Doctor Who: Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker & Robert Perry (BBC, 1997); audiobook read by Sophie Aldred (Bolinda, 2016) Blandly written and at least twice as long as it needed to be. Great chunks of the story involve treading water, running around pointlessly, and building up characters (both major and minor) that turn out to be nothing more than gross…
Doctor Who: Dark Universe by Guy Adams (Big Finish, 2020) Even if his schizophrenic personalities lack individual depth, the Eleven is a villain to be reckoned with and one of Big Finish’s great contributions to Who. Adams scripts a story of conscious bravura that deflates with the Seventh Doctor’s usual cop-out masterminding.
Doctor Who: Planet of Evil by Louis Marks; dir. David Maloney (BBC, 1975) The overlooked classic of the Tom Baker years. Planet of Evil makes the most of its premise, combining a nuanced script with tight direction and some seriously good acting (particularly from its leads). Roger Murray-Leach’s alien jungle set constitutes a series highpoint.
Doctor Who: Tick-Tock World by Guy Adams (Big Finish, 2019) A more-or-less successful mix of experimental SF and character overhaul. The production team at Big Finish still seem uncertain how to develop Susan—her emotions, maturity, competence and relationships fade in and out—but at least they’re trying. Well worth a listen.
The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. Nick Hurran (BBC, 2013) Like many of Moffat’s ‘big’ scripts, this has a rushed, scattershot feel—not from poor conceptualisation but from trying to cram too much into too little space. That said, there are plenty of nice moments. The interaction amongst Doctors is perfectly pitched.
Doctor Who: The Phoenicians by Marc Platt (Big Finish, 2019) It’s easy to envisage this historical adventure as part of Doctor Who’s first season. Platt spends time developing Ian and Barbara’s relationship, and pays some attention to women’s search for independence. David Bradley is on form, his interpretation idiosyncratic yet not unfaithful.
Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End by Sophie Aldred (BBC, 2020); audiobook read by Sophie Aldred (BBC, 2020) An unexpectedly proficient debut novel. The prose rarely sparkles but Aldred builds the story well, bridging the 30-year divide between Season 26 (dark manipulations) and Series 12 (sparkly rainbow TARDIS family). Her audiobook reading affords Ace’s journey a further layer of authenticity. …
Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks by Eric Saward; dir. Matthew Robinson (BBC, 1984) This serial begins with eerie promise and impressive acting/characterisation but degenerates into a confused mess, redeemed only by the pathos of Tegan’s departure. The Daleks (as so often in Doctor Who) have the intellectual sophistication of tantrum-prone toddlers with no inner monologue.
Doctor Who: Free Speech by Eugenie Pusenjak; performed by Jacob Dudman (Big Finish, 2020) A trifle simplistic in its resolution. This story would have benefited from some explanation as to how the scenario came about, and a deeper exploration of its effects. Nonetheless, it’s a nice idea and a very good portrayal of the Tenth Doctor.
Doctor Who: The Best-Laid Plans by Ben Tedds; performed by Jacob Dudman (Big Finish, 2019) The Twelfth Doctor runs interference so as to reform an amoral ideas man. A sound premise but the confrontation/denouement is clunky and the SF trappings come across as badly degraded Douglas Adams pastiche. Narrator Jacob Dudman breathes some life into the prose.