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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Recorded Time and Other Stories


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 578 5
Available 31 August 2011

The TARDIS travellers find themselves at the court of Henry VIII in 1536, where the tragic figure of Anne Boleyn will soon be discarded by her king in favour of the lovely Perpugilliam Brown. Or so it is written...

Big Finish takes a short break from its current Seventh Doctor trilogy for another of its occasional anthologies of single-part stories, this time featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) with Peri (Nicola Bryant). The occasion in question is the company’s 150th regular monthly Doctor Who release. It seems incredible to have reached that figure - and that’s not counting any of the other ranges, such as The Companion Chronicles and the Eighth Doctor and Lucie adventures!

The anthology takes its title from the opening story, Recorded Time, written by Catherine Harvey. Here it refers to historical records set down by a scrivener (Philip Bretherton), on the orders of an egotistical and insecure Henry VIII (Paul Shearer), which are somehow shaping the nature of reality. It’s an intriguing concept, but one that perhaps needed to be developed over a longer duration than the 37 minutes it is afforded here. As it is, the Doctor and Peri witness the changing world early on in the tale, which could easily have masqueraded as a pure historical for some time longer.

Recorded Time feels like the smallest in scale in this anthology: the court of King Henry sounds very sparsely populated. In common with the final entry, though, it boasts a bravely downbeat conclusion.



The legendary lost planet of Sendos was rumoured to have the most powerful super-weapons in the universe. Now it is broadcasting across space in Peri’s voice. The time travellers find themselves caught up in the hunt for its fabled armoury...

Like Recorded Time, Paradoxicide, penned by Richard Dinnick, is a timey-wimey affair, but even more so and in a rather different way. The alien setting also makes a good contrast to the historical one of the previous adventure.

The anthology title Recorded Time does, in fact, have some relevance to each of the four stories on this double CD. The recording in question here is Peri’s own voice, which draws the TARDIS crew to the surface of Sendos in a dramatic pre-titles teaser. The “time” aspect of the plot is readily apparent, and, as the individual episode title suggests, knowledge of the past has a circular impact upon the present state of affairs.

Threat is provided by aggressive, matriarchal humanoids known as the Volsci, whose ranks include Raquel Cassidy (Lead Balloon, The Rebel Flesh / The Also People) as Inquiza. Though a convincing menace, the Volsci are so similar to the Drahvins from the First Doctor serial Galaxy 4 that I wonder why the production team didn’t simply make them Drahvins.



It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of a mind of her own must be in want of a husband. Which of Miss Peri Brown’s suitors will be the one to win her hand: handsome Mr Darcy, or the mysterious Doctor...?

Matt Fitton’s A Most Excellent Match is like one of those episodes of Star Trek where the holodeck goes wrong during a fictional scenario, though Red Dwarf fans will also be reminded of the episode in which the crew experience Pride and Prejudice World.

There’s all the usual fish-out-of-water humour, especially in the case of the Doctor, though one’s enjoyment may depend upon one’s familiarity with the texts involved. I’m actually more au fait with Wuthering Heights and Tess of the d’Urbervilles than I am with the works of Jane Austen, having never even seen a screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which I suppose makes me quite unusual (I must be in want of a screening).

Philip Bretherton, who also played the scrivener in Recorded Time, puts in an impressive multiple performance here as Mr Darcy, Alec d’Urberville and Heathcliff, and Paul Shearer is remarkable, sounding completely different here as the lovable rogue Cranton than he did as Henry VIII. However, the guest artist who appears in the greatest number of episodes in this anthology is Rosanna Miles, who plays Marjorie in Recorded Time, a Volsci in Paradoxicide and (her biggest role) the charming Tilly in this most excellent tale.



Five survivors of an unknown catastrophe wake up to find themselves caught in an inescapable trap. Can the oddly-dressed man in the question-mark collar work out what’s really going on before time runs out - for good...?

In common with the preceding story, Question Marks, written by Philip Lawrence, reminds me of an episode of Star Trek - though to say which one would be a major spoiler. The writer has crafted a captivating narrative in which all the characters have lost their memories and must discover who they are, where they are, and what is going on. Colin Baker’s character becomes known as Question Marks, owing to the distinctive shirt collar of his outlandish outfit.

Given the presence of Raquel Cassidy as Destiny Gray, there are a few unfortunate similarities here to The Rebel Flesh / The Also People, but Cassidy helps by adopting a completely different accent to the one she had in that serial and in Paradoxicide. In fact, she sounds more like Anna Hope’s occasional ally of the Sixth Doctor, DI Menzies.

As usual, this anthology is a mixed bag, but there’s no question mark over the fact that such recordings, which showcase new writing talent, will always be welcome. It is a truth universally acknowledged.


Richard McGinlay

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