Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: CC712: Council of War

Council of War coverOnly one man can save the world from utter disaster… Well, okay, only one man can save Kettering from utter disaster. His name: Benton. John Benton.

In the 1970s, UNIT and the Doctor saved the Home Counties from countless invasions. When trouble strikes a bit further north, it’s Sergeant Benton who’s sent in on his own to sort out the problem… okay, Mike Yates is off sick, Jo’s swanned off up the Amazon, and there’s no-one else available, so reluctantly he sticks on his dinner jacket (not quite big enough), his dress shirt (filled very well, according to Margery Phipps), and takes along his hand gun – make and model of familiar vintage.

John Levene has come in for some stick over the years, but he has always been a staunch supporter of Doctor Who – and was the star of one of the very first filmed spin offs, Wartime, 25 years ago. It’s a shame that he’s coming so late to the Companion Chronicles, just before they enter their final season. He doesn’t try to impersonate Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier or Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, although there are sufficient inflections to be clear who is meant to be talking, and much of the time he does sound the same as he did during his regular run on the show.

He’s joined by Sinead Keenan (Being Human’s Nina), who provides a couple of characters, including the co-narrator Margery Phipps. Writers Simon Barnard and Paul Morris play with the 1970s setting, making her more than just a stereotypical woman’s libber, although the number of times she almost swoons over Benton’s physique does become a little bit of a speedbump.

The script also has fun with some SF and Doctor Who clichés, although it does fall into the trap of giving the Doctor a bit more control over the TARDIS than he ever really showed this early in the show’s history.

Verdict: A nice light story with a few twists – much as you’d expect from the writers of The Scarifyers. 7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Council of War from Big Finish

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