One of the joys of Big Finish Productions‘ range of Doctor Who audios has been the chance not only to hear classic Doctors in brand new adventures years after they’ve left the role, but also – more recently – the way in which they’ve expanded the audio series to include elements from the show since its return to our screens in 2005.
From The Diary Of River Song, to UNIT (giving both Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood adventures of their own without the Doctor to help save the day), Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter (as portrayed by Georgia Tennant, the real-life daughter of Peter Davison, as well as spouse of David Tennant. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wifey.), The War Master (Sir Derek Jacobi), and Missy (the inimitable Michelle Gomez), to name but a few of their spin-off series: Big Finish has done a great job in giving extra life to more recent creations.
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However, the one thing that we all really want is to have more of the post-McGann incarnations of the Time Lord. Although there’s been no involvement by Capaldi, Smith or (least surprisingly) Eccleston, Big Finish have thankfully managed to secure the services of David Tennant; it probably helps they’d already built a relationship with him early on, before he had come to prominence in Casanova or Doctor Who, plus as a lifelong fan, he knows just what it means to have Doctors coming back, so he was always going to be the one most likely to sign up for an aural iteration of their era.
Over the last two years, we’ve been lucky enough to have two volumes featuring the Tenth Doctor, the first with Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), and the other with Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). In this latest run, we have the return of Donna, and this time round she’s also brought her family with her – mum Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King), and grandad Wilfred Mott (the legendary Bernard Cribbins). We last saw all of them together back on New Year’s Day 2010, but to hear them here, it honestly feels as if not a day has passed. Ten and Donna are easily one of the best Doctor/companion pairings, so it’s a genuine thrill to be able to have more of them in action.
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The volume follows the template as laid out by Russell T. Davies for the first three stories in a season: one contemporary; one futuristic; and one historical. Here, we have ‘No Place’, by James Goss; author Jenny T. Colgan’s ‘One Mile Down’; and Roy Gill’s ‘The Creeping Death’. Each of these tales perfectly evokes the Tennant era, and – budget notwithstanding (in the case of Colgan’s tale especially) – could have easily fitted in as a televised adventure, so authentic is their feel.
It’s long been known Russell T. Davies had given consideration to doing a ‘haunted house’ episode while he was showrunner, with rumours suggesting it could’ve been a special live broadcast for Halloween one year, spoofing shows like Most Haunted. ‘No Place’ finally brings that to fruition, in a haunting story which is reminiscent of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass And The Pit and The Stone Tape. The hook here is a TV makeover show which focuses upon supposedly haunted properties, and the Doctor and Donna have to pretend to be a married couple: the interplay and banter between the two of them really is worth the price of the set on its own, and gives the pair a chance to show off their comic chops.
‘One Mile Down’ brings us to Vallarasee, a formerly underwater city which had been placed under an airtight dome by a space version of the National Trust, forcing the marine natives to wear protective suits in order to survive, while pandering to the air-breathing tourists. Shenanigans are afoot (or afin), and a disaster is looming, but the patrolling Judoon seem oblivious to the danger, so it’s a race against time to try and save everyone. As well as being a nice bit of social commentary by Colgan, Judoon vocal artist Nicholas Briggs gives us a memorable turn as a junior officer (with a voice to match), Clo, who almost steals the show. As much as a gun-toting space rhino can, that is.
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We’ve had tales of killer fog told before, however, there’s probably nothing more intrinsically Doctor Who and – ergo – British than a story of killer smog, which is what we get in ‘The Creeping Death’, a jaunt back to a real historical event from the 1950s, given a sci-fi twist, via One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing or Night At The Museum at one point. Like current televised stories, we have a very strong representation of LGBT characters, seen via the prism of a time when it was still a criminal offence to be homosexual. While the weakest episode of the three, it’s not truly a criticism per se – it’s like being seen as the least good Beatle: still pretty darn great in its own right.
Although all three stories are available to purchase separately, there’s also a limited edition set containing a booklet which has character design drawings by the veteran Who costume designer June Hudson, as well as storyboards of action sequences produced by Who VFX guru Mike Tucker. In addition, the limited edition set also has an exclusive behind-the-scenes disc, along with a documentary detailing David Tennant’s work with Big Finish over the years. If you can snap one of these sets up, then that’s a bonus, but even if not, make sure you pick up the individual releases, as they’re truly unmissable stuff, whether you’re a hardcore fan or casual viewer of the show.
The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume Three is out now from Big Finish.