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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
House of Cards


Author: Steve Lyons
Performed by: Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 063 3
Available 28 February 2013

The TARDIS has landed in a futuristic space casino, where the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie find fun, games... and monsters everywhere. There are vicious robot dogs, snake-headed gangsters from the Sidewinder Syndicate and a mysterious masked woman called Hope. In this place, time travellers are strictly forbidden - they are to be tracked down and arrested. Yet, as events spiral out of control, time may be Polly’s only ally...

In common with last year’s The Selachian Gambit, this Companion Chronicle reunites Anneke Wills as Polly with Frazer Hines as Jamie. I like it when two companions get together for these productions. Hines plays a secondary role here, not that I really noticed – Jamie still gets plenty to do. As the CD extras reveal, this is actually the first time that Hines and Wills have recorded scenes together since their time on the television show (previous audio “team-ups” for Big Finish were recorded in separate sessions).

The story’s other characters are voiced in terms of whose scene they are in: if they are in a scene with Polly, then Wills performs their lines; if they are with Jamie, then Hines does the honours. The latter’s accent does waver a little when he has to switch from the Scottish Jamie to an American customer at the casino. With the two performers also providing decent imitations of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor and Michael Craze’s Cockney Ben, it almost feels like the whole Season 4 team is back together again.

Also in common with The Selachian Gambit, the story has been written by Steve Lyons, who once again brings to the world of Big Finish a foe from another medium, in this case the snake-like members of the Sidewinder Syndicate. Unlike the Selachians, I was not familiar with the Sidewinder Syndicate, who previously appeared in a couple of Doctor Who Adventures comic strips scripted by Lyons. The lack of familiarity doesn’t matter, however – the narrative explains all about these gangster aliens, whose behaviour is influenced by a time spent in Chicago during the Prohibition era.

The writer loves a bit of time travel (see also his Fires of Vulcan, Colditz and The Architects of History), so it’s a safe bet that House of Cards is no exception. It rewards close attention and a second listen in order to fully appreciate the convoluted (but not brain-achingly complex) course of Polly’s adventure, which really kicks in during the second half.

Would I like to hear more companion team-ups like this? You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.


Richard McGinlay

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