Let’s get this out of the way straightaway – and take it as read for the reviews of the other two audios in this (hopefully) first volume of stories: David Tennant and Catherine Tate fall straight back into their roles, really sounding as if they’ve not been away. It’s three years since either played the role (Tennant in The Day of the Doctor; Tate for the Destiny of the Doctor audio series), but all the high energy of their team on television transfers to audio in a way that non-aural media simply can’t replicate. There was always a feel that some of their dialogue was ad-libbed by the two actors – even if, as he claims in Vortex, pretty much every word of it was actually written by Russell T Davies – and that continues in these tales.
Whereas the UNIT and the War Doctor series have taken elements of 21st Century Doctor Who and spun them off in new ways, this Tenth Doctor set has to do the same as the Main Range has done for the 20th Century Doctors, recreating their eras and finding new stories to fit. Matt Fitton’s opener does just that, in some ways giving us a 10th Doctor/Donna version of The Bells of St John with technology being front and centre, but this time with it becoming, as the title would suggest, something to be afraid of. Sensibly, this has been set a little in Donna’s future (something that perhaps should have been done for In the Blood as well!), so she’s slightly out of kilter, but still near enough on her home turf to stand up for herself without worrying that the Spaceman is going to get narked at her for interfering with something precious to do with his Web of Time.
Fitton gives both Tennant and Tate plenty to do, apart from spark off each other, and director Nick Briggs has assembled a strong cast – including former “companion” Niky Wardley – who hold their own against the leads admirably, while Howard Carter’s sound design and music evoke the era well.
Verdict: An excellent start to the new 10th Doctor adventures. 9/10
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