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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
The First Sontarans


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 588 4
Available 31 July 2012

1872: after finding a strange signalling device on the moon, the Doctor and Peri travel to the depths of the English countryside to track down the source of its transmissions. However, they are not the first aliens to arrive on the scene. Old enemies of the Doctor are drawing their battle lines in the forest, and the local humans will be lucky to escape the conflagration unscathed. For hidden within this village is a deadly secret, a secret that could destroy the entire Sontaran race - and reveal the terrible mystery of their creation...

The most recent clutch of Sixth Doctor Lost Stories has featured comebacks by the Melkur and Victoria Waterfield, and this month we get the return of the Sontarans. Yup, these stories are definitely from the mid-’80s! This one was originally sidelined back in 1984 by a rival Sontaran serial, The Two Doctors, - which is a pity, because it makes much better use of the creatures than The Two Doctors does.

I did have my doubts, though, as I listened to the opening episode, which features little in the way of Sontaran action. The first warrior doesn’t appear until the end of the instalment, which comes as no surprise given the title of the story. Part One is also hampered by a lot of quite similar-sounding male voices, which made the plot confusing and hard for me to get into. This is also a pity, as Big Finish has elected to give away this episode as a podcast - it hardly shows the company’s work in the best light.

However, the situation improves dramatically over the remaining three episodes. Part Two gives us explanations, more Sontarans, and other alien species too. The excitement builds during Part Three: several potentially cliffhanging moments are passed by, because writer Andrew Smith has even bigger things up his sleeve. The final episode is exhilarating for reasons that I won’t go into because I have decided to make this a spoiler-free review - but suffice to say that there is lots of stirring sound design by Jamie Robertson, including a rousing Sontaran theme and nostalgically authentic effects from the 1970s and 1980s.

The continuity geek in me was a little worried about how this audio drama would fit in with the Seventh Doctor DWM comic strip Pureblood, but I have chosen to assume that the Pureblood Sontarans in that strip were part of an early batch of specially bred warriors. Andrew Smith has dropped the planned involvement of the Mary Celeste from his story, aside from a brief mention of the mystery in the opening scene, which avoids any risk of contradicting The Chase.

The First Sontarans does not at first succeed, but fortunately it tries, tries, tries again.


Richard McGinlay

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