That sort of combination of ingredients pretty much ensures that we’re in Douglas Adams territory, and this first new story from Big Finish for the Fourth Doctor, Romana II and K9 slots seamlessly into the era. There’s a cracking script from Justin Richards, needle sharp performances from the whole cast, and the best fake radio adverts since the demise of the late and much lamented Radio Active (whoever did them, take a bow!) As producer David Richardson notes in the extras, there’s an Avengers-esque feel to the story with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson all joining in the fun (K9’s new mode, as disclosed at the end of the story, needs to be revisited!), and a number of classic British eccentrics.
There’s a decent enough threat facing the time travellers – the title of the story may be a clue as to the identity of the villains – and although you always have the feeling that if they really concentrated, these three could wrap everything up in half the time, there’s enough that can go wrong that victory isn’t assured… and as this is the first one of a season, there’s no guarantees either that Time can’t be rewritten for a period!
It’s more overtly funny than most Who releases and director Nick Briggs ensures that the energy levels are kept high when they need to be, but also allows some slower scenes so that it never feels frenetic. As with The Auntie Matter a few years back, it kicks off the season in familiar territory but is never totally predictable.
Verdict: Huge fun, and a cracking start to the latest season of Fourth Doctor stories. 9/10