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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Behemoth


Starring: Colin Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 811 0
Release Date: 31 October 2017

Bath, 1756 – and a dashing gentleman known as the Doctor is newly arrived in town, accompanied by his lady friends Mrs Clarke and Mrs Ramon. He’s created a stir among the gentlefolk of Georgian high society – and a stir in the heart of merry widow Mrs Theodosia Middlemint, rumour has it. They are not the only strangers from abroad causing tongues to wag, however. The mysterious Lady Clara, from Amsterdam, has the whole of Bath agog. Who is she, really? What is she, really? But there’s something terrible beneath the veneer of Georgian gentility. As awful a horror as the Doctor has ever exposed, hidden inside Balsam’s Brassworks. Something that needs to be brought to light, for the sake of all humanity…

This is a rare historical story, with no science fiction elements apart from the TARDIS and its crew – though for a while it seems as though there might be… Colin Baker never had an adventure of this type during his time on the television show, but he expressed a desire to star in one on audio, and scriptwriter Marc Platt has duly obliged.

The heyday of the Doctor Who historical was during the programme’s infancy, in the early to mid-1960s, and I was reminded of a few of those stories as I listened to this jaunt through Georgian times. Remarkably, the Doctor goes on a ‘date’, much to the surprise of his companions – and me. He finds himself on the receiving end of a widow’s romantic affections, just as he did with Cameca in The Aztecs. The similarity even extends to the Time Lord enjoying a drink of hot chocolate with Mrs Theodosia Middlemint (Georgina Moon). There’s a piratical sailor (Nehemiah Hawnch, one of two very different roles played by the versatile Giles New) who’s reminiscent of the people smuggler Captain Trask in The Highlanders. The sedate pace of the narrative as a whole recalls the gentler times of that television era.

The initial tone of The Behemoth is peculiar, being light-hearted yet intriguing. Comical situations, some larger-than-life characters and a certain touring exhibit (which is based upon a real-life curiosity) bring to mind an earlier Sixth Doctor audio adventure, the decidedly off-the-wall Year of the Pig. Without going into specifics, the enigmatic Lady Clara, who arrives in the company of one Captain van der Meer (Giles New again), proves to be a somewhat different traveller to the impossible girl you might have been expecting!

However, darker themes gradually become apparent, taking in the serious subjects of the hunting and captivity of both people and animals. Though The Highlanders touched upon slavery, it didn’t directly address the exploitation of black people, as this story does, personifying them as the victimised Sarah and Gorembe (Diveen Henry and Ben Arogundade).

How women (black or white) were treated within Georgian society is also examined, through the more modern viewpoints of Constance Clarke and Flip Ramon (Miranda Raison and Lisa Greenwood) – who work well together in this, the beginning of a monthly trilogy featuring these companions.

Ultimately, The Behemoth takes a long, hard look at a deplorable period in British history. Its title seems to be asking us, who is the real monster here?


Richard McGinlay

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