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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Key 2 Time: The Destroyer of Delights


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 364 4
Available 28 February 2009

The search for the Key to Time has stalled: the next segment does not appear to exist anywhere in the universe. Forced into a temporary alliance with one of his greatest enemies, the Doctor suggests a course of action that is a validation of chaos itself. Thrown at random across space and time, the Doctor and Amy arrive in ninth-century Sudan, where the greedy Lord Cassim is hoarding gold from the Legate of the Caliph. But why does Cassim look so familiar? What is the mysterious Djinni that lives out in the desert? And why does it need so much treasure…?

As Valentine Dyall is no longer with us, who better to fill his shoes (if not his silly crow headpiece) as Peter Davison’s adversary than David Troughton? From buzzard to crow - he played the nasty Bob Buzzard against Davison’s Stephen Daker in A Very Peculiar Practice. Big Finish isn’t in the habit of recasting characters from the TV series, but since neither of the Guardian actors is still alive and the Guardians’ ability to change form at will has already been established, it makes sense on this occasion.

What is more likely to ruffle a few feathers (crow, dove or otherwise) is the Guardians’ change of attitude. His powers diminishing due to the malfunctioning of the Key to Time, the Black Guardian isn’t his usual bellowing self. Now he has more in common with John de Lancie’s mischievous Q from Star Trek, a cheeky chappie who delights in chaos. The White Guardian, charmingly played by Jason Watkins (Being Human’s Herrick), has similarly been knocked down a peg or three. I never thought I would hear this character uttering the word “crikey”!

Whatever you think of writer Jonathan Clements’s handling of the Guardians, there’s no denying that he has chosen a fascinating historical period in which to set his tale. As the Doctor and Amy (Ciara Janson) encounter one Lord Cassim Ali Baba (a real-life ruler in what is now the Republic of Sudan), a hidden treasure store, a blue alien Djinni (Will Barton, alias Midge in the Sylvester McCoy story Survival), and the word “forty” being used a general term to describe any large number, the listener is invited to speculate upon the true origins of the famous story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Clements also touches upon the issue of slavery, as handmaiden Nisrin (Jess Robinson) observes that Amy constantly makes herself a willing servant of individuals such as the Doctor. And there’s a very clever disguise for the fifth segment of the Key.



Richard McGinlay

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