The Lost Stories: The Queen of Time (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Ruddock

The Lost Stories: The Queen of Time
Written by Brian Hayles
Adapted by Catherine Harvey
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Released Oct 2013 by Big Finish

Poor old Brian Hayles. He gave us some great bad guys in the Celestial Toymaker and the Ice Warriors in six (credited) Doctor Who stories between 1966 and 1974 - but he was often heavily rewritten as his ideas overreached what a TV show could manage, especially on a small budget.

His first effort, The Celestial Toymaker, is credited to him, but the final script was rewritten beyond recognition by first Donald Tosh then Gerry Davis. He had a little more luck from here on, but was still frequently sent back to make changes, or subject to rewrites.

A prolific writer, bursting with ideas, Hayles submitted many stories to Doctor Who over the course of around a decade, but most of his ideas were rejected on grounds of suitability or cost. According to Terrance Dicks, who had to rewrite large chunks of The Seeds of Death and The Monster of Peladon himself, Hayles was an affable man, and was very understanding of the required changes, but it must have been a frustration for him.

The Queen of Time, as presented here by Big Finish as a hybrid Lost Story/Companion Chronicle is one of Hayles' rejected efforts, adapted from a 1968 outline into a full script by Catherine Harvey. Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury take the lead here as Jamie and Zoe, with Hines again on double duty with his uncannily good impression of Patrick Troughton's second Doctor. The cast is completed by Caroline Faber as the eponymous Queen of Time, Hecuba, who gives a great performance - moving effortlessly between flirting and fury. Faber does a great job here, playing Hecuba as a charming yet vicious femme-fatale, playing cat and mouse with the Doctor whilst casually putting Jamie and Zoe through hell. It's a very strong performance, one that reminds you of the lack of strong villainesses in much of the original series. The only slight criticism I have is that there's maybe a little too much of Hecuba's maniacal laughter going on at times. Hines and Padbury are excellent as ever. They occasionally sound older, unavoidable, given the passage of time - but both recapture their characters effortlessly, and the same old chemistry is at work. Hines' take on the second Doctor continues to impress, it's so good that you could easily forget that it isn't Troughton you're listening to.

The Queen of Time begins with Hecuba's beautiful laughing face appearing on the TARDIS scanner, inviting the Doctor to dinner. Hecuba wastes no time in separating the Doctor from his companions, leaving them to complete a variety of sinister trials whilst he squirms over the revolting dinner she provides and tries to find a way out of her realm. This story is surreal, and has some elements in common with The Mind Robber. The sound design is very effective, with inventive use of gramophone records, and ticking clocks. There are also some similarities to Star Trek, with the crew faced against a godlike being capable of terrible things. The story would have been very difficult to pull off in 1968 in this form, being very visual and quite graphic in places - the food really is disgusting, and there are Alice in Wonderland rug-pulls of reality, and slavering dragon creatures. This has the result of making this tale quite narration-heavy, as there's a lot to picture here, and consequently a lot to describe.

Nevertheless, The Queen of Time is great fun, and recaptures the Season Six TARDIS team to great effect. It's also possibly the only Doctor Who story to make a plot point of a thrown brioche.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Second Doctor - Audio - 178178096X