It’s Alan Barnes month at Big Finish, with this fun adventure for the Fourth Doctor and Leela coming hot on the heels of his “locum Doctor” story, Last of the Cybermen. In some ways, the two scripts couldn’t be more different: where the latter has some humorous moments within it, offsetting some of the tension, this one is sometimes laugh aloud funny, with the danger mounting in a crescendo behind the jokes. However, both stories remember that the series is an “adventure in space and time”, using each of those elements well. Although there’s what feels like a slightly clunky political dig towards the end, this is one of Barnes’ most enjoyable scripts.
Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are clearly having a ball with the story – you can almost see Baker at his most goggle-eyed and Jameson marshalling the guests to some sort of safety – and Nick Briggs has gathered a very strong cast to join them. Annette Badland’s Thelma is a character who would be great to hear again and Katy Wix as hostess Belinda has echoes of the monstrous performance at the heart of Abigail’s Party, the acknowledged inspiration for the tale, without going over the top. (We’ve obviously gone beyond “teatime in 1977”!)
Verdict: An enjoyable step into a suburban nightmare. 8/10