The tagline for these Tom Baker stories at Big Finish has quite consciously hearkened back to teatime in the 1970s, and Jonathan Morris has done a great job in this story with reminders of what we loved about the show in those days, while still producing a tale with its own distinct flavour. Even before director Nick Briggs commented on it in the CD Extras, the links with the first and final episodes of The Hand of Fear were coming to mind and I half expected an off the cuff reference to it given the amount of acknowledgement of elements of The Face of Evil that occurs.
Maybe because I listened to the download rather than looking at the CD cover before starting, but it took some time before I realized that the villain of the piece was being played by Gareth Thomas, enjoying the opportunity to be on the opposite side of the fence from his usual role for Big Finish reprising Roj Blake. There’s another Blake in the studio as well (as is unsurprisingly joked about during recording) with Da Vinci’s Demons’ Blake Ritson reinforcing his position as one of the strongest of the current repertory theatre of actors Big Finish use for their productions. It’s good to hear Jane Goddard back as well, alongside Jessica “Mags” Martin and John Voce.
Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are on fine form: long gone are the excesses of the AudioGo productions in Baker’s performance and Jameson seems to relish returning to this much earlier version of Leela. They’re helped by Morris’ script which carries on the Gothic feel of the Hinchcliffe seasons by finding another trope to explore; oddly, as I was listening to the first part, the thought crossed my mind that on audio the fact someone’s voice sounds standard human doesn’t necessarily mean that they are…
Verdict: Another solid piece of Doctor Who playing to its leads’ strengths. 8/10