Short Trips: Series 6 #1-3 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen

Gardens of the Dead (Credit: Big Finish / Mark Plastow)Gardens of the Dead
Written by Jenny T Colgan, directed by Lisa Bowerman, narrated by Mark Strickson
Released January 2016


Seeing Jenny T Colgan’s name on a by-line associated with a Doctor Who story usually indicates that the listener is in for a treat and GardensoftheDead is certainly no exception to this rule. The story is told entirely from the point of view of Turlough as so it is doubly a treat that Mark Strickson is on hand to narrate it. He gives some spot on impersonations of the other characters especially Tegan and the Doctor and it really feels as if it Turlough telling the story from the way Colgan has captured his personality. Another nice touch is that the story is set shortly after Turlough’s arrival in Mawdryn Undead and so he is still under the influence of the Black Guardian and we get to enjoy Strickson impersonating the late Valentine Dyall. The story centres on Turlough building a relationship with and eventually coming to the rescue of Nyssa who finds herself falling foul of a sinister influence in the eponymous gardens. However, the conclusion of the story then disappoints as it references Nyssa’s departure in the television story Terminus a short time later but doesn’t make any reference to the various audio adventures set post-Enlightenment which Turlough would go on to share with Nyssa. Despite losing points for overlooking a significant development of the Big Finish continuity universe, this remains an extremely well-written story and is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

Prime Winner (Credit: Big Finish / Mark Plastow)Prime Winner
Written by Nigel Fairs, directed by Lisa Bowerman, narrated by Nicola Bryant
Released February 2016


This slightly odd story from the usually excellent Nigel Fairs is something of a curate’s egg. It finds the Doctor and Peri arriving on a space cruiser with an on-board casino where one of the players seems to having an extremely lucky day. The more curious aspect is that the gambler at the centre of the story apparently bears a strong resemblance to Peri’s step-father Howard. It is perhaps because this story seems to feature the more fractious season 22 relationship between the Sixth Doctor and Peri that this reviewer found the story didn’t gel as well as it might have although the relationship does show a hint of softening towards the end of the story. Also, there are a lot of continuity heavy references as a result of the appearance of ‘Howard’ including mentions of the Master and Kamelion as well as Necros mourning colours. This 42-minute story seems to become a little confused around the midway point when it takes on a rather repetitive Groundhog Day aspect but eventually reaches a satisfactory conclusion. The only disappointment is the slightly dismissive explanation for the central character’s resemblance to Howard, which ultimately serves to set up a final continuity punchline which unfortunately feels rather forced. Nicola Bryant gives a good reading and it will hopefully get to read some stronger stories in future.

Washington Burns (Credit: Big Finish / Mark Plastow)Washington Burns
Written by Julian Richards, directed by Lisa Bowerman, narrated by Sophie Aldred
Released March 2016

This enjoyable short story from Julian Richards opens in July 1814 when the city of Washington was under siege from the British with the rather shocking revelation that Ace has just accidentally shot and killed a horse. It then becomes apparent that we are starting the story in the middle as the action moves back several weeks from Ace’s point of view to Washington in the 22nd century where she and the Doctor are on the trail of a mind parasite known as Cerebra which spreads through transmission of the written word. This is not an entirely novel concept and will call long time Big Finish listeners to mind of the Word Lord but still the threat is well realised within the confines of a single person narrative. There is an initial confrontation between the Doctor and Ace and the parasite’s commanding host body before it manages to escape into a time corridor. The action then moves forward, or rather back, to Ace’s present where it becomes apparent that the Doctor has cleverly infiltrated the British army to ensure that any books in which Cerebra might be hiding are destroyed. The story reaches a sinister conclusion with the suggestion that the parasite may yet have survived but there is at very least a strong suggestion that there is a bootstrap paradox which will result in Cerebra’s presence in the Washington of the future. Overall, aside from the slight misfire of the opening scene, this is one of the strongest and at only just over 30 minutes in more compact stories of the range and all the better for not outstaying its welcome. Definitely a worthwhile listen.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Audio - Fifth Doctor - Sixth Doctor - Seventh Doctor

Supremacy of the Cybermen #2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 28 August 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek








Released: August 17th 2016, TITAN COMICS

Four Doctors, occupying four very different time zones and places, but sharing one common denominator: an old enemy, who spearheads the ambitions of a race of perennial foes. There is much chaos to cope with, and many problems to solve for the grey-haired Doctor and his predecessors - who favour exclaiming "Allons-y", "Fantastic!" and "Geronimo" respectively to signify reaction to major developments.

