Review: Doctor Who: AudioGo: Serpent Crest 1: Tsar Wars

The Fourth Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey are kidnapped and the Doctor is mistaken for the life-saving Father Gregory…

Come to the end of this first instalment of the latest saga from AudioGo and it’s hard to tell whether the central conceit works well, or is just irritating. Tom Baker plays Father Gregory, a mystical figure who has influence over the Tsarina, and is the only one who can cure her son from a blood-related condition. And it’s not the first time he’s done so. In 1971, the character had the surname Rasputin, and Baker was one of the stars of Nicholas and Alexandra; forty years later, the story is set in the Robotov rather than Romanoff Empires, but the set-up is much the same. So Tom Baker in 2011 gets a chance to recreate two of his past roles (one from 1971, one from 1978 or so) and inevitably has scenes working with himself – and enjoys himself a little too much.

There’s enough going on elsewhere though to ameliorate the annoyance, and it really helps that this is a full cast play, rather than a Doctor (or Wibbsey) narrated story. Whether it’s as a result of working within what I suspect will be more traditional guidelines for his Big Finish stories, or just a natural progression the more Baker plays the part again, but this sounds more like the television Fourth Doctor than we’ve had in the previous stories (think back to how long it took some of the other Doctors to relax into their audio incarnations back in the early Big Finish days).

Verdict: Like the two previous series, this is still a little too whimsical for my tastes, but the flashes of steel that we hear from the Doctor suggest that this could be the strongest of these to date.  7/10

Paul Simpson

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