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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 446 7
Available 31 January 2010

No one lives to reach old age in the village. When their Time is come, they are taken and never seen again. That is The Way. Should anyone try to break with the established order of things, then the fury of Herne the Hunter is unleashed... When the TARDIS materialises near a castle in this medieval society, the Doctor and Peri befriend Gurth, a terrified youth who is attempting to flee his fate. But Herne is closing in... Why does the local baron impose the culling? What is the secret of Zeron? Who are the Sentinels of the New Dawn? The answers lie within a cave...

This is where the series really begins to get interesting. Whereas the last two Lost Stories, The Nightmare Fair and Mission to Magnus, had previously seen the light of day as Target novelisations, Leviathan has never before been published in any way, shape or form.

It also differs from the previous two releases in that it wasn’t intended for the 23rd season but for Season 22 (during which, rather ironically, the Doctor was fighting a ratings battle against Herne the Hunter, as depicted in ITV’s Robin of Sherwood). Whereas the Season 23 scripts were ditched due to the intervention of BBC1 Controller Michael Grade, the reasons for the cancellation of Leviathan remain unclear, though the cast and crew interviewed in the CD extras at the end of each disc put forward convincing theories that the ambitious script, originally penned by the late Brian Finch (who had previously written for Colin Baker in The Brothers), would have proven too costly for the television production team to realise.

There’s certainly a lot of action and derring-do here, with the Doctor engaging in sword fights and riding cross-country on horseback. Freed from the constraints of a 1980s television budget, Finch’s son Paul, who has adapted the script for audio, accentuates such aspects.

Perhaps because of his input, Peri (Nicola Bryant) benefits from a meatier role in this story compared with the previous two. The narrative’s 1980s roots are still visible, however, in the Sixth Doctor’s propensity for violence, though the character shows signs of attempting to turn his back on aggressive behaviour. Another change to the script has Peri reading out a description of Herne from the TARDIS databank, which is certainly more subtle than having characters simply describing the creature standing before them, though it may give away one of the story’s big revelations. If I didn’t know better, I would probably never have guessed that this tale was created for another medium a quarter of a century ago.

Certain aspects of the plot are similar to the Tenth Doctor novel Wooden Heart, but nevertheless it’s easy to imagine how much of a breath of fresh air Leviathan would have felt like if it had been broadcast back in 1985.

The story of how the script came to be rediscovered and hastily adapted in time for inclusion in this series is almost as fascinating as the narrative itself. According to his son, one of Brian Finch’s greatest regrets was that his Doctor Who script was never used. It’s a shame that he isn’t around today to hear it being performed at last and to bask in positive responses such as this one.


Richard McGinlay

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