Silurians have upgraded to the Cyber Race, and prowl the startling environment that is prehistoric Earth. The Sontarans are desperate for an unusual alliance with a Time Lord, as they gather their armies together in their native Sontar system. And back in 2006, in a council estate area of London, the Ninth Doctor and his closest friends try to save London from devastation by Cyber Forces. The most pivotal action is on Gallifrey itself, in a time of unrest and anxiousness, as the recently Clara-deprived Doctor tries his best to figure out the plans of his mortal enemy, who was once a Time Lord deity: Rassilon!



"The Cybermen bend their knee to me, Doctor. We are Time Lords. We mold eternity."

That quote from the ex-Lord President, that the Doctor so efficiently deposed in Hell Bent, is a fine way to solidify just what power ratio exists between The Gallifreyans and the Cybermen that have joined forces. (I also cannot help wondering if some Game Of Thrones in-joke is operating, given that Donald Sumpter has also portrayed the rather more moral Maester Luwin). There also is the fine concept of there being factions on the home planet of the Time Lords, which perhaps was not always explored in Doctor Who as much as it might have been over the many years since The War Games first was transmitted.

Rassilon works well enough as an engaging antagonist that clashes with the current Doctor's familiar righteous fury. It is also useful to have a clear figure that gives the Cybermen foot soldiers that extra dimension, even if all their dialogue remains much the same.

Also, he seems to be the exception to the rule that a Cyber Leader or Controller has all his emotions removed to the core. If anything this character at times is that bit more moustache-twirling and revelling in evil than any onscreen or off-screen depiction of the Time Lord's founding father from the parent TV show. And for the purposes of a mini-arc series released over summer this is acceptable enough.

Perhaps, however, writers in general could resolve to abandon one of the less engaging Who catchphrases. The Cybermen look great here, but some of their dialogue could be better, not least a certain catchphrase of theirs. I really do scratch my head that "Delete! Delete!" is still alive and well, eleven or so years after it's 'premier outing'.


Some of the Doctors get to shine better than others here. Obviously, the Capaldi incarnation cannot be shunned as he is the contemporary one, and he has all the sections most pertinent to the main plot. Tennant's doctor is bustling and full of giddy energy too, and quick to adjust to changes of circumstances like a top level pro chess champion. I also enjoy the interplay with his two female companions, and appreciate there is little reliance on continuity references, given that quite a few readers will not be reading the Tenth Doctor range that often, if at all.


The material for Doctors Nine and Eleven must be declared as rather ordinary in comparison to their counterparts. The Eleventh Doctor shows he knows the Silurians but there is no need for his keenest wit or skills. Someone else who had taken moments to read the TARDIS logs or diaries could easily have the same thing to say. Perhaps the most appropriate substitution would be River, who knew Madame Vastra, and would have some emotional engagement as a result. Things do pick up later on, when the Doctor uncovers evidence of the grander scheme by Rassilon and his armies, and explains to Alice the threat of 'Ark' ships.


The Ninth Doctor sections can border on the run-of-the-mill, barring a potentially decisive accident that may leave this TARDIS team stranded or severely wounded.  This last development is one of the quite common 'mini cliff-hangers', that immediately precedes the actual one to end this instalment on. The knowledge that Rose will encounter the Cybermen for the first time, with the Tenth incarnation of her best friend - at least if the Web of Time is restored to normality - makes her sections with them here feel very ephemeral, but also interesting in that these remorseless beings are such a menace to her beloved home city. (And as Noel Clarke once commented, the Cybermen have that raw physical intimidation to them, in that they can kick down the front door of your home.)


I am still hopeful that the various plot threads that intermingle in this epic crossover event will become less opaque. This progression would then allow for a fine execution of the core premise, and perhaps bring some new groundbreaking changes for the various ongoing monthly series, including: the well-established one for Doctors Ten and Eleven, the increasingly confident sequence for Doctor Twelve, or the fledgling first year proper for the much underused Ecclestone Doctor (after Scott's splendid miniseries).

