What can it mean when the Doctor and Mel are drawn to an asteroid
by a recorded message from the strange, elderly Applewhite
sisters? The travellers are promised that their dearest wishes
will come true when they enter the frozen forests of this
benighted shard of a world. But the ghosts that haunt this
place are desperate to warn the Doctor about the dangers of
the sisters promises. Only the ghosts know the true
nature of the legendary Wishing Beast that stalks the land...
In this serial, Mel (Bonnie Langford) finds herself at the
mercy of a couple of dotty but deadly old ladies, whose offerings
of tea and cakes are solely for the purpose of lulling her
into a false sense of security before she herself gets eaten.
No, this isnt Paradise Towers but The Wishing
Beast, the latest three-part Sixth Doctor adventure from
Big Finish. The similarities to that far-from-classic Seventh
Doctor tale are unfortunate, and its not just me whos
spotted them - Langford mentions them in an interview at the
end of Disc 2.
Here the old ladies in question, the witch-like Applewhite
sisters, are played to perfection by Jean Marsh (who has previously
appeared in Doctor Who in The
Daleks Master Plan and Battlefield)
and Geraldine Newman (Ever Decreasing Circles). Whereas
their Paradise Towers counterparts had knitted nets,
kitchen knives and a toasting fork among their arsenal, Maria
and Eliza make use of a different household implement, a lethal
Writer Paul Magrs has penned a typically eccentric story,
very much in the mould of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, complete
with sinister witches living in isolation in a forest, ghostly
apparitions and a ravening monster. A word of warning, though:
I recommend that you dont listen to the interviews at
the end of Disc 1 until after youve heard the whole
of this three-parter, as it might spoil one of the plot revelations
The Wishing Beast has its moments, but even at three
episodes the plot seems padded out. The ending is rather a
damp squib, too, though the disappointment can be reduced
if you move straight on to the bonus single-part story, The
A strange beauty parlour has opened its doors in a dowdy
Salford terrace in the 1960s. Monsieur Coiffure is the talk
of the street with his fabulous makeovers. When the Doctor
arrives, however, he realises that theres been some
unnatural titivation going on...
For me, The Vanity Box is a far more enjoyable affair.
With its regional period setting and cast of gossiping female
characters (played variously by Diana Flack, Christine Moore
and Rachel Laurence), it spoofs the early days of the soap
opera Coronation Street. Toby Longworth is also extremely
amusing as the beauty parlours owner, Monsieur Coiffure,
whose faux French accent keeps slipping.
Unlike previous single-part bonus episodes, this one leads
straight on from the preceding three-parter, with the Doctor
(Colin Baker) and Mel making explicit references back to their
recent experiences in that tale.
I only wish The Wishing Beast had been as satisfying
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