John Dorney’s contribution to the 50th anniversary stories is a direct sequel to what many regard as the true 25th anniversary tale, Remembrance of the Daleks, set an unspecified period after that adventure, but definitely in November 1963. It’s also a prequel to the Counter-Measures series, filling in some of the gaps which might have become apparent during the creation of that spin-off.
We know that Doctor Who’s history is similar to but not identical to our own, and in this story, Dorney provides us with the Whoniverse’s version of the Profumo affair as well as taking inspiration from one of Ian Fleming’s Bond tales – one whose film version is markedly different from its original. As characters themselves point out with some regularity, the villains are involved in a convoluted plot (there’s a particularly accurate line from Ace regarding it, comparing it with the Doctor’s own schemes), so you do have to listen quite carefully, but it rewards the attention and director Ken Bentley ensures that you never feel lost (except of course when the story requires you to).
Dorney incorporates some neat touches – which shouldn’t be spoiled – and even explains a visual change within the programme itself, which places the story quite specifically within the Doctor and Ace’s timeline. It’s early in their time together: Sophie Aldred seems to enjoy going back to the immature Ace of the TV stories, rather than the more complex, layered character she has played in recent time (and which will be heard in next month’s story, Aftermath).
Verdict: Another strong story from Big Finish for the 50th anniversary: they’re setting themselves quite a bar for the next few months! 9/10