Dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot. Someones
listening. Somewhere... Set course for Singapore, 1931.
Journeys end... Despite the Doctors protestations,
Charley insists on leaving him, bringing to an end the Edwardian
adventuresss travels on board the TARDIS. But in Singapore
(in the wrong year, naturally) they discover a ghost ship,
a temporal conundrum, a girl with no memory, and an old and
deadly enemy. This could be Charlotte Elspeth Pollards
finest hour - or her last...
previous Eighth Doctor audio drama, Absolution,
saw the demise of Crizz; this one sees the departure
of Charley Pollard (India Fisher). The ending of Absolution
quite neatly set up the circumstances for Charleys decision
to leave the Doctor (Paul McGann). Which is good, because
otherwise the writing out of two companions in quick succession
might have seemed contrived, like the departure of Turlough
in Planet of Fire straight after Tegans exit
of the Daleks (though Big Finish has helped
to remedy that situation by inserting some additional Turlough
adventures in between!).
Charleys tiff, she soon regains her spirit of adventure,
as events distract her from her dismissive mood, rather like
the Tenth Doctors amusing abortive departure from Martha
Jones at the start of The
Lazarus Experiment. Which is good, because
it would have been a rather dreary story if Charley had spent
the whole four episodes in a strop.
script is by Alan Barnes, the writer who created Charley and
introduced her in Storm
way back in 2001 (recorded in 2000). There are a number of
thematic connections with that debut tale, including the Doctors
botched attempts to get his companion to 1930s Singapore,
a shipping disaster, a young woman (Amanda Root) disguised
as a cabin boy (not very convincingly, it has to be said),
and a mention of storm warnings themselves by Anna Massey
as the mysterious Miss Pollard. Most importantly,
like Storm Warning, this story is fun. The Eighth
Doctor and Charley are obviously made for each other, as evidenced
by the way they unconsciously repeat each others phrases,
even when theyre not in the same room - or even the
same time zone - which makes this parting of the ways all
the more tragic. Barnes keeps you guessing as to Charleys
ultimate fate throughout the story, and particularly during
the final episode.
writer also pays homage to the alleged US naval experiment
known as the Philadelphia Experiment and the time-travel aspects
of the movie of the same name.
plots use of multiple time periods is potentially confusing
and does require close attention on the part of the listener.
In fact, I felt the need to listen to the story again before
I reviewed it - which is no great chore, especially with such
an appealing cast.
Massey is wonderful, as is Danny Webb (The
Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit)
in a dual role as shipwreck-hunter Byron and his own grandfather.
And you might not even recognise David Yip (The Chinese
Detective) and Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey,
Old Harrys Game) in some of their dual
what is it with the Cybermen and Eighth Doctor finales? They
appeared in The Flood, the final Eighth Doctor comic
strip, and in Human
the closing storyline of the first BBC 7 series featuring
Sheridan Smiths Lucie Miller (the companion who has
now replaced Charley). Here, again voiced by Nicholas Briggs,
the Cybermen sound very similar to the way they did in Human
Resources, though they are apparently from a later period
in Cyber-history (they dont query the Doctors
reference to the planet Telos, as they did in Human Resources).
Barnes and director Barnaby Edwards make interesting use of
the cybernetic foes - though I doubt that a piano lid would
do a Cyberman much harm, as it seems to do here.
the interviews at the end of each disc, McGann and Webb discuss
their previous co-starring roles in Alien
and Nicholas Briggs talks Cyber-voices.
never was a departure story quite like The Girl Who Never
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