You’d think that Marc Platt might be starting to get sick of the whole “Doctor and Susan leaving Gallifrey” period of Doctor Who history – after all, he covered it extensively in his New Adventure Lungbarrow (based on the idea which eventually became Ghost Light), and then again for the first of the Doctor Who Unbound discs, which featured Geoffrey Bayldon as an alternate original Doctor. Here he has the massive juggling act of creating a version that fits in with everything we’ve learned – up to, and including, The Name of the Doctor.
And he succeeds with style. There are references within moments to that recent adventure, as well as The Doctor’s Wife, The Deadly Assassin, Lungbarrow, The War Games, An Unearthly Child, and a host of others – The Name of the Doctor perhaps required an extra paragraph to be inserted later, at the same time as the cover image was amended, but it’s pretty seamless. Many of the “inconsistencies” that fans have loved arguing over are dealt with head on – Susan naming the TARDIS, for instance – in an imaginative way, and Platt even suggests a reason why Earth becomes the Doctor’s favourite planet.
Carole Ann Ford’s lively recreation of Susan is aided by a great performance from Terry Molloy, as Quadrigger Stoyn, a part which could easily have become overly villainous in less capable hands than Molloy and director Lisa Bowerman. Molloy captures Stoyn’s desperation to get home, and his realisation of the consequences of what he’s doing, as well as providing another key role for the story.
If the ten year old Marc Platt had been told in 1963 that fifty years later he would be responsible for fleshing out the story that he had just heard on screen during that first episode, I suspect he would have been full of ideas. This isn’t perhaps the beginning that either he or the show’s creators would have had in mind at the time – far, far too much has occurred in the Who universe that needs to be taken into account – but it’s a wonderful extrapolation. Lance Parkin’s thirty-fifth anniversary tale, The Infinity Doctors, was described as the beginning that 35 years of Who had led to; this is The Beginning to which half a century of tale-telling has led us.
Verdict: Witness the start of a wonderful journey. 10/10