and bringing him back to front up the new season feels like the move of a programme that felt it was too big to fail.

One thing that is noticeable here is that the personality of the Sixth Doctor has changed here. It is no secret that Colin Baker has issues with how his character was written during the time that he was the incumbent on television, and Big Finish has taken steps to make him more of a likeable character. Here, he is a hybrid of the two, which works tonally for the stories broadcast in the 80s, as the Sixth Doctor is certainly an adjusted character when he returns in Trial of a Time Lord. There is a mention in this story that the Doctor and Peri have been travelling together for a while, and it is nice to see that their relationship has shifted in a more positive direction. In the Behind the Scenes feature on this story, producer David Richardson talks about the challenges involved in making sure that the Doctor presented here has similarities with the ones seen on television and heard on other Big Finish productions. There are moments where we see the flashes of the original Sixth Doctor, like when he tells the Celestial Toymaker that he will have him to deal with if anything has happened to Peri. Baker is good here, as he usually is when he has a single antagonist to rail against – the Sixth Doctor is often at his best when exasperated and fighting someone of similar standing to himself.

Big Finish developing characters also has an impact on Peri, as like a lot of companions she has seen her role increased as is now standard with the revived series. Nicola Bryant speaks on the Behind the Scenes feature on this story about her concerns about going back to a reduced role being allayed by this story where she does get a chance to display her resourcefulness, like when she manages to get the gun in Part One.

I detest caging even the wildest beast, Toymaker. But for you, there is no other answer.

The Sixth Doctor

The Celestial Toymaker makes his return here, played by David Bailie, and he puts in a strong performance as the central antagonist. The Toymaker has been trapped on Earth for several millienia, tricking unsuspecting humans into playing games against him and trapping them into immortality in servitude when they lose. He has developed an arcade game which harvests the souls of those who lose to it which then generate powerful creatures, with which the Toymaker intends to take over the World. Bailie is still recognisable as the same character as the one played by Michael Gough but adds some more childish glee in his schemes. Bailie and Baker play off each other beautifully, which help elevate this story which does have some moments that feel as though it is treading water. The Doctor and the audience learn more about the Toymaker, including that he is from an alternative dimension where time moves slowly. I quite liked the resolution to the Toymaker’s story even if it did feel a bit rushed, as I felt it was quite clever. Aside from Bailie, there are very few stand-outs from the guest performers, but I did quite like the character of Shardlow. The rest give rather stilted performances, sadly, which does detract from the story.

Verdict: A story with a good central idea and good performances from Baker, Bryant and Bailie, is let down by some pacing issues. 6/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), David Bailie (The Celestial Toymaker), Matthew Noble (Kevin), Andrew Fettes (Stefan), Louise Faulkner (Woman), William Whymper (Shardlow/Attendant), Toby Longworth (Yatsumoto/Truscott/Manager/Man) & Duncan Wisbey (Humandroid/Security Man/Geoff/Guard).

Writer: Graham Williams (adapted by John Ainsworth)

Director: John Ainsworth

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • This story would have kicked off the 23rd Season of Doctor Who had the show not been put on hiatus. Michael Gough would have returned as the Celestial Toymaker in a story which would have explained his origins. The story would have been partially filmed on location in Blackpool, following on directly from Revelation of the Daleks
  • The audio adaptation by Bigh Finish was the firest release of audio plays of other lost stories.
  • The original story was written by John Nathan-Turner’s predecessor as Producer, Graham Williams. The script was released as a novelisation which was used by the director John Ainsworth to adapt the story for audio. Williams himself passed away in 1990.

Cast Notes

  • Michael Gough had retired from acting by the time of production, so the role was recast with David Bailie. Bailie previously appeared in The Robots of Death and would reprise the role of Celestial Toymaker in Solitaire.
  • Matthew Noble had previously appeared in Cuddlesome and Return to the Web Planet.
  • Andrew Fettes has appeared in numerous Big Finish plays, including The Sirens of Time, the Gallifrey range and The Diary of River Song.
  • Louise Faulkner most notably has appeared in the Bernice Summerfield stories playing Bev Tarrant.
  • William Whymper also appeared in Dead Man’s Switch.
  • Toby Longworth has appeared in a lot of Big Finish including the Doctor Main Range, the Unbound Range, Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme.
  • Duncan Wisbey has appeared in a number of production across the Main Range, the Fourth Doctor Adventures and Jago & Litefoot.

Best Moment

Any moment that the Doctor and the Celestial Toymaker are together.

Best Quote

Ah-ha! There you are! I knew you’d be watching from somewhere. Well, don’t hurry on my account. Just let me know what you want when you’re ready. If I die of boredom before that, I hope you take it personally.

