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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Key 2 Time: The Chaos Pool


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 365 1
Available 30 March 2009

The ageless leader of a dying race believes that salvation lies within the Chaos Pool, a place that even the Guardians of Time have been unable to locate. Meanwhile, Commander Hectocot and his Teuthoidian followers move in for the kill - again and again and again... These are two species from opposite ends of time, so how can they co-exist? In their search for the final segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Amy are caught in the crossfire. As the end of everything approaches, old friends and enemies reveal themselves and the final battle between the forces of Chaos and Order ignites...


With the entire universe already in danger, can writer Peter Anghelides, director Lisa Bowerman and the rest of the production team pool their resources to ramp up the tension even higher for the third and final Key 2 Time audio adventure? Well, not quite - but there are some very interesting ideas here.

A working knowledge of previous Key to Time stories is necessary, as the plot refers back to them in a number of ways, especially The Armageddon Factor. Lalla Ward returns, credited as “Madam President”, and I can’t quite believe that the production team managed to pull the wool over my eyes regarding her identity until the cliffhanger ending to Part One, but they did!

Ward’s return is bound up with an explanation for Romana’s seemingly cosmetic regeneration at the start of Destiny of the Daleks. (This is Big Finish’s third attempt to rationalise Romana’s regeneration, after “The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe”, in the anthology Short Trips: Companions, and Gallifrey: Lies. These various explanations may or may not be mutually exclusive. Indeed, in “The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe” Romana’s health is affected by the Key to Time.) The threat to the Time Lady’s life is effective, even though the character has already appeared in subsequent adventures, such as the Gallifrey series, because of the presence of Astra, who might somehow take her place. Even if you don’t really believe that Romana is in danger, the question remains: how will she survive?

Another surprise is the reappearance of Jason Watkins as the White Guardian - not the fact that he returns, which is to be expected, but the fact that he is so well disguised. The actor assumes an unrecognisable voice until his dramatic revelation. Ultimately, events prove that the Black (David Troughton) and White Guardians are as bad as each other, as the White Guardian threatens the Doctor (Peter Davison) with the same declaration that the Black Guardian bellowed in The Armageddon Factor: “Doctor, you shall die for this!”

Laura Doddington also returns as Zara, and there are some rather comical sentient slugs, the Teuthoidians (not to be confused with The Twin Dilemma’s Gastropods or the snail-like Slarvians), played by Toby Longworth and other members of the cast.

However, some aspects of The Chaos Pool are hard to follow, particularly the perplexing Part Two.

The Doctor’s use of the Key to Time to miraculously save the day whilst simultaneously baffling the higher forces makes no more or less sense than his previous incarnation’s dispersal of the device at the end of The Armageddon Factor.

Chaotic, yes, but still enjoyable.


Richard McGinlay

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