Written by Philip Lawrence
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Cast: William Russell (Ian/The Doctor), Maureen O'Brien (Vicki/Narrator) Jemma Powell(Barbara/Fula), James Joyce (Jospa), Kate Byers (Sharna), Elliot Cowan (Gark) and Orlando James (Krube)
Big Finish Productions – Released October 2016
This reviewer is still something of a newcomer to Big Finish’s Early Adventures range. The premise of producing something closer to a full cast audio drama, but still with narration so that the finished story resembles the soundtrack to a missing television adventure is enjoyable one and on the basis of this release there is just a much potential for new adventures for the first two Doctors as with the popular Companion Chronicles range.
It is quite difficult to review this particular story without straying into what might be considered as spoiler territory but this reviewer will attempt to avoid giving away too much.
At the centre of this story is the Fifth Traveller of the title. Jospa is a potential new companion, who is enjoyably brought to life by James Joyce. Joyce is a clearly versatile actor who has made a number of previous Big Finish appearances and is already established as a series regular in both the Charlotte Pollard and UNIT – The New Series spin-offs. Jospa is introduced as already being a member of the TARDIS crew having apparently joined during a previous unseen adventure set on 31st Century Earth, he is a young man of a similar age to Vicki. However, there are clues for attentive listeners which sign post the mystery at the heart of this story which become more obvious during the third and fourth episodes. Whilst the resulting revelations may not come as a complete surprise, they still make for an exciting listen as the story builds to its climax.
The other regular cast are on great form with elder statesmanWilliam Russell doing a sterling job voicing both the Doctor and Ian and Maureen O’Brien managing a wonderfully youthful Vicki who shares some excellent scenes with Jospa, whilst also providing the story’s narration. They are given excellent support in her second Big Finish appearance in the role of Barbara by Jemma Powell, who portrayed Jacqueline Hill in An Adventure in Space and Time. This reviewer had not experienced the “new” Barbara before but was pleased that she fitted in well and seemed to very much embody the charst acter rather than attempting to overly impersonate Hill’s original portrayal. The remaining cast, Kate Byers, Elliot Cowan, and Orland James were an excellent ensemble and as ever with this series and many of the Companion Chronicles before it, benefitted from clear direction from Lisa Bowerman. The sound design and music by Toby Hrycek-Robinson felt very much in keeping with the television series of 1965.
Overall, this is an excellent contribution to Big Finish’s expansion of the adventures of the First Doctor. This reviewer is writing on the fiftieth anniversary of William Hartnell’s final regular appearance in the part he loved and one cannot help but reflect that it is a fitting tribute that his portrayal is still inspiring such great storytelling so many years later. Long may it continue.