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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Rat Trap


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 560 0
Available 30 June 2011

1983: as the UK goes to the polls, two “Urban Explorers”, together with a freelance journalist, break into the long-defunct Cadogan Tunnels, once a secret wartime facility... and later, so rumour has it, the site of an experimental laboratory with a nasty sideline in vivisection. What they find, in its twisting underground corridors, is something the most cynical conspiracy theorist could never have imagined: a highly evolved society of questing, intelligent creatures, living right under humanity’s nose for decades. There’s no way out of the tunnels - as the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are about to discover when they, too, arrive in the complex. It’s a rat trap, and they’ve all been caught...

This audio drama took the place of not one but two scripts that fell through in the production schedule, as is revealed during the 15 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew at the end of Disc Two of this two-CD set. Actually, I was not surprised to learn this, as Tony Lee’s script for Rat Trap does show signs of hasty composition. Not all of his supporting characters are terribly well defined (though by the end of the play you’ll see why there is some vagueness surrounding certain characters’ entrances), and there isn’t really enough story to fill four episodes (the first two parts in particular are rather slow moving).

However, Lee (the author of several Doctor Who comic strips for Panini and IDW) does have some neat ideas. The ethics of animal experimentation are (none too subtly) turned on their head, as rats take over a top-secret laboratory. The gruesome folklore of the Rat King (several rats joined at the tail) is brought into play to good effect (comics fans may remember Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s use of the concept in the 2000 AD strip Halo Jones). Andy Hardwick’s sound design for the telepathic rat voices is suitably unnerving (this time Big Finish’s modulated voices are perfectly audible for a change).

The TARDIS crew is split up and everyone gets something different to do - including Turlough (Mark Strickson), even though he spends much of his time in the besieged TARDIS. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) resumes her quest for a treatment for Richter’s Syndrome, which had been set aside for the last few releases. There is renewed urgency as the cure begins to degrade and lose its efficacy.

Davros actor Terry Molloy plays a rather different scientist this time. The talented artist also lends his voice to the Rat King, something I didn’t realise until I got to the CD extras.

This rat tale is enjoyable enough... though it was a narrow squeak.


Richard McGinlay

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