Mat Coward’s debut script for Big Finish reunites Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves as Vicki and Steven Taylor, with the story narrated by the former. This gives O’Brien a chance to display her version of William Hartnell’s Doctor, and – particularly given that Coward uses reported speech more frequently than some of the other writers – this comes off very well, with assorted extraneous noises that make the performance come alive.
I’d advise not reading the back of the CD before starting this, as the reveal as to where the TARDIS has landed is one of the key moments in the opening episode, which then allows the story to progress to one of the more bizarre cliffhangers that the series has produced in any format. You certainly will watch an early Christopher Eccleston story with a different perspective after listening to this!
Director Lisa Bowerman encourages a varied performance from both O’Brien (who has to provide multiple voices) and Purves, while the audio background is never allowed to become too obtrusive.
Those intrigued by the idea of Doctor Who: The Early Adventures are advised to listen to the CD extras on this release: there’s quite a bit of detail about the stories in which O’Brien features, which serves to whet the appetite for their arrival next year.
Verdict: A neat mystery and a welcome return for O’Brien. 8/10