The first season of Early Adventures comes to a close with this new story slotted in-between events of The Daleks’ Masterplan, as the Doctor and his companions flee from the Daleks while carrying the precious Tarranium core (something which is mentioned in passing but doesn’t really play a major role in events). We’re dropped straight into the story – there are no TARDIS scenes at all in this play – as the time travellers seek shelter on a snowy night.
Matt Fitton carefully sets the scene before introducing any hint of alien threat – indeed, for a time I believed that this really was going to be another true historical, albeit one set in the comparatively recent past (something producer David Richardson discusses in the extras). The family with whom Steven and Sara end up staying have problems of their own, and it’s only with hindsight that you realise exactly what’s going on (and a second listen to the opening couple of episodes shows how cleverly the clues have been seeded).
The alien threat when it does arrive may seem familiar and, as Big Finish have been doing increasingly of late, we’re only now getting the first part of a story, the conclusion (or at least continuation) of which we heard some time back. And no spoilers as to which range the “sequel” appeared in – you certainly don’t need knowledge of that earlier story for this to work.
The story’s requirements are different from many in the Big Finish catalogue, and Ken Bentley has gathered a cast of actors, some of whom are new to listeners, but whom I hope we hear more from in the coming months. All four are given some quite challenging material to work with and Fitton has confronted some of the underlying problems of the period head-on – indeed making one of them a key plot point towards the end of the story.
It’s a shame that the Doctor is sidelined quite a bit in this – hopefully for future seasons, the character can play the part that he did in the shows being emulated rather more fully – but Peter Purves and Jean Marsh keep you engrossed in the story.
Verdict: With a nicely ambiguous title, this well-produced and performed play brings the first season of the Early Adventures to a satisfying close. 9/10