One of the clichés that is regularly trotted out about Doctor Who is how versatile the series is. The same show that can give you the drama of The Crusade can also have the manic humour of Let’s Kill Hitler. Or, as has been the case this weekend, can produce The Mind of Evil – which in its restored coloured form looks absolutely stunning, as proved at the BFI – and The Scorchies. Both feature UNIT, Jo Grant and the third Doctor. Both see Jo captured by the malevolent forces working against the safety of the human race… but only one has the most annoyingly catchy songs you’re going to hear in a long time.
The Scorchies is wonderfully, utterly daft. Katy Manning and guest star Melvyn Hayes throw themselves whole-heartedly into the production which basically sees an evil version of The Muppets trying to conquer and destroy the Earth in the same way that they’ve attacked and scorched other worlds. And, boy, do they know a lot of songs about what’s happening.
James Goss is credited at the writer on the sleeve, and he’s come up with one of the most unusual Companion Chronicles produced by Big Finish – this is the same man who wrote the heartbreaking The Last Post a few months ago! But credit must also go to Richard Fox and Lauren Yason who wrote the songs, the element, I suspect, that will be remembered longer – and a tip of the hat to producer David Richardson for allowing them the opportunity to explain the process in the extended extras at the end of the disc, which are some of the most interesting we’ve had for a long time.
If this is the product of Richardson and director Ken Bentley supping ale in Mayfair, someone buy them a couple more pints rapidly… or indeed, five rounds rapid.
Verdict: One of the nuttiest, most inventive Who stories Big Finish has produced. 9/10