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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Industrial Evolution


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 545 7
Available 31 March 2011

19th-century Lancashire: where the white heat of the Industrial Revolution burns hottest at Samuel Belfrage’s brass mill, a mill that is plagued by more than its fair share of work-related injuries. While Thomas Brewster struggles to secure a fair deal for Belfrage’s overworked hands, fellow travellers the Doctor and Evelyn Smythe follow the Copper King to Liverpool, there to discover the unexpected truth about Belfrage’s business. Back in Ackleton, the local MP voices the fears of many when he says that the machines are taking over. He’s more right than he knows...

Writer Eddie Robson defied my expectations by kicking off this adventure, the last of the Sixth Doctor / Thomas Brewster trilogy, with Brewster (John Pickard) already back in his own time period and working at a brass mill. The lad believes that the Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn (Maggie Stables) have left the scene, though that proves not to be the case.

That is pretty much the last real surprise in this four-part audio drama, as the plot then proceeds along familiar lines, with the inhabitants of a pseudo-historical setting falling foul of an alien influence. The industrial action organised by Brewster strikes (no pun intended) a chord with recent employee grievances, primarily in the public sector. The 15 minutes of interviews at the end of Disc Two point out that Big Finish hasn’t done this type of “trouble at t’mill” narrative before, though it is rather similar to the setting of the Colin Baker television serial The Mark of the Rani.

It’s an enjoyable tale, which is bolstered by strong guest performances from Rory Kinnear as the slippery Samuel Belfrage, Paul Chahidi as the ruthless foreman George Townsend, Hugh Ross as the uptight MP Robert Stretton and Joannah Tincey as his campaigning daughter Clara, and enthralling sound design by Fool Circle Productions.

However, this story didn’t quite intrigue me as much as its predecessors, The Crimes of Thomas Brewster and The Feast of Axos. Industrial Evolution is all right, but it’s hardly revolutionary.


Richard McGinlay

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