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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
Ferril’s Folly


Author: Peter Anghelides
Read by: Mary Tamm
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 509 9
Available 31 May 2011

The search for the fourth segment of the Key to Time brings the Doctor and Romana back to Earth in the present day. In a small village in Norfolk, former astronaut Lady Millicent Ferril has established an observatory, tracking a meteorite from the Cronquist System. It is a meteorite that almost killed her years before - and perhaps left her not entirely human. As Ferril’s power grows, so does her influence. She can control metal - anything metal, from a suit of armour to a bicycle, is now lethal...

This is not the first spin-off adventure to get sandwiched in between Key to Time serials. Previous examples include the novels The Shadow of Weng-Chiang and Tomb of Valdemar. However, writer Peter Anghelides achieves the task the most seamlessly with Ferril’s Folly, which takes place between The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara. Whereas previous spin-offs featuring the fourth Doctor and the first Romana (Mary Tamm) have seen the travellers distracted from their quest, here they really are on the trail of the fourth segment (I won’t give away any more than that).

Whereas Tamm’s previous Companion Chronicle, The Stealers from Saiph, lacked a secondary voice, this one gives a prominent role to the supporting artist, in this instance Madeleine Potter as Lady Ferril. The two readers alternate the narration duties, sometimes seemingly at random, but on at least one occasion the choice of reader proves to be dramatically relevant. Lady Ferril is American, which certainly prevents any confusion over who is speaking, though Potter does sound disconcertingly like Nicola Bryant playing Peri. Both Tamm and Potter have a go at Tom Baker’s distinctive style of delivery, but neither of them really captures it, though Anghelides’s script provides persuasively authentic dialogue for him.

It has been said, in other reviews and during the eight minutes of interviews at the end of the CD, that this story seems particularly reminiscent of late ’70s Doctor Who, featuring events that one can easily imagine taking place in the television show at that time. However, it might have proven too violent for production during the Graham Williams era, given that numerous everyday objects, including sharp-edged metal implements, get used as weapons here.

Romana repeatedly refers to present-day Earth as being a Level 4 civilisation, whereas it is described as Level 5 in City of Death. Perhaps the planet was reclassified.

That aside, the production team turn in a convincing addition to the Key to Time season.


Richard McGinlay

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