The arrival of the BBC’s adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s Blandings stories on screen the day before the release of the first story in the second season of Tom Baker tales for Big Finish is serendipitous, as Jonathan Morris’ script evokes the same period (but without anachronistic jammy dodgers!) It’s Wodehouse meets Adams (meets Pip and Jane Baker in one place!) with Morris achieving his aim of marrying the Wodehouse musical-comedy-without-the-music and the Doctor Who format.
There’s an instant difference noticeable in the way Baker plays the part opposite Mary Tamm to the way he does with Louise Jameson. This Doctor isn’t a teacher; he’s almost desperate to get one up on his Time Lady companion, reluctantly agreeing when she points out the inherent flaws in his plans. Separating them gives both characters room to breathe: two know-it-alls in one story can become rather annoying.
Morris obeys the Wodehouse rules of romance, and the laws governing aunts and the way that they behave towards nephews of an unseemly disposition – I’d love to hear his take on a Wodehouse story without the sci-fi trappings.
There’s an extra on this story that may well bring a tear to the eye: David Richardson and Tom Baker’s tribute to Mary Tamm, interspersed with extracts from the interviews that Mary gave during recordings. It’s not a massive over-the-top piece, and Tom’s reflections on surviving when those around him are dying strike the right note. A very well put together piece.
Verdict: A cracking start to the new season. 9/10