A mix of the Doctor Who Proms and the Jon Pertwee story Carnival of Monsters, with elements of Blink, Doomsday and Victory of the Daleks thrown in, Doctor Who Live! (the exclamation mark is a vital part of the title) is exactly what many parents in the audience secretly wished they’d had around when they were their children’s age.
Nigel Planer’s Vorgenson is a mix of ringmaster and Good Old Days compere, warming up the audience so that by the end he simply needs to appear to get a reaction. Nick Briggs voices many of the monsters and makes an appearance as Churchill, complete with anti-Nazi dialogue. Both have interaction with a pre-recorded Matt Smith, which appears pretty spontaneous.
Apart from a quite scary sequence featuring the Weeping Angels, most of the monsters are confined to a similar role to the Proms – walking among the audience while their musical scores are played then heading backstage so the performers can go through yet another quick change. Unsurprisingly the Daleks and Cybermen get a bit more to do and the much-vaunted Flying Dalek is pretty effective.
Star of the show, though – and receiving the loudest applause quite deservedly at the Saturday matinee – is conductor Ben Foster, who leads the onstage band and choir through rearrangements of Murray Gold’s music, sometimes as accompaniments to on-screen résumés of past adventures, other times as incidental music to what’s actually happening on stage. A CD of these new versions should be made available immediately! Paul Simpson
VERDICT: More the Doctor Who Variety Show than The Ultimate Adventure II, Doctor Who Live! is great fun for fans of all ages. 8/10