The final part of this trilogy featuring 1960s trader Oliver Harper is the best of the three, focusing on the two companions and what it means to both of them to travel with the Doctor. Steven still retains his “living on borrowed time” mantra that has characterised him throughout this trilogy – understandable given the number of deaths that he witnessed during the battle against Mavic Chen and the Daleks – while Oliver is starting to realise the enormity of what he and his friends are doing.
The opening scene of each episode provides a shock to the listener, one of which we know can’t be true, the other of which doesn’t fully make sense until midway through the episode – and even then, as the final chapters reveal, it’s not exactly what it seems.
The First Wave pushes the Companion Chronicle envelope a bit: this is more like one of the AudioGo Tom Baker plays, with a narrator filling in the gaps between dramatized scenes. Both Purves – whose Hartnell impression continues to set the standard for his contemporaries – and Tom Allen are at the top of their game in this story, assisted by Lisa Bowerman’s sensitive direction and vocal contributions, as well as Simon Guerrier’s thought-provoking script.
Verdict: Both as a standalone play and as the conclusion to this particular trilogy, The First Wave is a rewarding hour. 8/10
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