Art is generally of a pleasing quality, although I again find myself struggling to hear Tennant's voice carry through during the Tenth Doctor sections, as the likeness here for this ever-popular incarnation is not the most representative. This has been a problem several times in the main range involving him before, and is somewhat puzzling.

Colouring is something I almost take as a given when I do these reviews, but in these two issues of the mini-arc so far, I feel like some attention is necessitated. With such a busy storyline, and so many characters involved it is welcome that Nicola Righi manages to make everything cohere that bit more, such is his considered use of palette. A lot of scope is required of the pencils/inks, and they need a particularly illustrious colourist to breathe full life. Consequently this is one event series that will reward re-readings simply for the enjoyment of scrolling through the visuals.



Two variant covers are presented both in mid-size, and full-page variants. The first is a photo cover, and the second is a striking effort by Fabio Listrani.


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

Saturday, 27 August 2016 - Reviewed by Thomas Buxton
The First Doctor Companion Chronicles (Credit: Big Finish / Tom Webster)
Written By: Martin Day, Ian Potter, Simon Guerrier
Starring: Carole Ann Ford, Maureen O'Brien, Peter Purves, Alix Dunmore, Alice Haig, Darren Strange
Producers: David Richardson & Ian Atkins ("The Sleeping Blood")
Script Editor: Jacqueline Rayner
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Released by Big Finish Productions - June 2015

Of all of the eras of Doctor Who to select as the basis for a dedicated Companion Chronicles box-set, William Hartnell’s tenure as the eponymous “wanderer in the fourth dimension” mightn’t immediately strike fans as the most obvious choice. After all, for every fan favourite or show-defining serial like An Unearthly Child, The War Machines and The Tenth Planet, there were at least two stories which failed to capture what was to be the series’ essence, with The Rescue and The Space Museum amongst the most commonly referenced offenders.

At the same time, though, there remains an inherent charm and refreshing innocence about those first twenty nine adventures whenever one re-watches them, both qualities which Big Finish clearly sought to capitalize on with The First Doctor Volume One. Taking its listenership from alien offices to intergalactic research facilities and from 18th century London to the dying days of one Steven Taylor, none of the four contributory serials come up lacking in terms of overall scope, but each boasts a surprising level of creative minimalism in terms of its premise and narrative structure, perhaps so as to echo the storylines of the 1963-66 runs.

Yet when viewed as a collective whole, does Volume One match the studio’s strongest output to date – not least their stunning 50th anniversary First Doctor tale, TheBeginning – or join the ranks of the studio’s promising but ultimately unsuccessful works of audio which didn’t quite manage to fulfil their potential? To find out, let’s examine each serial in isolation before this reviewer delivers his final verdict on the set:

“The Sleeping Blood”:

Confining the First Doctor to the TARDIS after an encounter with poisonous alien fauna leaves him almost critically wounded, this opening instalment initially centres on his granddaughter Susan’s quest to obtain the necessary medicine to heal her ancestor in an extraterrestrial research facility. Events soon take a turn for the unexpected, however, as she becomes embroiled in a pseudo-civil war between the resident colonists over contrasting medical approaches, leading to a fascinatingly morally ambiguous tale with some engaging commentary regarding our race’s tendency to interweave modern technologies with healing practices without a second thought.

Offering up as confident a performance as ever, Carole Ann Ford once again seems to relish taking the helm here, rendering Susan as innocent yet as intelligent as ever as she matches wits with the sinister Butcher, a character whose seemingly antagonistic motivations get cast in a surprisingly sympathetic light thanks to the nuanced performance provided by co-star Darren Strange. Indeed, Strange deserves just as much credit as Ann Ford for keeping proceedings engaging, not least by ensuring that we’re never quite certain whether or not his construct is necessarily as malevolent as his foes would initially have Susan believe, with the dialogue afforded to him by scribe Martin Day only serving to strengthen his case as one of Big Finish’s more compelling ‘villains’ of recent times.

