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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Eternal Summer


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 431 3
Available 30 November 2009

It’s been a long, hot summer in Stockbridge, longer than the villagers can remember. Summer’s lease is never-ending - and it’s all thanks to the Lord and Lady of the Manor! One man alone knows that something is wrong: Maxwell Edison, Stockbridge’s unofficial ambassador to the universe (or “flying saucer nut”, as the locals have it). He’ll need help proving it, though - from the local postmistress Miss Nyssa, perhaps, or the village Doctor, who’s been living at the Green Dragon Inn these last 30 years. They’d better hope that autumn never comes to Stockbridge. When autumn comes, the world is doomed...

This, the second part of the Stockbridge trilogy, takes place in the village’s present... well, sort of. Writer Jonathan Morris has taken an imaginative approach to his brief, intertwining the events of recent decades with the present day. The Eternal Summer is thus exactly that: a never-ending present comparable to Groundhog Day (as is acknowledged in the interviews at the end of Disc One and in the context of the story itself).

Whereas the previous release, Castle of Fear, contained references to the knight Sir Justin from Steve Parkhouse’s earliest Fifth Doctor / Stockbridge comic strip, The Tides of Time, this one is heavily influenced by the subsequent strip, Stars Fell on Stockbridge. It makes use of the setting of Wells Wood and, in particular, the eccentric character of UFO-spotter Maxwell Edison (though there is also a tangential reference to Sir Justin and The Tides of Time in a name-check of the local church, St Justinian’s). Any listeners who are unfamiliar with the comic strips are brought up to speed by a helpful flashback re-enacting the Doctor’s first meeting with Max.

Max himself is brought to life by Mark Williams, who puts in a memorable performance. To be honest, though, I never really managed to equate his portrayal with the character that appeared in the comics. I am very familiar with Williams’s work, on The Fast Show and the Harry Potter films for instance, whereas (as is observed in the interviews) the Maxwell Edison of the comic strips resembles none other than Benny Hill (even though, of course, on audio “we ain’t seen him, right?”).

Despite the presence of light-hearted characters such as Max and Lizzie Corrigan (a perfectly cast Pam Ferris), member of PIG (the Paranormal Investigation Group), The Eternal Summer also has its darker moments. Various residents of Stockbridge relive personal tragedies, while Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton seize the opportunity to play sinister versions of the Doctor and Nyssa.

This audio drama would probably have worked better if it hadn’t been the middle part of a trilogy. Because we know that there will be a third and final part, Plague of the Daleks, set in the village’s future, we know that Stockbridge is never really in danger. Lo and behold, things are magically reset at the end of the story.

Nevertheless, there’s eternal enjoyment to be had in these episodes - as well as the bonus mini-episode, the ninth part of The Three Companions, which finally brings one Thomas Brewster (John Pickard) to the fore...


Richard McGinlay

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