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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Many Deaths of Jo Grant


Authors: Cavan Scott and Mark Wright
Read by: Katy Manning
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 583 9
Available 31 October 2011

I wasn’t going to let this happen. After all we’d been through, the Doctor wasn’t going to die like this, on his knees, in the mud.” When Jo Grant was very young, her grandmother told her that there was a time for everything. A time to laugh and a time to cry. A time to live and a time to die. Since meeting the Doctor, Jo has laughed till she thought she might burst. She has also shed a few tears along the way, but has lived more than she ever thought possible. But now, as a strange spaceship materialises over UNIT HQ and a heavily injured Doctor returns to Earth, it is Jo’s time to die - again and again and again...

After some initial disappointment that this CD does not feature the return of the Master (it looks a bit like him in online thumbnails of the cover, but once you see the illustration full size it is clearly not - in fact it shows supporting artist Nicholas Asbury, who plays Rowe), I quickly found myself getting into this audio book.

Writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright introduce some fascinating aliens, diminutive creatures who occupy specially cultivated host bodies: powerfully built humanoids that they use as fighting vehicles. These creatures arrive on Earth in pursuit of the Doctor, and cause trouble for UNIT.

Before the first episode is out, though, the scene has switched to an alien world. It shifts again during Part Two to a spaceship. Thus Scott and Wright’s plot taps into the three main story types of Jo Grant’s time with the Third Doctor: invasion of Earth, alien planet, and space opera. In each of these scenarios, in another of those unfortunate coincidental parallels between Big Finish and recent television episodes, Jo (Katy Manning) encounters an impossible astronaut.

We all know that Jo can’t really die during these Companion Chronicles, let alone die many times, so the nature of these various locations will quickly become apparent to anyone with a smattering of sci-fi knowledge. However, the narrative is structured in such a way that the listener does not feel totally cheated. The writers explore Jo’s propensity for self-sacrifice, which saved the Doctor’s life in The Time Monster and proved so confusing to Azal in The Dæmons.

The real appeal of this story is the relationship between the Doctor and Jo, which Manning’s performance brings vividly to life. It’s also a joy - as ever - to hear the actress’s more eccentric voices during nearly eight minutes of interviews at the end of the disc. There is also poignancy, as Jo realises that before long the Time Lord is going to leave the Earth for good, and as we realise that this is the first Big Finish audio adventure to feature the Brigadier since the passing of actor Nicholas Courtney (to whom this CD is dedicated).

As Shakespeare wrote (and the Sixth Doctor once quoted), “Cowards die many times before their deaths” - but, as this adventure proves, so can the valiant.


Richard McGinlay

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