If there’s one criticism that needs laying at Day’s feet, it’s perhaps that the Butcher’s narrative turn from seemingly by-the-numbers adversary to a far more philosophically layered beast comes rather abruptly in the piece’s second half, but that aside, “The Sleeping Blood” serves as a stunning opening outing which will leave virtually all of its listenership desperate to see what’s next from Volume One.

“The Unwinding World”:

Unfortunately, though, what’s next doesn’t exactly whet the audience’s appetites to nearly the same level as its predecessor. To some extent, “The Unwinding World” marks a refreshing departure from “Sleeping Blood” thanks to its inspired implementation of a narrative framing device in the form of 15785’s Vicki finding herself subjected to an interrogation by her new employer at a factory hiding secrets galore, an approach which yields flashbacks aplenty. It’s a great starting point to be sure, and one which writer Ian Potter could easily have developed into a story every inch as memorable as both “Sleeping Blood” and the First Doctor’s finest televised hours of television.

Yet the core plot itself doesn’t do nearly enough to support this innovative structural flourish, instead presenting us with a fairly mundane caper-style adventure which separates the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara, only to then pair each of them with a relatively forgettable band of supporting characters such as rebels without much in the way of a compelling cause or the employer who doesn’t have much to offer beyond underlying malice. O’Brien’s enthusiastic performance benefits the overall serial to some extent, particularly when she’s voicing her own character from the TV series, but her renditions of the voices of Hartnell’s Doctor, Jacqueline Hill’s Barbara and particularly William Russell’s Ian Chesterton don’t seem nearly as accurate in comparison to those actors’ televised portrayals, leaving this reviewer curious as to why the studio didn’t bring Russell back into the fray so as to allow the pair to re-establish their compelling on-screen dynamic in this instance.

Whereas “Sleeping Blood” kicked off Volume One with a bang, then, its immediate successor fails to maintain that momentum, instead coming off as a colossal missed opportunity to take an instantly intriguing premise and turn it into an unmissable addition to the First Doctor’s audio adventures in its own right.

“The Founding Fathers”:

Like “Unwinding World” before it, one can’t fault Volume One’s penultimate storyline in terms of its conceptual ambition from the outset. “The Founding Fathers” not only transports its listeners – and the TARDIS crew, now comprising the Doctor, Steven and Vicki once again – back to 1760s England for a chance meeting with iconic American politician Benjamin Franklin, but in addition forms only the first half of a two-parter centring on Steven’s post-TARDIS, post-kingly exploits as he attempts to resolve the mystery of how the Doctor’s consciousness has come to be trapped in a mysterious jar before his very eyes on the planet first glimpsed in 1966’s The Savages.

Better yet, rather than stumbling in its execution as was the case with the previous instalment, “Fathers” sports a cracking opening episode steeped with intrigue, temporal manipulation and deft characterisation, delving into how a Time Meddler-esque wanderer in the fourth dimension has come to impact upon Franklin’s life in potentially catastrophic ways, much to the predictable ire of Hartnell’s ever-cautious Time Lord, whilst equally making ample use of the rare opportunity to bring the First Doctor face to face with arguably one of the greatest minds of the 18th century. The problem is, once we enter Part 2, Simon Guerrier – who takes on playwright duties for both “Fathers” and the boxset’s finale – doesn’t seem totally assured when it comes to resolving his undoubtedly audacious narrative, prompting a disappointingly low-key denouement that neither makes great use of Peter Purves nor does the exciting premise justice.

Unsurprisingly, this leaves a rather sour taste in the listener’s mouth come the credits, yet if nothing else, “Fathers” deserves a try for its accomplished first half, compelling – if limited given the source material’s conclusion – work from Purves on voicing duties as well as its admittedly tantalising lead-in to Guerrier’s second story of the set.

“The Locked Room”:

Rather than using an elderly Steven’s recollections of the past as a framing device for the second time in a row, “The Locked Room” puts Mr Taylor’s campaign to solve the aforementioned dilemma surrounding the Doctor’s latest plight front and centre, with Alice Haig joining Purves as the second granddaughter of the collection, Sida, better known as the president of Steven’s new home-world. The premise here is a simple but instantly engaging one – hot on the heels of the events of “The Founding Fathers”, Steven and Sida must work to reunite the Doctor’s consciousness with his body in time for him to put a stop to an intergalactic conflict kicking off on Earth.

