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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Silurian Candidate


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 807 3
Release Date: 30 September 2017

The year is 2085, and planet Earth remains on the edge of a nuclear precipice. At any moment, either of two vast rival power blocs, to the West and the East, might unleash a torrent of missiles, bringing about the terrible certainty of Mutual Assured Destruction. But there is another way – or so Professor Ruth Drexler believes. Hence her secret mission deep in Eastern Bloc territory, to uncover a hidden city, never before glimpsed by human eyes: the Parliament of the Silurians, the lizard people who ruled the Earth before humankind. There, she’ll encounter a time-travelling Doctor, who knows the Silurians well. A Doctor on a secret mission of his own…

The Silurian Candidate is as much a sequel to 1984’s Warriors of the Deep as it is to the original 1970 Silurian serial. The events take place one year after the Fifth Doctor’s clash with the intelligent reptiles on Sea Base 4, with the Eastern and Western power blocs still poised to wipe each other out in nuclear armageddon.

Fear not, though, for the production shortcomings that made Warriors so dire are not in evidence here. Of course, this being audio, we would not be able to see the infamous pantomime horse Myrka even if it were present, but in its place is a roaring, hungry dinosaur ‘guard dog’. The Silurians speak with the guttural tones they used in 1970 rather than the Pinky and Perky voices of 1984. And in place of the flat, often bored-sounding deliveries that typified Warriors of the Deep, we have some decidedly larger-than-life performances of the varied characters created by writer Matthew J Elliott – in particular the testosterone-fuelled personalities played by Ignatius Anthony and Nicholas Asbury.

Of particular note is Asbury’s character, Chairman Bart Falco, leader of the Eastern Bloc, who speaks with an attention-grabbing OTT Australian accent and is every bit as uncouth as the cultural stereotype would have us believe. However, despite his nationality, Falco has more in common with American President Donald J Trump, having recently swept to power following a surprise election win. He is just as short-tempered with the press as Trump, and even boasts the same bizarre hairdo, which gets a mention or two.

The title is a play on The Manchurian Candidate, and elements of that political thriller come into play about halfway through the story (which makes the title something of a spoiler, actually).

The story opens with Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) discussing how the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) has changed while Mel was away, becoming his more mysterious Seasons 25–26 self. This discussion is long overdue, as Mel has been back for a while now, so kudos to Elliott for bringing it up. Ace finds her distrust of the Doctor growing, while Mel has to resort to aggressive methods in the cause of keeping the peace. The writer also sneaks in some throw-forward mentions of what lies ahead in the Time Lord’s future. A reference to the Eighth Doctor is fairly obvious, but see if you can spot the allusion to Antimony from Death Comes to Time.

What can also be tricky to spot is some of the action, because the sounds of this play’s more violent moments (such as cries of pain) are all but lost in sound designer Luke Pietnik’s mix. Is this an error, I wonder, or were these scenes deemed too horrific?

Though somewhat uneven in tone, The Silurian Candidate contains plenty of enjoyable elements, making it a more than suitable candidate for listening to.


Richard McGinlay

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