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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who


Starring: Colin Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 815 8
Release Date: 31 December 2017

Deep in the heart of nowhere, near a place called Abbey Marston, there’s a caravan site. The perfect place to get away from it all. Andy has brought his girlfriend Joanna here to try and rekindle their troubled relationship. Close by, there’s a stone circle that is said to have been used for human sacrifice in olden times. A little further afield, there’s an old RAF research station, where they did hush-hush things during the Second World War. There’s only one rule: the use of radios, cassette recorders and portable televisions is strictly forbidden. People come here to get away from it all, you see. No-one wants to hear the noise. No-one wants to hear the voices in the static. No-one wants to hear the ghosts…

The ‘present day’ of this spooky story is actually the 1980s, as is subtly established by the fact that no more recent technology than compact cassette players and portable televisions are mentioned, and the Second World War was four decades ago. It makes a nice change to hear a 1980s Doctor in his home era – though the unsettling location of a fog-bound caravan site (with static caravans, geddit?) could hardly be described as a comfort zone. Colin Baker gets plenty of opportunities to shine in this audio drama, in particular when the Sixth Doctor briefly and movingly breaks down towards the end of the tale.

Static doesn’t remain static, however. It also involves a trip back to the 1940s, where Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) is more in her element. Not that she has an easy ride, to put it mildly. I expect there will be long-term consequences to what happens to Mrs Clarke in this story, or at least there ought to be…

The only TARDIS crew member whom writer Jonathan Morris occasionally seems to struggle with is Flip Ramon (Lisa Greenwood), as sometimes her decision-making process is difficult to follow. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention. You do need to pay close heed to the events of this time-looping tale – and then perhaps listen to it again in light of its ultimate revelations.

Chief among the guest cast is legendary voice artist David Graham, who did a lot of work with the father of the director, Jamie Anderson, as well as being a Dalek voice. He plays the forbidding caravan site caretaker Percy Till at two very different stages in his life, sometimes eliciting sympathy and at other times scares. Providing excellent support are newcomers Scott Chambers and Pippa Nixon as the bickering young couple Andy Clover and Joanna Nash. Their believably damaged relationship helps to ground the story and keep it real.

And creeping everybody out is Chris Dale as the Static. Blending an unemotional delivery with a regional accent, he is as unnerving as anything in a Steven Moffat episode of the television series. The credit should be shared with sound designers Joe Kraemer and Josh Arakelian, who apply an electronic effect to the actor’s voice, and elsewhere make us shudder with their sinister music and muted atmospheres of rainfall and mist.

With its mixture of down-to-earth realism and disquieting strangeness, Static reminded me a lot of the supremely supernatural Sapphire & Steel (particularly Assignment 2), and I cannot think of a higher compliment to pay to any science-fiction ghost story.


Richard McGinlay

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