Much of this series finale’s supposed appeal lies in its re-introduction of a classic Doctor Who adversary taken from Tom Baker’s era, yet this places a lot of pressure on Guerrier to ensure that the recurring antagonist’s first appearance makes a considerable impact. It’s a challenge to which he struggles to rise, as he attempts to reveal the monster in question right at Part 1’s end in a vein similar to the TV show’s classic days – think how we first met the titular foes at the end of 1975's Terror of the Zygons Part 1 in terrifying style and you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect here – only to evidently realize how flawed an approach this seems when the listener can’t actually see the monster in question, at least until the script describes it in further detail or offers up its fan-appeasing name.

This isn’t to say “Locked Room” falls wholly flat as a work of audio drama, since Purves and Haig undoubtedly strike up a great rapport which more than keeps the storyline alive, yet as anthology denouements go, one can’t help but think that actually ending with the far superior “Sleeping Blood”, thereby taking us back to the First Doctor’s beginnings as the compilation neared its end, would have been a wiser choice.

The Verdict:

In contrast to this year’s by-and-large compelling Companion Chronicles collection, The Second Doctor Volume One, this Hartnell-oriented anthology doesn’t so much pack a captivating first half that’s let down by the remaining two instalments as start out spectacularly with “The Sleeping Blood”, which ranks without any hesitation as one of Big Finish’s strongest First Doctor-driven audio dramas to date, then sadly start to notably peter out from “The Unwinding World” onwards.

As such, whilst true enthusiasts of the show’s freshman era will surely find plenty to like at first and enough to like later on to make this flawed compilation worth their while, anyone who’s struggled to see the appeal of the First Doctor won’t likely have their minds changed by any instalment but the first, making the prospect of them shelling out £20 for that lone great feel implausible at best. By all means take a look at The First Doctor Volume One if the studio slashes its price in a future sale or promotion, yet until then, suffice to say that there’s far more satisfying content to be found in their main range, New Series or Worlds of Doctor Who releases than what’s on offer here.


Fiesta of the Damned (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 25 August 2016 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
Fiesta Of The Damned

Written by Guy Adams
Directed by Ken Bentley

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Enzo Squillino Jnr (Juan Romero), Christopher Hatherall (George Newman), Owen Aaronovitch (Antonio Ferrando/Control Unit),
Tom Alexander (Luis/Phillipe)

Big Finish Productions
Released August 2016 (order from Amazon UK)

Picking up from Mel having rejoined the TARDIS crew in last month’s caper ALifeofCrime, the Doctor promises his companions “a taste of the real Spain.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much more real than 1938 when the Spanish Civil War was nearing its conclusion. The moral of the story is that history is real and being a part of it often hurts.

This rather neat play features a small cast but evokes the dark atmosphere of the impending victory for Fascist rule in Spain which would endure for nearly forty years after the time of this story. The opening scene featuring an attack on a group of Republican freedom fighters is one of more vividly realistic scenes you are ever likely to hear in a Big Finish audio drama, although perhaps not quite on a par with March’s ThePeterlooMassacre. This is not, however a purely historical tale, although the attempted alien conquest could be seen as symbolising the rise of fascism.

At the heart of this story however are the character interactions as there is some more great scenes between newly reunited companions Bonnie Langford and Sophie Aldred, particularly as Mel continues to realise that Ace has grown up a lot since her days of chucking nitro nine around. Both characters also interact well with the other characters in particular Ace’s relationship with English journalist George Newman, whose occasional chauvinism is nicely underplayed by Christopher Hatherall, and Mel’s relationship with Republican Juan Romero, a very sympathetic portrayal from Enzo Squillino Jr, which really forms the spine of the play.

