The First Doctor Adventures Volume One (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 4 January 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The First Doctor Adventures (Credit: Big Finish)

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: Matt Fitton, Guy Adams
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


David Bradley (The Doctor), Claudia Grant (Susan), Jemma Powell (Barbara Wright), Jamie Glover (Ian Chesterton), James Dreyfus (The Master), Raymond Coulthard (Robac / Servers / Dalmari), Sian Reeves (Tanna), Deli Segal (Reena), Jackson Milner (Patrick), Cory English (Daniel), Carolina Valdes (Rosalita), Ronan Summers (O'Connell), Christopher Naylor (Policeman / Man with Ladder / Gang Member / Henry). Other parts played by members of the cast.

David Bradley won over many a Who fan's heart with his performance as William Hartnell in the 2013 docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time, released as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations.  He may not be the spitting image of Hartnell, or even really sound anything like him...but he managed to capture that spirit and essence of the actor, to the point where you believed he was Hartnell, or even the Doctor.  Bradley got a crack at being the legitimate Doctor this Christmas in Twice Upon a Time, and he has also recorded this box set for Big Finish (the first of at least two Volumes), featuring two stories covering a total of eight episodes. 

This boxset not only brings Bradley back as the Doctor, but also three of his co-stars from the TV movie are reunited to play his original companions.  It's sort of an odd concept when you think about it, they've completely recast the original cast of the show, with people who previously didn't play these roles, but the actors behind those roles.  But yet...this set really works well.  I mentioned in my review of Big Finish's The Morton Legacy, that I personally felt the mixing the audiobook format with the full-cast format didn't really work, and I suggested that while it might not be everyone's favorite idea, recasting with a good soundalike, might be a better option for recreating the feel of tht era. This set does a full recast of everyone, even the actors that are still with us...and the results are actually great. This boxset did a fantastic job of recapturing the tone and feel of that first season of the series. Even down to each episode in both serials in the set having their own individual titles!

The first story in the set is The Destination Wars is great science fiction story featuring a previously unknown early version of the Master.  The Master wasn't originally introduced until the Third Doctor's time on screen, so The First Doctor never face him on screen, yet this story feels like it could've been a 60s tale, and the story is written as if this is the first time the Doctor has met the Master away from Gallifrey, their first run in as hero and enemy, and it sort of sets up the kind of relationship they would have in the 70s and and 80s.  James Dreyfus is also, it should be noted, a pretty fantastic Master.  Very much like a proto-Delgado...just sinister and methodical.  It was made clear in some of the behind the scenes stuff in this set that he has recorded more stories as this incarnation of the Master.  I'd love to hear those!

That story ends with it's final episode leading right into the events of opening episode of the the second story...and this time it is a pure historical story!  Just as the early days of the show almost always would have a sci-fi story followed by a pure historical, and almost always lead directly into each other, this set follows suit.  This second story, The Great White Hurricane, has our heroes get embroiled with gangs and a woman trying to escape her abusive spouse in 1888 New York City, during the Great Blizzard that occured that year.  Much like my view of those early seasons, I personally prefer the sci-fi over the historcial.  But like quite a few historicals, there is some good stuff in here, and a part of me wishes the show could do a pure historical from time to time. 

Bottom line, this set is great for anyone who loved the First Doctor's era. Everything from the kinds of stories, to the more subdued sound effects and slower pace, it just feels like it has been plucked from 1963.  Bradley and co. do a great job, and I particularly liked the addition of James Dreyfus as the Master.  This is top notch stuff, highly recommended!