The first of six adventures set straight after the end of The Talons of Weng-Chiang (even picking up the final conversation from that story), Destination: Nerva is a great introduction for Tom Baker’s Doctor into the Big Finish universe. There’s no grandstanding to say, “Here he is – we’ve got Tom Baker. We’ve given him the majority of the first episode so you can absolutely sure it’s not Jon Culshaw doing an impression.” It’s just straight bang into the action.
Baker and Louise Jameson sound eerily similar to their 35 year earlier performances – more so than some of the other Doctors, notably Peter Davison – and Nick Briggs has captured the nuances of the characterisation, particularly Leela’s ability to puncture the Doctor’s pomposity.
Setting the story on board Nerva Beacon allows a certain shorthand, after its appearances in The Ark in Space and Revenge of the Cybermen, and of course there’s a nostalgia element, but I’m not convinced that in story terms it needed to be Nerva itself. After all, we know the Beacon wasn’t destroyed, which removes yet another level of threat from the situation.
Much as I’ve enjoyed a lot about the AudioGo adventures featuring Tom Baker, I’ve always hoped that at some point they would feature the Fourth Doctor as seen on screen. True to their work with the other Doctors, Big Finish have ensured that their stories fit pretty seamlessly into the televised canon – and for that, many will be grateful.
Verdict: A good start. 7/10