Overall, this is a story about Mel being reminded of the cost of seeing history first hand and getting involved in real situations. It is to be hoped that next month’s offering, Maker of Demons, won’t see a parting of the ways for this newly reformed TARDIS trio as just like last month, this play has shown that there a lot of untapped potential here for future adventures.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Audio - Seventh Doctor

The Fourth Doctor: Casualties Of Time (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
Casualties Of Time (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9/The Oortag), David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), David Troughton (The Black Guardian/Edge), Jez Fielder (Drudger/Ecidien Cerebus Bird/The White Guadian/Salonu Prime), Jane Slavin (The Laan/Conglom-net Computer/Salonu)


This title was released in August 2016. It will be available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2016, and on general sale after this date.

This review contains spoilers


Casualties Of Time, the last in this series of fourth Doctor audio adventures from Big Finish picks straight up from the end of the previous adventure, The Pursuit Of History. We find Romana being forced  by Mr Dorrick (Toby Hadoke) into the chamber to repair the time engine and the Doctor about to take another perilous trip in the TARDIS through one of Cuthbert's (David Warner) dodgy quantum gateways. Needless to say that both cliffhangers are resolved quickly and neatly (perhaps the Doctor's just a little too quickly, or maybe the TARDIS is just getting used to these perilous trips through quantum gateways).

I couldn't help but notice that the blurb from Big Finish for Casualties of time is particularly bold, it's final two lines are:

The Doctor, Romana and K9.

Today one of them will die.

So do we lose one of the best TARDIS crews ever assembled? Possibly maybe, perhaps....

Thankfully, during the audio play's run time, a lot of the questions raised in the last episode, are answered - Questions like - What are Cuthbert's motives? Is the Black Guardian involved? What is the Cerebus Bird doing in the bowels of the TARDIS? And probably the MOST important of all - Could Toby Hadoke'sMr Dorrick possibly get more camp and moustache twirlgly devious? (That last one is a most definite yes).

Big Finish seem to be quite clumsy with their credits, they brazenly give the game away with regards to the Black Guardian's involvement before you get a chance to listen to the lovely season seventeen opening theme. But then again, I guess that it acts as an advert for a returning villain.

Nicholas Briggs not only brilliantly wrote, but also ably directed this story which is full of very intelligent paradoxes, one of which reaches right back to the iron age and involves an alien ship, Cuthbert, a bazooka and the Doctor (twice). Mr Cuthbert's timeline of self-perpetuation is very clever indeed, and makes perfect sense, especially when you find out how his whole life has been influenced, and manipulated. Oh - and the twist is a doozy. Nicely played Mr Briggs.

Tom Baker and John Leeson are (as you would expect) excellent together which is a good job as again we find The Doctor and Romana (Lalla Ward) are separated for a vast amount of the story. However when the Doctor does finally catch up with Ramona....sorry, Romana on the space platform, their chemistry once again is very evident and welcomed.

Tom has (of course) most of the best lines, and has fun delivering them. My favorite of which has to be "Hello Mr Dorrick, it's so nice to see you. I'm joking." As the story unfurls, both Toby Hadoke and David Warner's characters require a complete change in the way that they are played, and both handle this change with deft and with style. In fact the Doctor's relationship itself with Cuthbert changes also, and I'd welcome another visit from this new twist on the character, just as this adventure left him. I mustn't also forget David Troughton's Edge, who finds himself somewhat, shall we say at odds with Cuthbert for a while.

The last two of this series of eight has left me wanting more of the Doctor, Romana and K9. I can't wait for series six!

GUIDE: CasualtiesOfTime - FILTER: - Fourth Doctor - Big Finish

The New Countermeasures - Who Killed Toby Kinsella?Bookmark and Share

Monday, 22 August 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek

1. Who Killed Toby Kinsella? by John Dorney

2. The Dead Don't Rise by Ken Bentley

Directed By: Ken Bentley


Cast: Simon Williams (Gilmore), Pamela Salem (Rachel), 
Karen Gledhill (Allison), Hugh Ross (Sir Toby Kinsella), 
Raad Rawi (Prince Hassan Al-Nadyr), 
Justin Avoth (Mikhail), Belinda Stewart-Wilson (Overton), 
Ian Lindsay (Routledge), Jot Davies (Avery), 
Alan Cox (Fanshawe). 

