Rose and Captain Jack help the Ninth Doctor to track down the mysterious vigilante known only as the Whisper…
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s script for this first ever original Ninth Doctor audio – the AudioGO range of original stories for the new series only kicked off during Mr Tennant’s reign – is a clever piece of writing, which recreates the period and its very different Time Lord admirably. The writers manage to negotiate the pitfalls of setting a multi-Doctor story during a period when regeneration hadn’t been mentioned in the programme; whereas most of the other companions present when Matt Smith’s incarnation pops up during this saga have some knowledge of the concept, Rose doesn’t, and there’s no way that Scott and Wright were going to be allowed to create a Two Doctors-esque rewriting of history, even if they’d wished to do so.
On its own, that would be quite sufficient to earn this story a high mark, as would the fittingly more upfront sound design – with the music even apparently sneaking in a moment or two highly reminiscent of I Am the Doctor at an appropriate point. John Schwab makes a good foil as McNeil, but what makes it something special is Nicholas Briggs’ performance as the Doctor.
When you think about it, Briggs has to be a good mimic: his different Dalek tones and Cybervoices echo many of the previous voice artists, but his Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor has to be heard to be believed. He doesn’t just get the accent – he gets the inflections, the odd emphases, the joy in duplicity (such as when he reveals his alias to the local police, secure in the knowledge that nobody but him is getting the joke), and especially the word “fantastic”, which Scott and Wright make him perform in a rather different manner from usual. Since it seems pretty certain that Eccleston won’t be persuaded back into the leather jacket for at least another 50 years (per his letter to the audience at the BFI ), somebody sign Briggs up now – after all, for some people, Nick Briggs was the Ninth Doctor anyway.
Verdict: Something rather special – enjoy reliving an all too brief era in the life of the Time Lord. 9/10