Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: C.C. 802: The Alchemists

Alchemists, The coverBefore they arrived in 1963 London, the Doctor and Susan visited Berlin just prior to the Nazi putsch…

Ian Potter’s tale of intrigue in early 1930s Germany doesn’t sugar coat some of the less pleasant aspects of the era, as the post-Great War society tried to find its way, with many involved in it believing that the allies had deliberately tried to punish Germany economically after the war to ensure that they could never become a force to be reckoned with again. There are numerous genuine historical figures in the mix, as well as the double-dealing self-centred characters familiar to readers of Christopher Isherwood’s tales which formed the basis for Cabaret.

The conceit behind the narration – Susan has written a letter for Barbara to be opened after she has left the TARDIS –  works well, and it’s a shame that it didn’t come up earlier since it could easily be reused. It allows Susan to gain some perspective on what happened, and Potter a chance to throw in a little bit of retroactive continuity. Carole Ann Ford makes the two versions of Susan different enough that it’s easy to tell which is speaking, even when the background noise of the Ship is the same.

The sound design and direction are also noteworthy on this release: an interrogation scene gets the impression of a much longer time elapsing across very well by the positioning of the voice of the questioner, and the music pays homage to the score for the opening episode.

Verdict: A delayed release, but well worth the wait. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order The Alchemists from Big Finish

Check out our review of the recent Big Finish Companion Volume 2 here

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