The Twelfth Doctor is played and narrated by vocal chameleon Jake Dudman in this new set of adventures, featuring some familiar voices from the Twelfth Doctors TV exploits.
The Charge of the Night Brigade by David Llewellyn
The Doctor arrives in the rat infested Chimera, 1855, where Mary Seacole (Mandi Symonds) has opened up the “British Hotel”, where she tends over the wounded and hungry soldiers needing somewhere to stay. When recuperating soldiers start to act possessed before dying and the rats get restless, the Doctor realises there is an alien presence at work.
Llewelyn writes the earlier more prickly version of the Twelfth Doctor in this script. It’s a lovely merge of well researched history and otherworldly menace. Symonds shows the strength and compassion needed to play, the too often under talked about, Seacole. This is a wonderful love letter to her good works. I really enjoy these Who stories that give us more on a now less talked about time and, in this case, war.
The story starts by building the atmosphere and ramps up the pace as it goes, as if we are experiencing the menace of the piece with the Doctor and Seacole, which is very effective.
War Wounds by Mark Wright
when Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) finds the Tardis in a classroom, whilst Clara is away on a school trip, he decides to have it out with the Doctor. After entering the Tardis however he ends up stowing away to an alien planet. Before he knows it, Danny is in the middle of a war and he and the Doctor must work together to protect someone in danger from there own side as much as the ones they are fighting. Danny must convince, the unusually reluctant, Doctor to help. Can the Doctor see passed Danny’s own past as a soldier long enough to do so?
It’s not only gripping listening to have Danny and the Doctor working / bickering side by side, without Clara, but it gives us a dynamic we never got to see in the TV show. We get to explore more of why Danny left the service and his conflicted feeling about his time as a soldier. It forces the Doctor to see Danny as a more rounded person (even if he isn’t very nice about it at times) and visa versa. It also does all this without treating on the sequence of events we know that follows.
The script by Wright really give Dudman and Anderson so much to play with and an original kind of story of war and soldiers who work for their people and won’t blindly follow orders.
Distant Voices by Lizbeth Myles
Cameron (Emily Redpath) really enjoys her job and life in contemporary Earth, giving tourist tours of Rochester Castle, but she finds herself plagued by voices and most recently a white hair Scotsman. When she, and said Scotsman, find themselves unanchored in time, all she wants is to go home. Be careful what you wish for.
This is one of those audio stories where you can almost see how it would look on the screen as TV Doctor Who but perhaps with the higher end of an episodes budget to do it justice. The kind of episode they would have to cut the budget on two other episodes, just to make it. Thankfully in audio, we can enjoy the budget of our imaginations… endless!
This has everything. Time travel, a haunted castle, a great battle over multiple time zones, high emotional stakes and a Doctor who can only save the day, not necessarily everyone involved. It is so well structured and the acting is top notch. This is the kind of story Doctor Who, especially in Big Finish form, is made for.
Field Trip by Una McCormack
The moment Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) has waited all her life for is finally here. The Doctor has come to take her on an adventure, to another planet. Osgood will soon realise exactly all the running, quick thinking, danger, invasion foiling and political machinations that really entails… and she wouldn’t miss it for thIs world or any other.
Oliver takes as much relish as Osgood herself at finally going off planet. The story is a choice mix of adventure and thoughtful drama. It focuses on, in part, strip mining a planet for its natural resources. The kind of real world allegory Doctor Who has running through its entire history like a stick of rock.
There is a fun feeling that the Doctor might just have brought Osgood along so he didn’t have to bother with the political side of Things, but gets more than he could have hoped for in how much she helps.
All the writers and director Helen Goldwyn give a beautiful pace to the four stories, each of which shows a different side to the Twelfth Doctor and gives him different challenges. Jake Dudman is as powerful a narrator setting the scene as he is the Twelfth Doctor – almost rudely talented, as he’s already pitch perfect as the Eleventh Doctor. Both the stars returning from TV Who as well as the new guest cast are all a delight and this really is a nigh on flawless set.