The Sixth Doctor

Previous Sixth Doctor review: Revelation of the Daleks

Seasons of Fear

Seasons of Fear

It was at the Singapore Hilton, on the cusp of the yars 1930 and 1931, that I first met Mr. Sebastian Grayle.

The Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor brings Charley to the Hilton in Singapore, her original destination when she originally boarded the R101, to meet Alex Grayle.  Whilst Charley enjoys her date, the Doctor encounters the immortal Sebastian Grayle, an old adversary of the Doctor whom the Doctor has not met yet.

Unfortunately for the Doctor, Sebastian Grayle succeeded in killing him years before this meeting and he has only come here to gloat.  The Doctor realises that there is something drastically wrong with time and he and Charley have to fix it.

Review

It is perhaps an understatement to say that following the superb Chimes of Midnight is an unenviable task for Seasons of Fear, however, I am pleased to say that this story largely succeeds.  The two are very different stories, with this story a quest through various time eras and it is to the director’s credit that the various periods of history and locations this story contains feel so well developed and different. which certainly helps to make this story to work as well as it does.  It also features a very strong performance from Stephen Perring as the central antagonist Sebastian Grayle, who feels like a juggernaut and the Doctor certainly seems like he is steps behind.

My new state and the slow processes of influence and investment have given a land of my own.  A Bishopric.  And soon they will give me more.

An Earldom, perhaps?

The World, Doctor.  What less could one desire?

Sebastian Grayle (disguised as Leofric) and the Doctor

One of the strongest parts of this story is the performance of Stephen Perring as Sebastian Grayle.  The performance bristles with menace and resentment towards the Doctor, in part down to the Time Lord’s interference in his attempt to become immortal at the end of Part One.  Perring manages to maintain this throughout the story down to the character’s final moments in Part Four and certainly feels like a worthy adversary.  He is frustrated that the Doctor at times isn’t willing to give him his full attention at times and there is a lovely moment where he gets angry as the Doctor switches his attention to Charley instead, resulting in Charley being able to render Grayle unconscious with the TARDIS hatstand.  Grayle’s Masters who have interferred with time to the extent that they have rendered the Time Lords powerless are eventually revealed to be the Nimon, and they certainly work better on audio than they did in the Tom Baker era.  The Nimons attempted to set themselves up as God species on Earth, however, were earlier foiled by Mithrais, who later has a religion set up in his name.  The Nimons are able to exploit Grayle with promises of immortality in return for a sacrifice and setting up a ground station to establish a link between Earth and the Ordinand System, with the opportunity first arrising in 305AD Britain, and then later in 1055 and 1806 when the stars align correctly.  The Nimon are brough to life effectively by Robert Curbishley, and I’d say that they are used sparingly and effectively here.

So, Grayle, or should I say Leofric?  You’ve got yourself a grand old Saxon name now.  Why are you at court?  What are you planning?

Doctor…is that what they called you?  Doctor Who?

My enemies never ask me that.  Isn’t that terrible?  But they know me better than my friends.

The Doctor and Sebastian Grayle

The story is a romp through time which is something that certainly hasn’t been done very much on televison – the only example I can think of in the revived series is Spyfall, Part Two, where the Thirteenth Doctor visits various eras.  Husband and wife writing team Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox do a good job here, with a script that is both quite scary and funny in places.  The scenes in Roman Britain feel unsettling, however, there are elements of dark humour here – there are similarities to the Church of England’s standard services in parts, which no doubt come from Symcox’s experiences as a vicar.  The story ultimates concludes with the innocent original Grayle being so horrified by what he becomes after being given immortality that he kills his older self, which works quite well here too.  I do enjoy this story, however, if I had to pick a minor niggle, I would say that the use of narration is a bit jarring and took me out of the story in places, however, I can understand why it is necessary in a story which includes multiple different time periods and is quite fast paced at times.  The story also reveals that the disruptions to time are a consequence of the Doctor saving Charley from the R-101, an important arc that would continue through the next few stories

Paul McGann and India Fisher are on fine form here and have a really easy chemistry which makes their relationship work really well.  The Doctor and Charley have certainly settleed into an easy relationship and both of them are likeable – this is probably one of my favourite TARDIS pairings.  Outside of this central dynamic, I really enjoyed Lennox Graves and Sue Wallace as Edward the Confessor and Edith of Wessex respectively.  Both certainly bring a lot of regality to their performances and they are playing historical figures who personally interest me and are not really very commonly featured in drama.  This is surprising considering how important Edward the Confessor is in the grand scheme of British history, even if he is known for the chaos he left in his wake by essentially allowing anyone and everyone to inherit the throne on his death in 1066, leading to the Norman invasion.

