Producer & Script: Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: James Goss
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Cast: Lisa Bowerman (Narrator)
Or the lost Sylvester McCoy Christmas Special....this festive, but very dark story finds the seventh Doctor and Bernice Summerfield visiting a planet that celebrates Christmas for just two weeks of the year, where mince pies are considered one of your five a day, and Christmas jumpers must be worn ( seven fits in quite well here then!). But in true Who fashion, something is not quite wrong, and the locals are revolting...
Now, please reader - don't judge me, I need to start this review by saying that I have never listened to a Big Finish that featured Bernice Summerfield as the companion (I'm still a relative Big Finish novice - but thanks to DWN, I'm getting there!). I was, of course, aware of the character, and it was a pleasant surprise for me to read that Lisa Bowerman has been playing the role since 1998. The character herself was of course created by Paul Cornell as a literary post-Ace companionin the New Adventures back in 1992, but I'm sure that you all know this already!
I was actually blown away by the character of Bernice, someone who in this story has a very established relationship with the Doctor. Lisa Bowerman voices the story very well (have a look at the credits - Bowerman also directs this story!), she gets McCoy's very Scottish 'burr' spot on. Bernice Summerfield is obviously a very feisty character who has no problem taking chances and standing up to the Doctor when the need arises.
The Doctor here is at his absolute most playful and mysterious, the story contains a lot of true to form seventh doctor moments - apparently he uses a toffee hammer to mend his train-set, and only likes
jigsaw puzzles with missing pieces of blue sky. He is portrayed essentially as a child at Christmas, which I think quite fits the character. Bernice is there to make weary excuses for his odd behaviour, and to put him back on the right track, just like one of his broken train-sets. The vocal ticks of the Doctor are excellently realised, and you can imagine them all fitting neatly into a McCoy episode. "Ah! Corridors!" particularly made this listener smile.
The story is cleverly book ended by Summerfield visiting a robotic therapist. She wants the therapist to help her forget the Doctor, to remove all traces of him from her mind. Now with a genius lead-in like that, I was instantly drawn into the story. I was needing to know what had happened to make Bernice want to erase all trace of the Time Lord from her life. There are plenty of surprises, and beware - the story does veer from fluffy Christmas, to something rather disturbing quite quickly - oh - and the final reveal is a joy.
The Hesitation Deviation is written by James Goss, who of course is more than adept at jotting out the odd short story for Big Finish. He knows the material so well, you know you are in safe hands. The running time is a very brief 35 minutes, but this only makes things more tense. Download it and have a listen, I promise that if you are a fan of Sylvester McCoy interpretation of our favourite Time Lord, you won't be disappointed.
The Hesitation Deviation is available from Big Finish as a digital download now.