Producer - David Richardson

Script Editor - John Dorney

Story by - Ken Bentley

Sound Design:Robert Harvey

Music:Nicholas Briggs

Cover Art:Simon Holub

Executive Producers - Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Released by  - Big Finish Productions, July 2016

NB -Spoilers For This Release -And Series Four of Counter-Measures - feature:


As halls are decked with boughs of holly in the twilight of 1973, the eminent figure of state Prince Hassan Al-Nadyr faces a grave threat. A relentless assassin, possessing abilities and  powers that exceed anything a normal human should have, is focused on the Prince's demise. Co-incidentally, it is close to a decade since the specialist 'Counter-Measures' group suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. Only Sir Toby Kinsella had remained alive since then , but before long he too is pronounced officially dead. By getting too close to the Prince, Toby has paid the ultimate price.

The funeral soon after for the Knight of the Realm sees the seemingly dead Group Captain Gilmore, Professor Rachel Jensen, and Dr Allison Williams, come together to mourn their associate and to try and uncover just what foul play is at hand. And the authorities are far from helpful in aiding their efforts. Perhaps someone from the late Sir Toby's past may have some answers, though.


Dear readers, if you have proceeded past the spoiler warning (and perhaps also the more guarded sections of 'confidentiality' I strove for in my Series Four box set review last October), I must clarify that the front cover is to be believed. Our main heroes of Gilmore, Jensen and Williams are very much alive and well. They, however, have been forced to live different lives for fear of being recognised by those with malicious intent. Instead of their normal vocations, they have assumed somewhat different, somewhat similar lifestyles and professions.

The pace and the characterisation are at an optimum and having a more straightforward plot works to this two-parter's advantage. Wondering if Toby really is dead, and the signs are ominous indeed, makes for a nice inversion of what transpired in the closing moments of Clean Sweep.

By moving proceedings forward to the 1970s, the regulars are somewhat closer in age to their real life counterparts. One of my concerns in the past was the believability of the vocal age, and this has been assuaged somewhat now. Furthermore, the move to the Seventies brings a distinct breath of fresh air and a chance to try and evoke some of the other TV and Radio series of the era. (Of course, I also emphasise that the riveting interlinked Series Four never came near to being stale.)

A nod or two to one of Oscar Wilde's more celebrated fictional feats of imagination could have easily been done ham-fistedly, but here is pulled off with aplomb by the writers. Although the antagonist appears relatively early on and so we recognise, his full background and motivation is sketched in with deliberately staged patience in later sections of the story. His being a malicious, efficient agent of death is a fine counterpoint to the main heroic trio, who only resort to killing as a last resort. It is commendable that Who Killed.. puts enough groundwork into making listeners ponder the motivations of the villain. Some of the best modern TV Who has worked wonders by making the audience emphasise just that little bit with an otherwise deplorable individual.

Having a player in proceedings who is a thorn in the sides of the main cast, but who is on the side of the British public through their position in MI5, brings added dimension and drama to the story. Belinda Stewart-Wilson's Overton reminds me somewhat of Kate Stewart in her effortless command and determination to see things through, but she is perhaps a little more blinkered and not stopping to consider if perhaps there is a common goal to be achieved, after all. The eventual culmination of this dramatic conflict is truly executed well.

The sign of a strong and confident tale is the dénouement and final stages as the protagonists reflect on their escapades. In this regard, The Dead Don't Rise plays its trump card with brilliant timing. In many TV shows, including a few of the Moffat/Capaldi Doctor Who stories, endings sometimes feel just that bit truncated. But here, the focus on characterisation and a crystal clear plot allow for the closing tracks to breath fully and to resonate in listeners' auditory organs to maximum effect.

As one would surely expect at this stage in Big Finish's track record with this particular range, the main voice cast are all on song with their portrayals of well-crafted characters. Simon Williams is a fine leading man, (once Hugh Ross' excellent voice acting has graced the exhilarating opening action stages of the play). His interactions with both Pamela Salem  and Karen Gledhill are always amusing, and sometimes also heart-warming.  Clearly, all four of the cast were most keen to return to the fold, and kudos to Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs for making sure the wait for that return was a short one. Now that the series has legs again to proceed, the expectation must be that more sound material along these lines will follow in good time.

GUIDE: WhoKilledTobyKinsella - FILTER: - AUDIO - BIG FINISH