Chapter Ten - Fractures

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson, John Leeson and Mary Tamm
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 204 8
Available 23 May 2006

Gallifrey is a world at war with itself. The Pandora entity, inhabiting the body of President Romana's first incarnation, seeks to dominate the populace through mind control and manipulation. The real Romana has resorted to destroying key parts of the Capitol, hoping to weaken Pandora's power base. But when one such attack goes horribly wrong, Leela is injured and Romana's base of operations is exposed...

Big Finish's recent Doctor Who spin-off ranges are in a good position to appeal to fans of the new television series. UNIT, the Daleks, Sarah Jane Smith, K-9 and the Cybermen have all featured in single-disc releases and have all recently put in return reappearances on TV.

Though the planet of the Time Lords has long since been destroyed in the continuity of the current BBC show, developments in the third - and supposedly final - Gallifrey series are certain to intrigue those of you who are curious to learn more about the events that preceded the Last Great Time War. Though it is uncertain whether or not producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Gary Russell will attempt (or will even be allowed by the BBC) to tie in their events with those of the TV series, it is nevertheless fascinating to hear talk of Pandora (Mary Tamm) steering the planet on "a course for universal war".

With Gallifrey now on a war footing, the ever-present political wrangling has moved up a notch. Now spin-doctoring is giving way to outright propaganda. This is useful from a storytelling point of view, as a broadcast by President Romana's spokesman Commentator Gerber (Charles Pemberton) acts as a handy "story so far" device to bring listeners up to speed.

Stephen Cole's script is a little over-burdened by technobabble, and Leela's (Louise Jameson) injury (no, in case you're wondering, it's not one of the fractures of the title) is unfortunately similar to something that recently happened to Sarah Jane Smith in one of her own audio adventures, but this remains a strong opening fragment to Gallifrey's new season.

Richard McGinlay

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