For those who aren’t familiar with the early adventures of the Eighth Doctor on audio, Charley Pollard was the Edwardian Adventuress who stowed away aboard the R101 airship in 1930, and was rescued from it by the Doctor. She should have died, and the paradox caused all sorts of problems, not helped by the fact that Charley fell in love with the Time Lord. There are those who believe that the character outstayed her welcome, and it’s certainly true that her appearances along the Sixth Doctor had more energy – and there are definite indications that she’s going to be back for solo stories soon.
Putting her in a story set in the Thirties works well, and India Fisher, who has now played her for well over a decade, recaptures that bubbly version of Charley from the first couple of seasons of adventures before the angst set in. Alan Barnes, who penned her opening story, as well as overseeing the key elements of her development, unsurprisingly gets her and both the Eighth and Eleventh Doctors right and there are some nice touches with tips of the hat to both Doctors’ opening appearances, from the TV Movie and The Eleventh Hour.
Enemy Aliens is otherwise a homage to The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan’s classic tale of an innocent caught up in enemy plans. Barnes doesn’t just reference the original story, but also the various different film versions (I was waiting for the ‘Don’t be so bloody stupid’ line to come at the end of the story when a key moment from the Robert Powell movie is recreated). The story might even have worked better had it stayed completely in this genre, rather than adding a not overly credible external threat, but this may perhaps link to the overarching theme.
Verdict: There’s almost too many different strands here for a 60-minute tale, but it’s an enjoyable romp. 6/10