Doctor Who: The Zygon Who Fell To Earth by Paul Magrs (Big Finish, 2008) A pleasantly small-scale invasion story with a focus on relationships, humbugged somewhat by overtly manipulative, aggressively heart-rending incidental music. Steven Pacey is a welcome addition to the voice cast, as is Tim Brooke-Taylor in his one, gloriously understated appearance for Big Finish.
Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora by Louis Marks; dir. Rodney Bennett (BBC, 1976) Tom Baker is in fine fettle as the Doctor swashbuckles around a rather small-looking historical adventure, countering an alien threat that he himself has enabled. Elisabeth Sladen brings matchless nuance to her performance. Giuliano narrowly survives a foreshadowing of Blackadder’s Lord Percy.
Doctor Who: The Kairos Ring by Stephen Gallagher; read by Steven Pacey (BBC Audio, 2021) A novelette that would have benefited from a longer treatment. Gallagher is an accomplished writer peddling a nifty idea, but Romana has too little involvement (especially for a Doctor-less story) and the threat, having been built up, is vanquished rather too easily.
Doctor Who: The Book of Kells by Barnaby Edwards (Big Finish, 2010) A solid historical adventure, commendably underplayed (albeit mostly a veiled character set-up). Paul McGann is excellent as ever, his delivery a sublime and mercurial mix of conceit, solemnity, flippancy and suppressed wrath. Goodies fans will appreciate a well-pitched appearance by Graeme Garden.
Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor by Chris Chibnall; dir. Jamie Magnus Stone (BBC, 2022) Grandiloquent, saccharine, but something of a wet dream for longstanding Who fans. The plot is bonkers (not in such a bad way) and trades nostalgia for closure. Amidst the series-spanning Easter egg hunt, Sacha Dhawan gives the one performance of independent merit.
Doctor Who: The Annihilators by Nicholas Briggs (Big Finish, 2022) Excellent voice performances by the actors recast to play classic Doctor Who characters. Conceptually, the story is fun and era-appropriate (albeit not much more than a rehash of Galaxy 4). The execution, however, is unnecessarily choppy, disavowing any hint of longer scenes.
Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks by David Whitaker; dir. Derek Martinus (BBC, 1967/2021) A moody story that stays pleasingly small-scale for the majority of its seven episodes. While the premise proves a bit batty, Dudley Simpson’s incidental music keeps the viewer invested. The animation flatters the Daleks and rises to something near resplendence on Skaro.
Doctor Who: The Lichyrwick Abomination by Joe Vevers; audiobook read by Jacob Dudman (Big Finish, 2021) A curiously meandering short story. While Vevers focusses on moodiness and setting, the core of the premise itself—Malcolm’s guilt—becomes lost in the mist. Dudman’s reading goes some way towards salvaging the production but it’s still a bit of a muddle.
Doctor Who: The Night of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. John Hayes (BBC, 2013) Prior to ‘The Day of the Doctor’, fans were given 6 minutes 49 seconds in which to celebrate Paul McGann and to lament his not being given a full special (or indeed an entire series) or being cast as the War Doctor.
Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp by Gareth Roberts; dir. Graeme Harper (BBC, 2008) Consciously overplayed comedy serving as a mid-season palate cleanser. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are obviously enjoying themselves. The story, while hokey, has enough of an idea to remain credible, poking gentle fun both at itself and at the murder mystery genre.