Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: C.C. 804: Ghost in the Machine

Ghost in the Machine coverJo Grant tries to discover why the Doctor is lying frozen in front of the TARDIS – and why he has left her a note telling her to use the TARDIS log…

By chance, it wasn’t that long ago that I listened to Mark Gatiss’ reading of Planet of the Daleks, in which the TARDIS log featured heavily. This story, set during the Third Doctor and Jo’s subsequent travels, uses it – and the audio medium – to much better effect than Terry Nation did.

It’s a creepy story that’s ideally suited to Halloween season, although I suspect its claustrophobic nature will work at almost any time. As with many of Jonathan Morris’ scripts, knowing the twists and turns in advance spoils some of the shocks, although you’ll want to go back and check that he’s not cheated in the second episode (which is almost Swiftian in its set-up) – which I’m sure he won’t have done! There are resonances of one of the very earliest Big Finish audios, Whispers of Terror,  in the way Morris plays with sound, as well as some distinctly Nigel Kneale-ian touches.

It’s a Companion Chronicle, so it’s not giving too much away to say that Katy Manning and guest star Damian Lynch both have more characters to play than simply those listed on the back cover. The clever set up of the story means that there are reasons within the narrative for this, rather than just audio convention.

It’s a tale that could get very complicated, particularly since there aren’t narrative sections as such, and kudos to Louise Jameson on her Who debut for ensuring that you have all the information you need aurally – there’s a good use of echoes and background to pinpoint the location instantly.

Verdict: Clever, spooky and engrossing – a terrific winter’s tale. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Ghost in the Machine from Big Finish

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