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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Starlight Robbery


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 076 3
Release Date: 31 August 2013

Sick of the same old slaughter appliances? In need of a killer new killing machine? Then look no further than Garundel Galactic’s secret arms auction. Blasters, tanks, missiles and bombs – no bang too big or micro-laser too small. If you’ve got the credits, Garundel’s got the kill-sticks. Cash buyers get preferential rates.” In search of the key to a sinister alien technology, the Doctor, Klein and Will set their sights on an illicit intergalactic arms fair run by an old acquaintance – the slippery Urodelian crook, Garundel. But what are their chances of pulling off a particularly audacious heist from under the noses of Garundel and his alien clients, the ever-belligerent Sontarans...?

I usually read the back-cover blurb to these releases before listening to them, but for some reason on this occasion I didn’t… so it came as a nice surprise to find that not only the Sontarans (who I couldn’t help noticing from the front cover and the trailer at the end of last month’s Persuasion) but also the unscrupulous amphibian trader Garundel (Stuart Milligan) return in this adventure. If that comes as a surprise to you, too, then I apologise (because I’ve just spoiled it for you), but I think it was just me being slow on the uptake! Garundel occasionally irritated me in the pseudo-historical setting of his previous appearance, Black and White, but he seems far more at home among the other weird aliens in this story.

It’s a heist story, in which it transpires that just about everyone is out to trick someone. Even Elizabeth Klein (Tracey Childs) lies to somebody close to her – for the noblest of reasons – by the end of the play.

However, perhaps the greatest trick is that pulled off by Dan Starkey, who plays every single Sontaran in this production, sometimes three of them in the same scene, managing to make each one of them sound distinctly different, though clearly all from the same genetic stock. The Sontarans are well served by writer Matt Fitton, presented as a formidable and honourable force, not merely figures of fun… though the name of one of them, Vlaar, does sound unfortunately like flower (peace, man).

New companion Will Arrowsmith (Christian Edwards) grows a little here, overcoming some of his geekiness by taking a mutual interest in a girl, albeit a blue alien one with antennae – Garundel’s glamorous assistant Ziv (Jo Woodcock). Meanwhile, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) continues to place Klein in situations that seem to be tempting fate by being reminiscent of her alternative timeline existence as a Nazi officer. Here she has to wear a leather uniform in order to masquerade as an alien warrior.

By and large the recurring cast manage to conceal the fact that this trilogy was recorded out of sequence, with Starlight Robbery going into production first (as revealed in the CD extras), though from time to time Edwards pronounces Schalk to rhyme with chalk, rather than hulk as established in Persuasion.

The plot wavers a little during Part Three, as is often the case with four-parters, but the fourth episode builds to a satisfying close, revealing a darker side to Garundel and segueing neatly into the next story. I say “close” rather than “conclusion” or “resolution”, because the search for the persuasion machine continues in the third and final part of this trilogy, Daleks Among Us, which features… oh, you guessed it!


Richard McGinlay

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