There are many people like me who have been wondering why Big Finish is not continuing with the Companion Chronicles, given the opportunity that they provide for writers to get inside the heads of the various people who have travelled with the Doctor from time to time. Although there have been a few misfires, the vast majority of the range has considerably widened our appreciation of these characters, particularly those who might have got short shrift on television.
Prime among these have been Hartnell companions Steven and Sara Kingdom, whose lives before and after their time with the Doctor have been notably expanded in Simon Guerrier’s stories. Guerrier returns for a final contribution (or at least final for the moment – I was delighted to hear David Richardson note that the range may return down the line) and gives us an insight both into why the astronaut left the Doctor when he did, and what happened on the planet of the Savages in the years that followed. Given his experiences on the planet Comfort (and when you find out the derivation of that name, a lot of things make sense), Steven would necessarily have a broadened horizon, and relate it to his future.
Peter Purves is given more to do in this than in some stories: he may be primarily still remembered as a presenter, but his acting muscles are still there, and he’s on top form. Alice Haig provides a good foil for him, with director Lisa Bowerman not allowing what could have been a generic companion part (ironically) from becoming simply a feed.
The First World War analogies are occasionally a little heavy-handed, but work within the context of the way Steven is narrating the story, and there is a rather surprising “with one bound he was free” moment. However, overall this is a strong way for this era to end in the Chronicles.
Verdict: A few surprises, and a well thought through explanation for what appeared to be unlikely choices on screen. 8/10