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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 075 6
Release Date: 31 July 2013

The Umbrella Man is back. But when the Doctor recruits UNIT’s Scientific Adviser Elizabeth Klein for an off-the-books mission to the apocalyptic final days of Hitler’s Germany, he isn’t expecting Klein’s hapless young assistant, Will Arrowsmith, to be joining them too. The Doctor isn’t the only alien creature seeking to loot a very particular secret from a Nazi base in Dusseldorf, however. Strange and sinister beings are converging on the same time/space location in search of the German scientist Kurt Schalk, whose experiments are the key to a devastating power – the power of Persuasion...

We’ve already had one serial named after one of Monarch’s accomplices: Enlightenment. Now this one makes a pair! Of course, in common with Enlightenment, Jonathan Barnes’s story doesn’t actually concern a character from Four to Doomsday, though there is a similar sinister use of the word persuasion, as a euphemism for more forceful means of changing people’s minds.

Fans of the Seventh Doctor’s (Sylvester McCoy) exploits will find this adventure at once familiar and strange. Once again, he is taking on Lovecraftian god-like entities – though as we discover, the iambic pentameter-spouting Shepherd (Paul Chahidi) and Shepherdess (Miranda Raison) are several universes more ancient than the likes of Fenric and the Great Intelligence.

As in UNIT: Dominion and the Seventh Doctor’s Lost Stories, we encounter some rather eccentric and/or comical aliens, including the corporate Khlecht Entity Inc and the snivelling Spivalin Empire. The Khlecht are accompanied by an earworm of a jingle that bursts forth whenever they make an announcement.

Not for the first time in this Doctor’s travels, there is a strong element of mystery. I would go so far as to say that the first episode of this adventure tops even Ghost Light, House of Blue Fire and Protect and Survive in terms of “What the heck is going on?”-ness. Elizabeth Klein (Tracey Childs) expresses it perfectly when she tells the Doctor, in no uncertain terms, “You need to explain exactly what’s going on.”

Though there is a degree of closure at the end of the tale, several plot points are left open for exploration in the next two instalments of this trilogy. It looks as though this is going to be a very strongly linked saga, with a definite quest element to it (so, not a story to be listened to on its own).

One of the threads to be developed is the character arc of Klein’s geeky young assistant, Will Arrowsmith (Christian Edwards). He is similar to a much earlier audio companion, Jeremy Fitzoliver, in both personality (enthusiastic but wet behind the ears) and dynamic (he is thrown in between two established characters, the Seventh Doctor and Klein). Will is immediately more endearing than the annoying Jeremy ever was, and I’m sure he will come into his own as the series unfolds.

All in all, this story feels very fresh, vital and intriguing, which makes for a nice change amid all the nostalgia of this anniversary year. That’s the power of Persuasion.


Richard McGinlay

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