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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Sentinels of the New Dawn


Author: Paul Finch
Read by: Caroline John
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 508 2
Available 30 April 2011

Some time after leaving UNIT, Dr Elizabeth Shaw calls the Doctor to Cambridge University, where scientists are experimenting with time dilation. A device hurls Liz and the Doctor to the year 2014, and a meeting with Richard Beauregard, heir to the Beauregard estate. But there’s something rotten at the core of this family, the seeds of a political movement that believes in a new world order. The Sentinels of the New Dawn are stirring - and their malign influence will be felt for centuries to come...


This tale is a kind of prequel to the Sixth Doctor Lost Stories release Leviathan, though I didn’t realise that until I got to the interview with the author at the end of the CD. I’d forgotten about the involvement of the Sentinels of the New Dawn in Leviathan, which Paul Finch adapted from his late father Brian’s scripts. At least this demonstrates that one can listen to this Companion Chronicle without having heard Leviathan.

The plot itself is short on surprises, though. It’s interesting that the story is set about a year after Liz’s resignation as the Doctor’s assistant (given that the Time Lord has met Jo Grant by now but is still a little unsure about her, it probably takes place between Terror of the Autons and The Mind of Evil). However, once the Doctor is called in to examine an experimental time portal, it’s a dead cert that he and Liz will travel down it, and it’s obvious from early on that the Sentinels of the New Dawn are up to no good, even if you haven’t read the back-cover blurb. Having said that, the cliffhanger ending to the first episode is truly unexpected, though the circumstances of its facilitation seem extremely far-fetched.

The outcome of the story is a little like Liz’s final TV serial, Inferno, or Day of the Daleks, in that she and the Doctor visit a timeline that is averted as far as they are concerned when they return to their proper time. Of course, the Sentinels are not completely extinguished...

Caroline John’s performance is as compelling as ever, though unusually for this series she is not interviewed at the end of the disc (the nine-minute interview focuses entirely on the author and the development of his script). Duncan Wisbey provides versatile support as a couple of different characters.

The Sentinels of the New Dawn passes the time enjoyably enough, but it dawns on me that this isn’t the most memorable chronicle ever to come from this range.


Richard McGinlay

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