Doctor Who
Memory Lane

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84435 179 4
ISBN-10: 1 84435 179 3
Available 03 November 2006

Tom Braudy is enjoying a sunny summer afternoon of ice-lollies and Lego when the TARDIS lands in his Nan's living room and interrupts her in the middle of the snooker. After they've apologised, the Doctor and his friends discover matters of far greater concern than the fact that their time machine is blocking Mrs Braudy's view of a thrilling century break. The street that Tom happily cycles up and down appears to have no beginning or end, and every single house is identical. Is this the future of suburbia, or something more sinister? Why doesn't Tom look as young as he behaves? And can anybody remember which house the TARDIS is in...?

Talk about a trip down Memory Lane! Consider the following events. The Doctor (Paul McGann) gets teased when the TARDIS appears to materialise on Earth rather than in the alien locale that he had predicted. However, the landing site proves to be rather unusual. Though it resembles Earth, it is in fact a closed system in which the inhabitants are somehow trapped and forced, unknowingly, into repeated patterns of behaviour. And observing the specimens from outside their container are some rather eccentric beings - beings that soon have possession of a certain blue box... Sounds a lot like a description of the Third Doctor classic Carnival of Monsters doesn't it?

But I am being unfair. I am aware that my reviews have a habit of saying "this is like that serial" or "they did this before in such and such novel". The fact is that many, many Doctor Who stories have been told over the years, and I have seen, read or heard a large proportion of them. Therefore a degree of familiarity and repetition is inevitable. Rather more disconcerting and perhaps less excusable is the sound designer David Darlington's reuse of control panel effects from Big Finish's Gallifrey series, which is a tad distracting at times.

Nevertheless, this is a very enjoyable production. Writer Eddie Robson and director Gary Russell tell their tale at a leisurely pace, with plenty of light-hearted moments but just enough intrigue to keep the listener guessing. (Spacemen? A sinister ice-cream van? What's going on?) Highlights include an endearingly amiable performance by Nina Baden-Semper as Mrs Braudy and a snooker-related catchphrase that is sure to appeal to fans of Mitchell and Webb. Robson also makes refreshingly different use of C'rizz's (Conrad Westmaas) schizophrenic mindset.

If you like your Who a little on the strange side, Memory Lane should be right up your street. There's a rather cool trailer for I, Davros at the end, too.

Richard McGinlay

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