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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
Power Play


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 587 7
Available 30 June 2012

It has been many years since Victoria Waterfield travelled through time and space fighting monsters and dictators. Now she is back on Earth fighting for the future of the planet. But are her environmental campaigns so far removed from those former adventures in the vortex? As trucks carrying nuclear waste start to vanish into the air, her friends are kidnapped by a dangerous alien police force and a nuclear power plant runs dangerously close to meltdown, Victoria spies a familiar blue box. The Doctor! After all this time, the Doctor has come back. And now... Victoria Waterfield is going to kill him...

Really, Victoria - I know you’re upset about not being in The Two Doctors, but even so, that’s something of an over-reaction! Actually, Victoria (Deborah Watling) doesn’t want to kill the Doctor (Colin Baker), but some aliens do and they brainwash her, but you get the idea. It’s rather obvious “I am possessed” acting too, it must be said, but this is after all a re-creation of mid-’80s Who, which was seldom known for its subtlety.

For better or worse, this release does accurately capture the era in question, right from the extra-shrill Peri (Nicola Bryant) who is flung around the out-of-control TARDIS during the opening console room scene. Bringing back Victoria is just the sort of thing the production team would have done back then. After the Brigadier in Mawdryn Undead and Jamie in The Two Doctors, this would have completed their set of “companions who were in The Web of Fear”. Becoming a nuclear protestor might seem more like Jo Grant’s sort of thing than Victoria’s, but then the Brigadier’s schoolteacher role in Mawdryn Undead would have been more fitting for Ian Chesterton (as it was originally envisaged), so fair enough.

The nuclear angle seems to have divided opinion. In the 20 minutes of CD extras, director Ken Bentley believes that the story content isn’t very ’80s at all, whereas at least one reviewer considers the subject matter rather dated. I would argue that nuclear power is as topical now as it was more than 25 years ago. As writer Gary Hopkins points out in his sleeve notes, had Meltdown (as it was originally entitled) gone into production during the 1980s, its broadcast would probably have occurred around the time of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. By an eerie coincidence, between the recording and release of this audio version, an incident of similar magnitude, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant crisis, took place, prompting Big Finish to rename the adventure Power Play (actually a more fitting title) out of sensitivity. Is this story cursed or something? The characters in the play are refreshingly level-headed about nuclear energy, perhaps as a result of recent rewrites by Hopkins. The Doctor states that such energy ordinarily has a lower toxicity than natural background radiation, though Peri points out that when it goes wrong it’s very bad news indeed.

Simon Robinson’s music is, if anything, a little too ’80s. There are hints of Dominic Glynn-style snare drums, but much of the percussion is more Keff McCulloch than any musician from the Sixth Doctor’s television tenure. Sometimes it is easy to mistake the incidental music for alarm sirens, which can be both confusing and distracting.

I don’t really have anything to say about the rest of the cast and characters - except for Miles Jupp, who deserves special mention as the softly sardonic and sinister Dominic.

This might not be the most powerful Lost Story ever discovered, but it’s worth a play.


Richard McGinlay

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