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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
Find and Replace


Author: Paul Magrs
Read by: Katy Manning
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 485 6
Available 30 September 2010

Christmas 2010: Jo Grant finds herself stuck in a department store elevator with an alien creature called Huxley. He is a narrator from Verbatim Six, and he is here to let Jo revisit the best time of her life - when she was the plucky companion to that eccentric space/time traveller known only as... Iris Wildthyme. Confronted with memories she knew nothing about, Jo agrees to a meeting with Iris inside her transdimensional bus, and together the three of them take a trip back in time - back to the 1970s, to UNIT HQ, and a meeting with the only person who knows the whole truth...

In my review of the Iris Wildthyme audio adventure Wildthyme at Large, I said: “here’s an idea for an audio adventure: Jo Grant meets Katy Manning’s Iris!” Now, I’m not suggesting that I was in any way influential in Big Finish’s decision to commission this latest Companion Chronicle from Iris’s creator Paul Magrs (after all, this is five years later), but it is gratifying to hear that it does exactly what I had proposed. Manning plays both Jo and Iris. She also narrates other characters, including some effective mimicry of Jon Pertwee’s style of delivery as the Third Doctor - but with Jo and Iris it really does feel as though there are two actresses in the studio, rather than just one providing both voices.

Find and Replace also features the return of another popular Magrs creation, the novelisor Huxley (Alex Lowe) from last year’s Ringpullworld. The events seem to take place before Ringpullworld from Huxley’s point of view (he says that this is his first encounter with the Doctor), but it’s probably best if you’ve already heard Ringpullworld, as that story establishes his occupation more clearly.

Unusually for this series, the narrative focuses on the present-day companion rather than her past self, and the Doctor does not feature until the second episode, in which Iris, Jo and Huxley journey back to the 1970s. As with Ringpullworld, there’s a distinct separation of time between the two instalments, with Part One set entirely in 2010 and Part Two taking place in the ’70s. The CD’s back cover states that the ’70s episode occurs between Planet of the Daleks and The Green Death, but frequent references to the Doctor’s exile on Earth and his search for the Master make it more likely to happen some time between The Sea Devils and The Three Doctors. Rather confusingly (for me), the 2010 Jo appears not to remember having met Iris before in Magrs’s novel Verdigris, but then her memory is messed about with in this audio adventure. Her scenes with the Doctor in his lab are truly poignant and evocative of the Pertwee era.

The disc also contains eight minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, including Manning, Lowe and Magrs.

A confluence of popular Magrs characters, Find and Replace is worth locating.


Richard McGinlay

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