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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles


Author: Paul Magrs
Read by: Mark Strickson

Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 428 3
Available 30 November 2009

Vislor Turlough is in trouble again: piloting a stolen ship through a pocket universe on a mission that is strictly forbidden by the Doctor. He would be going it alone, but there is unwelcome company in the form of Huxley, one of the legendary novelisors of Verbatim Six, who is narrating and recording Turlough’s life. As they hurtle towards unknown peril, Turlough recalls his arrival in the TARDIS, and the circumstances that propelled himself, the Doctor and Tegan into the Ringpull universe. He has a story to tell - but only Huxley knows how it might end...

Mark Strickson (alias Vislor Turlough) lives in New Zealand nowadays, which is why he hasn’t been in a Big Finish audio for simply ages (not since 2005’s Singularity, in fact). Now, at last, he is back again for a brief visit.

Appropriately enough, given how selfish Turlough is usually depicted as being, this story is all about him. To be more precise, Paul Magrs’s tale is a combination of Turlough’s perceptions of events (including how unfair it is that people like Tegan always seem to assume that he’s up to no good) and Huxley the novelisor’s (Alex Lowe) interpretations of Turlough’s experiences and actions.

The presence of the novelisor is a crafty story device, providing the customary Companion Chronicle secondary voice for Turlough to converse with, while also sending up the whole concept of adaptations such as novelisations and audio descriptions. After Turlough objects to the way in which Huxley presents him, Strickson and Lowe share the task of narrating past events. However, when he’s not complaining about the literary liberties being taken in Huxley’s interpretation, Turlough is questioning things at the opposite end of the creative spectrum: the artistic merit of merely inserting “he said” and “she said” whenever someone speaks, spoofing the more functional adaptations, such as Who novelisations from the days when Terrance Dicks was frantically writing them all.

Whereas Part One of this two-part story deals with the past tense of how the TARDIS crew came to be in the pocket universe and why Turlough is now trying to break out of it, Part Two adopts a highly unusual future tense approach. Huxley grants Turlough the novelisor gift of flash-forward so that he can experience a possible future. We hear the story’s resolution in this way, even though, from Turlough’s point of view, the events have not yet happened. As listeners, we must assume that these events, or events like them, must occur, otherwise Turlough would not have appeared in Season 21. However, if this story had been broadcast on the radio rather than released on CD, I wouldn’t have been surprised if some listeners had expected there to be a third episode (you’ll see what I mean if you hear it!).

In the interviews at the end of the disc, the production team congratulate Strickson on his impersonation of the Fifth Doctor, though to my ears he sounds more like William Hartnell or Peter Cushing than Peter Davison. And as for his Tegan...! We also learn what Strickson, now a television producer, has been up to in New Zealand.

Ringpullworld is a decidedly strange story, but Magrs, Strickson and Lowe manage to pull it off.


Richard McGinlay

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