Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio 163: Black and White

Why has the Doctor been recruiting new companions? And how does the truth of the legend of Beowulf fit into his plans?

This is one story that you really do not want spoiled before you listen to it, since it provides links between a lot of the recent adventures for Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor, and makes – some – sense of what’s been going on. I say some, because by no means all the revelations are in this release: there are obviously quite a few things that require explanations, which will hopefully come in Gods and Monsters next month.

The cover gives away who was in the TARDIS when Ace and Hex entered it at the end of Protect and Survive, and their back stories with the Doctor form an integral part of what’s happening. Contrary to various websites’ suppositions, the McCoy solo stories are not simply some new adventures happening towards the end of his timeline: they’re far more important than that, and, although it’s clear that there’s a certain amount of retconning going on, once you hear that, you’ll want to go back and relisten to those. The “other titles available” list inside Protect and Survive will provide places to start!

And then while all that arc stuff is going on, there’s a timey-wimey story with the four companions split up in two different timezones, encountering Beowulf and Grendel – or rather, the source of the Grendel legend, played by Stuart Milligan in his best Hanna-Barbera bad guy voice (if they ever do a remake of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, he’s a shew-in as the new Hooded Claw). It’s perhaps hard for that story to make its mark, but Matt Fitton gives all the companions a chance to show what they can do in both this and the arc plot.

Like the preceding story, McCoy’s ‘screen’ time is reduced, and Sophie Aldred, Philip Olivier, Maggie O’Neill and Amy Pemberton (the latter two reprising roles from earlier stories) all grab the opportunity and director Ken Bentley keeps the pace brisk while allowing the story to breathe where it needs to in some of the flashback sequences. It’ll be a bit of a shame if we don’t keep this combination beyond next month.

Verdict: The answers are finally coming! A gripping tale that pays off fans’ patience.  8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Black and White from Big Finish

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  1. Pingback: Syfy preparing live-action Beowulf adaptation | Sci-Fi Bulletin - November 14, 2013

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