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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles


Author: Mat Coward
Performed by: Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 085 5
Release Date: 30 September 2013

When the TARDIS lands in a dilapidated attic, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven discover that they are on Earth, in London… in Number 10 Downing Street, the home of many a British Prime Minister. However, as they wander around, it soon becomes clear that the boundaries of space and time have been distorted, and they are trapped within the labyrinthine confines. Alien forces are at play here, affecting the very fabric of the building – and adjusting the very essence of history itself...

For the second month in a row, The Companion Chronicles take us back to the era of the First Doctor. Last month it was The Alchemists with Carole Ann Ford. This month we go Upstairs with Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves (oo-er, missus!).

O’Brien plays the lead role in this adventure, doing all of the narration and providing all of the voices except for Steven’s, whose lines are delivered by supporting artist Purves. This does mean that we miss out on Purves’s excellent William Hartnell impersonation. O’Brien does a fairly good job of imitating the First Doctor, albeit a First Doctor who seems to be suffering from lockjaw. As a woman she is always going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to matching the pitch of a male actor’s voice, as she admits during the 12 minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews at the end of this CD.

There is little more that I can say about this story without giving away some major plot revelations. Writer Mat Coward (a newcomer to Big Finish) has come up with a decidedly off-the-wall concept, which results in one of the most bizarre episode endings ever to grace this range. Following that reveal, the plot treads water to an extent, but for a while you may find yourself genuinely wondering how the Doctor, Vicki and Steven are going to get out of this within the space of an hour.

As with The Alchemists, there is a palpable sense of relief when our heroes regain access to the TARDIS. That familiar hum is very comforting after all the strangeness encountered beyond its confines.

The interviews at the end of the disc also include an intriguing discussion of Big Finish’s forthcoming Early Adventures range, in which O’Brien will be participating. On the strength of this release, I hope Mat Coward will be contributing too.


Richard McGinlay

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