Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Short Trips - Volume II


Authors: various
Read by: various
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £12.99 (CD), £10.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 548 8
Available 28 February 2011

The Doctor takes Ian and Barbara back to Earth, but the clocks have stopped and London is silent; chaos ensues when a young boy discovers time travel for a science project; another boy’s life is in danger as the Doctor comes face to face with a deadly predator; a single coin sets off a fascinating sequence of events; the Doctor investigates why toy animals are mysteriously coming to life in a young woman’s house; one of the Time Lord’s prized possessions goes missing on an alien planet; ghosts appear in the halls as a war machine is primed for devastation; and Charley learns a lot about the Doctor when she visits the family of a dead hero...

This second audio anthology contains the same mixture of vocal talent as the first one. Evidently, each Doctor’s stories for the entire current series of Short Trips were recorded during the same session with the respective voice artist. I can see the practical benefits of this, but the disadvantage is that the artist selected to represent each Doctor’s era isn’t always entirely applicable to the story in question. For example, Lawrence Conquest’s “Walls of Confinement”, which is read by Katy Manning, features Liz Shaw rather than Jo Grant, while Darren Goldsmith’s “Chain Reaction” is read by Louise Jameson but features Sarah Jane Smith rather than Leela. Perhaps in future, short story recordings could be arranged on an individual basis at the end of recording sessions for monthly releases, to allow for more variation.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy “Walls of Confinement” or “Chain Reaction”. Goldsmith’s story is actually my second favourite in the collection, a light-hearted tale of almost Seventh Doctor-style manipulation on the part of the Fourth Doctor as he attempts to while away some time. Meanwhile, Conquest’s tale is a compelling depiction of the Third Doctor’s sense of captivity during his exile on Earth. It also features a convincing little boy’s voice performed by Manning.

Aspects of “Walls of Confinement” are unfortunately repeated elsewhere in this volume. Both this story and Steve Case’s “The Way Forwards”, a Second Doctor adventure read by David Troughton, deal with a young boy’s unfortunate temporal discovery. The latter is the least satisfying narrative for me, as we never really find out how the Doctor solves the problem he is faced with. Both “Walls of Confinement” and John Bromley’s “The Doctor’s Coat”, a Sixth Doctor tale performed by Colin Baker, see the Time Lord losing a valued possession to a youngster.

Several entries fall into the category of being incidental rather than plot-driven: “The Doctor’s Coat”; Simon Guerrier’s “Letting Go”, an Eighth Doctor story read by India Fisher; and Niall Boyce’s “1963”, a First Doctor tale performed by William Russell. However, all of these narratives have a degree of poignancy to them, and “1963” also boasts an attention-grabbing temporal phenomenon.

As with the previous volume, Nicholas Briggs strives to emulate each story’s era with his incidental music. This is never more apparent than during James Moran’s “Critical Mass”, a Seventh Doctor adventure read by Sophie Aldred. Briggs imitates Keff McCulloch’s characteristic intrusive synth blasts so accurately that some listeners may find it annoying. Not me, though - I found it strangely endearing!

Far and away my favourite story in this anthology is the imaginative “Sock Pig”, by Sharon Cobb and Iain Keiller, a Fifth Doctor story performed by Peter Davison. To begin with, it seems like a fairly standard, if slightly eccentric, depiction of a grieving mother’s existence. Gradually it becomes clear that her perceptions are not mere idiosyncrasies but something more unsettling, and we’re into Sapphire & Steel territory. Before long, however, far from being terrified of Sock Pig, you may find yourself crying out for the little creature to be saved. Throughout the story, Davison’s deft reading balances all of these moods to perfection.

As one might expect, Short Trips - Volume II is a mixed bag, but as such there’s probably something here to appeal to all Who fans.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£9.09 (
£9.59 (
£12.99 (
£9.09 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.