Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: Gallifrey VII: Intervention Earth

GALL07_interventionearth_1417Ace, the third Romana and Narvin all become embroiled in a plan to bring back one of the Time Lords’ greatest figures…

There’s a handy little catch-all provided at the very top of this story for all those (of us) who pick up on contradictory continuity references, and have problems with the story as a result. Basically, what it says is that history is constantly being rewritten by the Time Lords’ actions, including the personal timelines of characters that we focus on such as Ace, so if this story wants her to be on Gallifrey as an agent of the Time Lords, then that’s what she is. That means that we can have surprise appearances of characters at any point in their timelines, Narvin can express lack of knowledge of savages on Gallifrey (so the Outsiders aren’t around now, presumably, even if they definitely were in Leela’s day), and earlier adventures can be ignored. It’s not a bad precept to work off, and allows Scott Handcock and David Llewellyn to tell their own story even if those who try to make the Doctor Who universe into one consistent whole may be feeling rather out of sorts!

The cover gives away who’s on their way back, and this is definitely the Omega of The Three Doctors (in fact, were it not for mention of a key character from Arc of Infinity, I’d have wondered if that story and its Big Finish sequel from many years ago had somehow been rewritten), with Stephen Thorne returning to the role after over forty years. It’s a shame perhaps that we don’t hear as much from him as we might – the decades don’t seem to have affected his voice at all! It’s a Gallifrey episode, rather than a Doctor Who story, so we get quite a bit of political machination as well as the “save the universe” plotline, and the structure, with a key character providing a brief narration before the theme music crashes in, allows for some insight into Narvin and Romana.

Neil Gardner provides an all-encompassing soundscape for the story – and understands the value of silence. Ioan Morris & Rhys Downing’s music works well for the most part – episode four’s score feels a little out of place towards the end, though – and as director, Scott Handcock keeps everything moving at a good pace. As the only regular member of the Gallifrey ensemble present, Sean Carlsen holds much of it together, with Juliet Landau and Gyles Brandreth adding different facets to the Time Lords they play. It’s always a pleasure to hear Sophie Aldred’s Ace and hopefully she’ll be a full part of the sequel to this tale, whenever it arrives.

Verdict: Very different from the Gallifrey series that preceded it, Intervention Earth feels like a pilot for a new ensemble range with considerable potential. 7/10

Paul Simpson

 Click here to order Gallifrey: Intervention Earth from Big Finish

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