Doctor Who
Human Resources - Part 1

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 261 6
Available 31 July 2007

Lucie Miller has been headhunted to join the staff of Hulbert Logistics, a respectable blue-chip firm apparently located in Telford - which is rather odd, because she wanted to move to London. It offers great prospects and a competitive salary - you don’t have to be mad to work here! But wasn’t Lucie made for better things, such as travelling through time and space in the TARDIS? And why is one little data-entry error such a huge deal? The Doctor, meanwhile, has been fired - into a confrontation with the most terrifying of enemies...

I’ve already commented (in my review of No More Lies) upon the coincidental similarity in story-arc structure between the final three instalments of the 2007 BBC 7 radio series and the last three episodes of the 2007 BBC One television series. In both cases, the third to last episode (No More Lies and Utopia respectively) ends on a cliffhanger that leads into a concluding two-part story (Human Resources and The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords respectively).

The nature of that cliffhanger, the abduction of the Doctor’s companion, Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith), also reminds me of the Doctor Who Magazine Eighth Doctor comic strip Children of the Revolution, which ended with another companion, Izzy, being transported away against her will. Here, as in Uroboros, the comic strip that followed it, the Doctor’s rescue attempt is initially frustrated when his TARDIS is unable to dematerialise.

However, the repetition is quickly over and done with, and this is otherwise a highly original and inventive story. Writer Eddie Robson has crafted an engaging and witty tale in which corporate life is transplanted into a far stranger situation. Archetypes of the office environment in general and the sitcom The Office in particular are readily in evidence, including cheesy co-worker banter and a David Brent-style inept boss (played to perfection by One Foot in the Grave’s Owen Brenman). Meanwhile, Roy Marsden, who recently appeared on the Doctor Who television series in the episode Smith and Jones, is suitably urbane and laid-back as the villain of the piece, Todd Hulbert.

Marsden is less restrained during the interviews that comprise the extra features at the end of the disc, ladling on his praise of this production a little too thickly. Is he after more work from Big Finish?

My only real criticism of this CD is the fact that the identity of the monsters, which enter the fray only at the end of the episode, was given away in pre-publicity even before the programme’s BBC 7 transmission. If by some miracle you don’t already know this detail, then try and avert your eyes from the cast credits on the front and back cover and the CD itself - then you’ll enjoy the well-crafted cliffhanger all the more...

Richard McGinlay

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