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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Destiny of the Doctor
Enemy Aliens


Author: Alan Barnes
Performed by: India Fisher
Publisher: AudioGO / Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.20, US $16.95
ISBN: 978 1 4713 1174 1
Release Date: 01 August 2013

1935: a message from a Time Lord in trouble sends the Eighth Doctor and Charlotte “Charley” Pollard to the streets of London’s West End, in search of a mysterious alien adversary – unaware that something monstrous is already on their trail. They soon discover that an insidious conspiracy is indeed at work, its tentacles extending the length of the British Isles. Proving its existence won’t be easy, however, after a confrontation in a music hall ends up with the Doctor under arrest and Charley on the run, suspected of murder. All their hopes rest in a musical clue and a man named Hilary – neither of which are much consolation, with the two time travellers the object of a nationwide manhunt. And all the while, the enemy aliens are drawing closer and closer still…

How does this series solve a problem like the Eighth Doctor? Unlike his predecessors, he never had an on-screen companion – unless you count his one-off comrades Grace Holloway and Chang Lee, and even so the rights to those characters are caught up in red tape, preventing their inclusion. I suppose the production team could have had Paul McGann voicing an adventure of a solo Eighth Doctor, but instead they have taken the bold step of hiring India Fisher to reprise the role of Charley Pollard, who she played for many years in various Big Finish releases. Don’t worry if you have never experienced this audio-only companion before, because this production tells you all you need to know about her. 

The writer is well chosen: it is Alan Barnes, who authored many of the most memorable adventures of the Eighth Doctor in comic strips and audio plays. It was he who introduced Charley in Storm Warning… and later wrote her out of the Eighth Doctor’s life in The Girl Who Never Was. Fortunately, in Enemy Aliens he harks back to earlier, happier, uncomplicated days prior to the misguided Divergent Universe arc. This was a magical time for me as a fan, because for a brief period between 2001 and 2004, Big Finish was able to release new full-cast adventures with the then current Doctor! Just occasionally, though, the Time Lord’s characterisation here seems more like that of the Sixth Doctor, which whom Charley also travelled for a time – I don’t recall the Eighth Doctor ever making a habit of referring to her as “Miss Pollard”.

I found Barnes’s labyrinthine plot a little hard to follow at first. I might have fared better if I had been more familiar with The Thirty-Nine Steps, to which I gather this story pays homage. There are, however, some great narrative sleights of hand – revelations that made me want to slap my forehead and gasp, “Of course! Why didn’t I realise?”

As with Trouble in Paradise, the Eleventh Doctor’s communication with his past self occurs at the start of the story, though in a welcome twist the message is less than clear owing to local interference. A further variation is that we hear more from the Eleventh Doctor towards the end of the tale, his most prominent role yet in the Destiny of the Doctor saga.

India Fisher does a decent job of capturing the styles of delivery of both Paul McGann and Matt Smith, including the former’s occasional shouts of outrage. She is backed up by the delicious guest voice of Michael Maloney, another Big Finish stalwart, though if I were to tell you the nature of the role he plays, then I’d have to kill you.

Bridging the gap between the classic and new series Doctors, this instalment is a jolly enjoyable adventure yarn. I can’t quite give Eight an 8, which is a pity, but it’s not far off.


Richard McGinlay

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