The Ultimate Evil

Synopsis

With the TARDIS working perfectly, the Doctor and Peri use a gadget from the storage locker to find a holiday destination. On arriving on the seemingly peaceful planet of Tranquelya, they find that a hate ray is sweeping the continent, turning the civilians into rampant beasts and it can only originate from the other continent, home to their ancient enemies, Ameliarians.

Review

I came into this story with quite high expectations thanks to enjoying The Elite and enjoying The Nightmare Fair. Sadly, The Ultimate Evil feels a bit of a disappointment. Whilst the idea at the story’s core is a good one, it is let down by some poorly written dialogue and overacting.

One thing that is fantastic about this story is the sound design by Nigel Fairs, which does phenomenal work in evoking the Sixth Doctor’s television era. It is small things like this that really make a big difference to these Lost Stories and gives a narrative shorthand to where we are in the timeline of the Doctor and Peri’s relationship, for instance. In all of the Lost Stories that I’ve reviewed so far, the music and general sound design has been fantastic for establishing this. Helen Goldwyn’s direction also helps to recreate the feeling of a continuation from Season 23, and largely manages to keep the guest performances on the right side of overblown. That being said, she can’t do very much about the fact that Mordant

I think the biggest problem with The Ultimate Evil is that it feels pretty derivative of Vengeance on Varos, which, in my opinion is a far superior story. The very nature of having an antagonist who is watching the Doctor’s every move feels familiar and the general atmosphere of the story feels very gritty, which is both a plus and a minus. I’m not sure that Doctor Who, regardless of trouble behind the scenes, could have survived having two back-to-back Seasons with the tone of Season 22. Ultimately, the story feels so genuine Saward-era Doctor Who because the Doctor and Peri are absent from the main action for over thirty minutes of the narrative. It is no secret that Eric Saward was not in favour of the casting of Colin Baker as the Doctor, and the way he dealt with this was by keeping the Doctor apart from the action for as long as he possibly could. As much as I liked the Doctor’s outrage and feelings of betrayal that the TARDIS is working perfectly when he has nowhere in particular to be, the longer this scene goes on it just feels like a diversion. That being said, Daly’s story does having some interesting ideas. I like the idea of weaponising emotions like anger and fear, that Mordant is attempting to sell to the Tranquelans to restart the war with their neighbouring continent. I also liked the fact that when the Doctor visited them to warn them of the impending attack, the Amelierians were not the traditional peaceful society that we see in other stories, for instance Genesis of the Daleks. There are also ideas that aren’t developed fully, for instance, the fact that Peri is a doppelganger for Mariana, who dies at the beginning of the story. Despite being mentioned a couple of times and being given as justifications for the Tranquelans being so angry when the Doctor and Peri arrive, not very much else is done with this, and ultimately it feels pointless when it is revealed that Mariana is, in fact alive in the story’s closing moments.

The guest cast here are really quite similar and there are few stand-out performances. Mordant feels like rehash of Sil as well, which is ultimately disappointing and as he spends what feels like most of the story maniacally laughing, it is difficult to take him too seriously. Robin Sebastian does his best with what is essentially a one-dimensional villain who feels as though he is ultimately dispatched too easily by the Doctor. Guy Burgess does bring some feelings of distrust and sliminess to the character of Escoval, the traitor, but otherwise they are pretty non-descript.

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are pretty good here, even if the narrative sees them spend most of the story apart. They are both particularly good in the opening TARDIS scenes, which highlights how their relationship has become a bit more amiable. Colin Baker and script editor John Dorney reflect on how the character has changed in the interviews, highlighting elements like the Doctor’s tendency to repeat words getting more and more outraged as a shorthand to do this, which is something that I hadn’t really noticed before.

Verdict: Sadly, The Ultimate Evil is quite bland and derivative, which is a shame because it does have an interesting idea at its heart. It’s worth a listen but probably doesn’t have much replay value. 3/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown/Mariana), Robin Sebastian (Mordant), Kim Durham (Abatan), Guy Burgess (Escoval), Jack Forsyth-Noble (Locas), Paul Panting (Ravlos), Issy Van Randwyck (Koreelya), Jack Myers (Shankel/Leader) & Wally K Daly (The Bird).

Writer: Wally K Daly

Director: Helen Goldwyn

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Big Finish did attempt to obtain the rights for this story in the original run of Lost Stories, however, Wally K Daly was involved in adapting the story for a version for the RNIB. The story had previously been novelised for Target Books.
  • Had the story been made for television, it would have been directed by Fiona Cumming.

Cast Notes

  • Robin Sebastian has also appeared in The Masquerade of Death and Imperatrix.
  • Paul Panting has appeared in a number of Big Finish plays, including Revenge of the Swarm and Mistfall.
  • Issy Van Randwyck has appeared in Family Matters, Requiem for the Doctor and Carnival of Angels.

Best Quote

Look at this, Peri!

Hmm…an ostrich egg on a plinth.

You have no idea. Follow me!

The Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown

Previous Sixth Doctor Review: The Nightmare Fair

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

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