Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: The Lost Stories 4.3: Lords of the Red Planet

Lords of the Red Planet coverThe Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover that Mars isn’t as uninhabited as the Doctor expected…

This penultimate Lost Story is the alternate pitch that Brian Hayles made for the slot which eventually became The Seeds of Death, and while it might have been interesting to have had this story back in the 1960s, I suspect that Frazer Hines is right in the interviews when he points out the technical difficulties it would have presented, particularly with regard to the plethora of scales that would be required.

There’s a certain irony in the genesis of the Ice Warriors and the Ice Lords related here, given the use of an Ice Warrior costume in Genesis of the Daleks, but John Dorney presents us with an intriguing view of the creatures’ earliest days. We’ve had an origin story of sorts for them before – in the Key 2 Time story The Judgement of Isskar – and I’m sure that even as I type, some subconscious part of Lance Parkin’s brain is working on a way of reconciling the two for the fourth edition of Ahistory! The Genesis links aren’t restricted to the reuse of a costume: thematically there are connections too.

As with many of the Lost Stories, Big Finish has elected to retain the original length of the serial; both with The Queen of Time and this, it means that there’s what feels like padding – and there’s ample precedent in the Troughton era (The Dominators) for producers reducing the story length. That might have allowed Dorney to tighten things up a bit – and also given Frazer Hines a bit of breathing space. With the Doctor or Jamie in the vast majority of scenes, Hines is worked hard: he also provides a “natural” voice as a narrator, and there are a few moments in the later episodes where his “Doctor” voice slips. Although these only serve to highlight how good the impersonation is normally, they are a bit of a speedbump.

Director Lisa Bowerman has assembled a strong cast: as well as Hines and Wendy Padbury (as both Zoe and the other narrator), Charlie Hayes and Abigail Thaw make for a strong contrasting pair, and it would be good to hear these two work together again. Michael Troughton as Quendril is a welcome addition to the Big Finish ranks, and the company’s Godfather, Nick Briggs, seems to be playing everything else!

Verdict: A worthy addition to the Lost Story ranks. 7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Lords of the Red Planet from Big Finish

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