Verdict: Seasons of Fear is another strong story for the Eighth Doctor and Charley which features a strong antagonist and a good story jumping through different time periods, which each feel distinct thanks to good direction. 8/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Stephen Perring (Sebastien Grayle), Stephen Fewell (Lucillius/Richard Martin), Lennox Greaves (Edward the Confessor), Sue Wallace (Edith), Robert Curbishley (Marcus/Nimon voice), Justine Mitchell (Lucy Martin), Don Warrington (Rassilon) & Gareth Jenkins (Waiter/Prisoner).

Writer: Paul Cornell & Caroline Symcox

Director: Gary Russell

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The first appearance of the Nimon since The Horns of Nimon.

Cast Notes

This story boasts a lot of actors who have been involved in Big Finish productions, which I have done my best to list the most significant of below:

  • Stephen Perring (The Eyes of the Scorpion, Zagreus and the Kro’ka during the Eighth Doctor’s time in the Divergent Universe);
  • Stephen Fewell (Red DawnThe One Doctor, Zagreus and The Twilight Kingdom, and also Jason Kane in the Bernice Summerfield stories);
  • Lennox Graves (The Shadow of the Scourge, The Chimes of Midnight, The Condemned and The Whispering Forest);
  • Sue Wallace (The Chimes of Midnight and The Whispering Forest);
  • Robert Curbishley (The Fires of VulcanThe Chimes of MidnightThe Time of the DaleksThe Church and the Crown and The Game;
  • Gareth Jenkins worked for the company ERS who did sound design and post production for Big Finish.  He also appears in Dust Breeding and Bang-Bang-a-Boom!
  • Don Warrington makes his first appearance here as Rassilon.  He went onto appear in Rise of the Cybermen.

Best Quote

I’d like to lock him in here for a while, but left alone he could do serious damage.  besides, in the end he would get out of any confinement.  That’s one of the wonderful things about Lady Time, isn’t it?  How nothing’s constant, how everything decays and changes?

You call that wonderful?

I call that absolutely beautiful.  How would it be if everything was always the same?  If you never got too big for your dresses, if you never got to pass them on to you sister?  If the rainy autumn lasted forever and spring never came?  At least I change.  I’m stumbling my way through bodies like I own a particularly dangerous bicycle.  Grayle never changes, not inside.  Not who he is.

The Doctor and Charley Pollard

Previous Eighth Doctor review: Living Legend

Living Legend

Doctor Who - Living Legend

Synopsis

The world faces imminent destruction when Italy win the 1982 World Cup!  Can the fabled Time Lord Charleyostiantayshius save humanity from the dreaded Threllip Empire, or will her idiot companion, the Doctor, ruin everything?

Review

At only 20 minutes long, this story is a bit different and quite difficult to review.  It seems to fit logically between Invaders from Mars and Seasons of Fear as a short 20 minute adventure for the Eighth Doctor and Charley before everything escalates towards Neverland and Zagreus.  As such, it’s not essential listening, but as it is free and quite a lot of fun, I would recommend giving it a listen.

Whilst short, this story does have some nice moments fbetween the Doctor and Charley and the chemistry between Paul McGann and India Fisher is evident.  The story revolves around the Doctor and Charley switching places, with Charley becoming the Doctor-like role and the Doctor playing her companion and in a story that is largely light hearted, there are nice moments of them both mocking the Time Lords and their garb.  The alien species, the Threllips are also played largely for laughs, with both actors using West Country accents.

As mentioned, the story is quite light and fun.  Unlike other alien invasions in Doctor Who, the invasion is foiled quite comically.  The Doctor takes Vengorr to the Italian village of Ferrara where the citizens are celebrating their World Cup win and convinces the alien that he has contracted World Cup Fever, whilst Charley tells Thon that he goes down as a mere footnote in Vengorr’s history.  It is difficult to imagine a story being televised where the Doctor convincing an antagonist that the only way to cure the fever is to drink a copious amount of wine.  I think if this was a full four part storyline played in the same way it would really grate on me, but as it is, it works really nicely.  It is perhaps surprising that Scott Gray has not been asked back to write for the Eighth Doctor again.

Verdict: A fun interlude before the story delves into the Web of Time, Living Legend is a nice fun story.  7/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Stephen Perring (Vengorr) & Conrad Westmaas (Thon)

Writer: Scott Gray

Director: Gary Russell

Behind the Scenes

  • This story was released with Doctor Who Magazine issue 337, along with a documentary about the making of the 40th anniversary story, Zagreus.

Cast Notes

  • Stephen Perring has appeared in a number of Big Finish audio stories, with his most prominent roles being the Kro’ka during the Eighth Doctor’s time in the Divergent Universe and Mathias in the Gallifrey audio series.
  • Conrad Westmaas was also heavily involved in the Eighth Doctor’s audios as companion C’rizz.

Previous Eighth Doctor review: Invaders from Mars