A further move forward through the Hartnell era brings us to the period when the First Doctor was definitely mellowing compared with his original portrayal, with both his companions coming from Earth’s future. That’s one of the aspects that makes Ian Potter’s new adventure stand out – while for the audience, this is a science fiction tale, for the two companions, it’s a historical story. Both Steven and Vicki come from a later time than the crew on Ceres, and just as Barbara or Ian were aware of at least the broad strokes of the French Revolution, the pair know that certain things did or did not happen during mankind’s move away from Earth, a factor which plays into how they react to some of the theories that are considered for what’s happening.
With all participants available (Peter Purves providing his usual excellent rendition of Hartnell’s Doctor), there’s no need for any of the TARDIS crew to be sidelined during the tale, as happened in both the first two audios, and each is given plenty to do to play to their respective strengths.
The Bounty of Ceres contains some clever twists on the usual base under siege idea, and an equally clever explanation given for the different size of the TARDIS interior during the later Hartnell stories. One of the story’s hallmarks is a good use of hard science – gravity is wielded as a weapon or a restraint, and the human population have to move around the base in an unusual way, which is easy to visualise from the dialogue and sound effects.
Verdict: Another cleverly-constructed and well-told tale. 8/10