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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Time Museum


Starring: William Russell
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 018 3
Available 31 July 2012

This is the Chesterton Exhibition: a series of breathtakingly faithful tableaux, painstakingly detailed to the nth degree, dedicated to the life of that most extraordinary time traveller, Ian Chesterton!” Ian finds himself in a shrine to his own past, and on the run with a man named Pendolin. From Coal Hill School to Jobis Station, from Totter’s Yard to the Crusades, from Barnes Common to the planet Skaro, Ian’s history is unfolding - and a confrontation with a deadly enemy with a voracious appetite awaits...

We’ve had a few of these lately: Companion Chronicles that are not in the usual audio-book style but rather performed drama, albeit with a cast of just two (William Russell, supported by Philip Pope as the curator Pendolin). However, with this release, which features the return of a performer from the television show’s original line-up, Big Finish can rightly claim to have now produced at least one audio drama set in each of the classic Doctors’ eras.

Well, strictly speaking this isn’t actually set during the Hartnell years, but reminisces about them intensively. Waking up in a museum dedicated to his travels with the First Doctor, a much older Ian Chesterton is coerced into recalling memories from almost half a century ago. Many of his television adventures are referenced, as well as a few Big Finish releases. This isn’t a clip show, but sound designers Richard Fox and Lauren Yason cleverly evoke the soundscapes of Seasons 1 and 2, including the musical styles of composers Norman Kay and Tristram Cary. The interviews at the end of the CD give away the fact that The Time Museum was intended as a 50th-anniversary release, and a very fitting one it would have been too.

The real fun is that, after all these years, Ian can’t remember all the details precisely - so, for example, he jumbles up his encounters with ants of various sizes in Planet of Giants, The Web Planet and The Crusade. My favourite bit is when he recalls being held captive in the Cave of Five Hundred Skulls, being forced to invent the wheel for the Aztecs. Even the alternative continuities of the embryonic pilot script Nothing at the End of the Lane and David Whitaker’s novelisation of The Daleks get cheeky mentions.

For me, the first episode is the stronger of the two. There isn’t as much mystery or dramatic impetus in the second half - though writer James Goss makes some sage comments about how the Doctor and Ian have affected each other.

If you’re a casual fan who isn’t terribly familiar with the Time Lord’s earliest adventures, then this probably isn’t the story for you. Otherwise, listening to this audio drama is like wallowing in a warm, luxurious bath of nostalgia.


Richard McGinlay

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