Written by John Dorney, Jamie Anderson, Christopher Cooper, and Matthew Elliott
Directed by Ken Bentley
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Jon Culshaw (Keith/Guard/Chafal), Kim Wall (Chimbly), Nadine Marshall (Katrice/Kordel), Amrita Acharia (The Resurrectionist/Clerk), Juliet Cowan (Bryer/Adriana Beauvais), Oliver Dimsdale (Morecombe/Mervyn Garvey), George Potts (Ruben/Guard), Vinette Robinson (Cynthia Quince)
Big Finish Productions - Released December 2015
Big Finish’s final main range release for 2015 is an anthology release of four separate single episode stories with a linking thread. These anthology releases have become something of an annual tradition with a reputation for being one of the highlights of the Big Finish calendar so this release has a lot to live up to. In this instance, we join the Seventh Doctor and Ace in the aftermath of the departure of Hex in 2014’s SignsandWonders. Ace is attempting to learn how to pilot the TARDIS but try as she might she can’t seem to get the old girl to take her and the Doctor to Australia. Her failed attempts are a linking theme between the stories and the suggested explanation cues up the events of the Doctor and Ace’s next appearance in ALifeofCrime, released in June 2016.
You Are The Doctor by John Dorney is a rather uniquely audio take on the classic Choose your own adventure format with choices to be made at the end of each track as to what decision the Doctor and Ace should take. If you think this reviewer enjoyed this unusual format then continue reading onto the next paragraph. If you think that this reviewer enjoyed the characters rather than the story itself then skip to the third paragraph.
You chose the second paragraph, unfortunately for you this reviewer found that after the first couple of times of listening to two different variations of the same scene, the first of which invariably resulted in one of both of our regulars being killed the format was rather grating. The only consolation being that there was a reasonable explanation provided for the alternate versions of events at the story’s conclusion. You chose unwisely, go back to the beginning and start again.
Congratulations, you correctly guessed that this reviewer’s favourite part of the story was the characters especially the Porcians played by Kim Wall, reprising his role of Chimbly from 2012 release TheFourthWall, this time joined by the excellent Jon Culshaw in the first of several roles in this anthology as Chimbly’s wife Keith. You have chosen wisely and may continue to the second story.
Come Die With Me by Jamie Anderson finds the Doctor and Ace in a much more typical scenario of strange goings in a spooky old house where they have somehow been brought at the behest of the mysterious (and strangely uncredited) Mr Norris to solve an apparently unsolvable murder mystery. This neat little story, which is Anderson’s first sojourn into the world of Doctor Who is clearly a paean to Ghost Light although perhaps it belongs in the true crime section.
The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel by Christopher Cooper opens with Ace on trial for a murder which, naturally, she didn’t commit facing a sinister Judge (Jon Culshaw, this time showing his darker side). The gravity of the situation is made clear through the tolling of an ominous sounding bell which on its own gave this reviewer shivers. Through flashbacks we learn that what led to Ace’s current predicament and how it seems that the Doctor (aka “the Approaching Inclement Weather System”) is up to his usual manipulative tricks during an investigation into strange goings on in the eponymous Betelgeuse hotel.
Dead to the World by Matthew Elliott concludes this set of stories with a straightforward tale with a few comic twists which finds the Doctor and Ace on board a tourist ship which has fallen foul of a plague sent by intergalactic estate agents with an unhealthy interest in planet Earth. Viewers of The Sarah Jane Adventures will no doubt recognise the star turn in this story from Juliet Cowan as the unsympathetic ship’s Captain Adriana Beauvais. The Doctor is able to offer a whole new meaning to the term hard bargaining.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable quartet of single episode adventures with the final reveal of the clues linking all four stories being particularly enjoyable. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are on great form and it is a relief to hear them both having fun rather than dwelling overly on the angst-ridden events of previous releases. Based on this release, the annual anthology continues to be a highlight and it to be hoped that the latest 2016 release TheMemoryBank will also live up to expectations.
You Are The Doctor and Other Stories is available to buy now from amazon.co.uk