Hot on the heels of Tim Treloar’s recreation of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor we now get Elliot Chapman’s excellent rendition of Michael Craze’s Ben Jackson in this first set of stories for the Second Doctor’s initial TARDIS crew. I can understand entirely why Anneke Wills has been so effusive in her praise for Chapman’s performance – he really does bring Ben back to life, with the sorts of pauses and accents in his voice that Mike Craze had. Add in Frazer Hines’ usual spot-on version of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, and it’s as if we’ve stepped back nearly fifty years.
Simon Guerrier’s script uses the characters well – allowing “Ben” an episode off (even if you don’t realise it until later) – and shows the differences between the first Doctor, whom some of the characters knew, and his successor. The “oops did I really do that?” element of the second Doctor is key at times, and you definitely get the feel at times that the Time Lord is still fathoming his own personality.
The situation that the travellers encounter on New Houston is one that fits into the era, albeit with some modern technology – and there’s a neat use of terms such as “flat computer” rather than “tablet” to emphasize that this is meant to be a Sixties story. The narration definitely echoes the “lost stories soundtrack” feel – scenes that you normally might not think of doing on audio work well with Wills filling in the gaps, and kudos to director Lisa Bowerman for making these feel seamless. A strong guest cast helps to bring the society to life, with Stephen Critchlow managing to make each of the many Yes Men sound the same but different.
Verdict: An excellent recreation of a short-lived but important era. 9/10