In contrast to Justin Richards’ Earth-bound story, Andy Lane’s tale takes its cue from the Pertwee era’s wanderings through time and space, with particular emphasis on the “diplomacy” exercised by the Time Lord in such stories as The Curse of Peladon and Frontier in Space. Lane throws a few spanners in the works by creating a situation where it’s only logical for Jo Grant to take the lead and impersonate the arriving security consultant, giving Katy Manning a chance to show just how much the young UNIT agent has learned and grown during her time alongside the Doctor.
Lane uses the narration differently to Richards – there are quite a few places where I suspect a standard Big Finish full cast audio wouldn’t have had the equivalent of “Meanwhile back at the ranch” (okay, lifepod) that is used here, and there’s at least one place near the start where it’s disconcerting as the narration implies that we’re changing location when in fact it’s talking about the place where the TARDIS has just landed. Hopefully for the next set, this will be dispensed with entirely.
Once again, Tim Treloar gives an uncannily accurate rendition of Pertwee’s Doctor and his performance in this is excellent, with Manning and Richard Franklin’s Mike Yates proving good foils. Hywel Morgan and Lucy Briggs-Owen as the prospective married couple sell the relationship well (in the extras director Nick Briggs names their scene together in the lifepod as one of his favourites from the piece, and they deserve the praise), with Joanna Bacon and George Layton likewise convincing as their respective assistants. Helen Goldwyn goes deliberately rather over the top in one of her two roles, while providing a very credible AI for the station.
As Lane notes in the extras, this new format fills a noticeable gap in the Big Finish range of classic Doctor stories, and I hope this set is just the first of many.
Verdict: The Third Doctor in fine form once more. 8/10