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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Prisoner of the Sun


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 482 5
Available 31 January 2011

Six years after being captured by the galaxy-spanning organisation known as the Consensus, the Doctor lives inside a hi-tech complex at the heart of an unstable sun, condemned to an eternity maintaining its systems. A moment’s carelessness could cause the star to collapse - and the deaths of billions. Watched over by liquid guards, the Mercurials, the Doctor’s only company at the heart of the sun is his assistant “Daphne”, the latest in a line of android helpers. However, rebel forces have their eyes on the sun and its lonely controller - and they are prepared to risk even a galactic cataclysm to secure the Doctor’s release...

Prisoner of the Sun is full of surprises, though most of them occur during the second of its two episodes.

It’s true that Part One sets up some remarkable situations, such as the revelation that the Doctor (Paul McGann) has been a prisoner inside a star for the last several years (the Eighth Doctor does seem particularly prone to finding himself in long-term isolation and/or imprisonment - see also Seeing I and Orbis, among others) and the fact that, though Sheridan Smith lends her voice to this production, she isn’t playing Lucie Miller. However, all of this can be gleaned from the CD’s outer packaging. As I reached the cliffhanger ending to the opening instalment, I found that, though I had enjoyed the experience, I could think of nothing much to say about it.

During Part Two, however, disclosures regarding the true state of affairs come thick and fast, as Eddie Robson’s script constantly alters the listener’s perception of what is going on. Is the sun really a threat to billions of lives, or is it just an elaborate hoax carried out by the Consensus in order to keep the Doctor a willing prisoner? Are the rebels’ claims lies, intended to persuade the Doctor to leave and so allow the star to collapse? It’s a bit like the situation of the willing servants of the button in Season 2 of Lost, a notion that was also recently tackled by Big Finish in the Bernice Summerfield audio drama Dead Man’s Switch.

In common with the button in Lost, the sense of impending danger is accentuated by the sound effects for the alarms, which increase in intensity if the problem (if indeed it is a problem) remains unresolved. The silences that follow the alarms are just as dramatic. Indeed, such is the quality of Howard Carter’s sound design that I felt compelled to listen to the story all over again primarily for that aspect.

The disc also includes 16 minutes of interviews with the production team, including Sheridan Smith, who explains the complexities of playing multiple roles.

Prisoner of the Sun certainly captured my imagination.


Richard McGinlay

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