Mike Tucker’s return to the world of audio drama is an enjoyable recreation of the much-maligned Season 24 – a period, I have to admit, that I found difficult to watch at the time, but for which I have increased respect over the years. This isn’t the dark Seventh Doctor, of complicated chess moves and Machiavellian plans; nor is it the mad post-regenerative Doctor of Time and the Rani. This is a version of the Time Lord who knows what he is capable of, and knows when it is appropriate to act, who has a degree of control over the TARDIS, but not as much as he’d like, and who has a good rapport with his companion, Mel. As Bonnie Langford points out, this is the TV Mel rather than the “Big Finish” Mel to an extent, asking the questions the audience needs answers to, rather than necessarily off on her own strand – although Tucker sensibly divides the pair up for a lot of the story, giving McCoy Clare Buckfield’s Ann as a temporary assistant.
There’s a lot of Paradise Towers in the DNA of this story, perhaps even slightly too much (the societies created have a lot of parallels), and there’s a really interesting definition of the concept of something being living – according to Mel, it seems they have to demonstrate some form of intelligence in order to be categorised as “alive”. If this is meant to be used in contrast with the status of the families in the Warehouse, then that’s got a bit lost unfortunately.
Director Barnaby Edwards always gathers a strong cast, and it’s good to hear some of his “repertory company” back in action alongside new voices. The script is moderately melodramatic in places, and Edwards reins in any attempts to go too far with the delivery – a fine line to walk, and certainly not one that the TV series was achieving very well during the period the story is set!
Verdict: A solidly entertaining tale that recreates its TV background well. 8/10