Doctor Who
The Mind’s Eye / Mission of the Viyrans

Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 182 4
Available 30 November 2007

“This is a warning to all space-farers. You must keep away from this planet. It’s hostile, repeat, hostile...” On a planet with no name, the Doctor finds himself confronted by a faulty memory and some killer plants. Meanwhile, in a distant galaxy, Erimem leads a troubled empire. Back on Earth, Peri tells her son about the good old days when she used to travel with a guy called the Doctor...

Erimem (Caroline Morris) in charge of an alien planet? Peri (Nicola Bryant) back on Earth, with a family - but how, when she’s still with the Doctor (Peter Davison) in The Caves of Androzani? These revelations (particularly the last one) might have been more surprising if the title of this three-part adventure had been something other than The Mind’s Eye, which tips the listener off to the fact that this is probably an illusion.

Nevertheless, Colin Brake’s story zips along at a fair lick. It started out as an idea for a four-parter, as the CD extras inform us, but actually three episodes is the perfect length for this tale, allowing one cliffhanger for each of the Doctor’s two companions.

The guest cast, including Owen Teale (Vengeance on Varos, the Torchwood episode Countrycide), Rebecca Front (Knowing Me, Knowing You, Nighty Night) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Human Nature / The Family of Blood) all take on multiple roles spread across the real and imaginary worlds. This is done not only for budgetary reasons but also to lend a Wizard of Oz flavour to the events. Even Nicola Bryant has a go, doubling up as the aliens in this release’s bonus single-part adventure Mission of the Viyrans. To the cast’s credit, I didn’t realise that such doubling up was going on at all until I heard the CD extras and read the cast list. For instance, I recognised Teale’s voice as the scientist Hayton (in which role he chews the scenery somewhat - not that there is any scenery in audio drama, but you catch my drift), though I didn’t realise he was also playing Erimem’s advisor Malarou.

The casting of Teale makes for slightly odd listening owing to his previous appearance alongside Bryant in Vengeance on Varos. Despite that serial having been made more than 20 years ago, Bryant is playing a younger Peri here than she did back then! Still, she does get to “act her age” as a more mature Peri in her illusory domestic life on Earth.

Mind that you keep an eye out for The Mind’s Eye.

“We are not pretending to be you. We are the Viyrans. There is a matter of urgency. Did you remember the Doctor...?” The Doctor and Peri take a holiday on the planet Gralista Social, but soon discover that they aren’t the only time-travelling aliens in town...

Because The Mind’s Eye started life as a four-parter, the additional one-part story on this double CD, Mission of the Viyrans, is not written by Colin Brake. Nevertheless, it develops the preceding serial’s themes of false memory (the Viyrans are trying to erase Peri’s recollection of a certain event) and Erimem’s departure (which is foreshadowed in The Mind’s Eye and has already occurred in Mission).

The absence of Erimem confused me when I listened to this story - at first, I thought I had missed something. However, Big Finish’s website explains that while The Mind’s Eye takes place after Son of the Dragon, Mission of the Viyrans is set after the forthcoming Bride of Peladon. The CD sleeve should have explained this.

Writer / executive producer Nicholas Briggs introduces what promises to be a recurring foe for the Doctor in the form of the Viyrans. “What we’re creating”, explains Briggs, “is an alien species with a unique, evolving motivation that will bring it into contact with the Doctor for very different reasons throughout his life. They’re not necessarily evil, but sometimes the results of their actions can be catastrophic.” Owing to their involvement in this Nicola Bryant showcase, the loosely themed “Virus Strand” arc of single-part adventures begins to take shape.

Richard McGinlay

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