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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Plague of the Daleks


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 432 0
Available 31 December 2009

Stockbridge used to be such a lovely place - the loveliest village in all England, according to the guide books. But hardly anyone visits Stockbridge now: a few tourists, a couple of Trust guides, the odd beady-eyed crow... But something is coming to Stockbridge, something that turns village cricketers into ravening zombies - a plague such as the Earth has never seen, falling through history from a time when humanity’s greatest enemy was a race known as the Daleks. The Doctor and Nyssa visit Stockbridge for the final time, to confront the terrible secret buried at its heart. The storm clouds are gathering...

The final entry in Big Finish’s Stockbridge trilogy remains true to its two predecessors, Castle of Fear and The Eternal Summer, in that although the author (in this case Mark Morris) has honoured his brief (in this case to set the story in Stockbridge’s future), there is some mingling of time periods.

To begin with, it seems as though the Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) have arrived at some point in the recent past, but other evidence points toward their being in the 21st century... It soon becomes clear that they are in fact in the far future, by which time Stockbridge has been preserved as an intergalactic heritage site, a typical example of an old-fashioned English village. As is acknowledged in the interviews at the end of Disc One, this really is the only way to depict a future Stockbridge, because to make it overly futuristic would detract from its essential charm.

Running the site are a couple of likeable characters, the father and daughter team of Isaac and Lysette Barclay, played by Keith Barron and Liza Tarbuck. Barron has co-starred with Davison’s Doctor before, in Enlightenment, but whereas he was cast against type in that story, here he is very much his plain-speaking, genial, Northern self. The Doctor and Nyssa are split up for much of the adventure, the Doctor teaming up with Isaac while Nyssa accompanies Lysette. This allows the Trakenite to be particularly pro-active in the absence of the Time Lord.

It might have been a good idea not to name the Daleks in the title of this audio drama or to picture them on the front cover, because, as in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip The Dogs of Doom, they are not revealed as the baddies behind the somewhat supernatural transformations of the inhabitants until halfway through the tale. This is quite unusual, as the metal meanies are traditionally revealed at the end of the first episode. In other respects, however, the final two parts (of four) fall into the familiar pattern of beleaguered Daleks rapidly regaining their powers (as seen, for example, in The Power of the Daleks, Dalek and Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks).

This two-disc release concludes with the tenth mini-episode of The Three Companions, in which the connections between Thomas Brewster (John Pickard), Gerry Lenz (Russell Floyd) and the dreaded Coffin-Loaders are finally revealed...

Plague of the Daleks doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors, but it provides fitting closure for the trilogy and a decisive end for the village of Stockbridge.


Richard McGinlay

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